View Full Version : I need ideas for getting rid of noise

10-23-2003, 09:23 PM
A customer that I have just bought a new house in the surburban area around Philadelphia, it's a very nice house for $800,000. He has a problem though, his house backs up to a some what busy road with a speed limit of 35 m.p.h. which creates some unwanted noise. He wants me to come up with a solution that would block the noise from the street...INSTANTLY. The area that I'm looking at covering is about 300 feet long. I told him that a row of arborvitaes is always a good solution but it won't be instant. So I thought that putting a fence up along with the arborvitaes might be a good solution. Other then that I can't really think of anything else right now. I would love to hear your ideas. Also, how much would you guys charge to plant a row of arborvitaes 300 feet long. It will take about 100 arbs. and I can get 5'-6' arbs. for $35.

10-23-2003, 09:28 PM
Check with a local tree farm. You can get mature trees that would do the job. The price is high. I had one customer that wanted mature trees installed up 24'. The price for about 18 trees from 10' to 24' installed was $46,000 just for trees. Trees are expensive.

10-23-2003, 09:31 PM
thanks...I'll run that by him, can't hurt to try.

10-23-2003, 10:54 PM
sell him on a pond w/ a waterfall feature.

10-23-2003, 10:58 PM
Fence...then you can landscape the front of it all the way down, or just part of the way, (that - that is going to be central focus. If he want the arbos as well,.. you can add those, too.

10-23-2003, 11:07 PM
I would go with white pines as i think they would muffle the noise better than arbs.

10-24-2003, 12:11 AM
Whatever you do, DO NOT guarantee that it will reduce the noise. Simply planting a row of trees has been shown to be much more effective psychologically, than in actually reducing the decibel level. Believe me, I spent years in this field and there is a ton of literature and studies which have been done and a simple wooden fence and a row of trees can block the view and make the person feel like there has been an improvement, but when a noise level meter is used, before and after, there is very little difference. Have you ever seen the miles after miles of concrete noise walls along the freeways in California and many other states? A twelve foot tall, foot thick concrete wall blocks the noise of the properties right along the freeway, but in many cases especially along hillsides the noise just goes right over it and up to the higher levels. Remember the noise doesn't just disappear with the wall or the fence, it is just bounced around to somewhere else.

Whatever you may plant may make the homeowner feel better, but you'd be making a major mistake to guarantee that what you do will reduce the actual noise. Studies have shown that noise perception varies with the individual so you may think it's great and the homeowner may not be happy at all. Make sure you do whatever he suggests and explain that you're not a noise expert but you're just following his instructions so he can't come back and say it doesn't work and won't pay. You might even try to find someone with a noise level [decibel] meter to do baseline measurements before the wall and after if you think that might help. Good luck, Will M>

10-24-2003, 12:15 AM
good reply Mr.

10-24-2003, 12:24 AM
Originally posted by Frank2
sell him on a pond w/ a waterfall feature.

That's just what I was thinking.

Some very tall ornamental grasses might filter some of the sound on a short term until a larger hedge can be established.

But a large waterfall near the house will do a lot to mask the noise.

10-24-2003, 01:10 AM

Rustic Goat
10-24-2003, 02:51 AM
Mr.Ziffel covers it all pretty well.
It's all going to depend on how much Mr. Homeowner is willing to pay for lack of sound, and a reality check at for just how quiet he really wants.
Wood fence is not even going to slow down noise.
Plantings of any kind will have similar results as wood fence, unless you plant a 20/30' tall, dense growing perennial, about 75' in width, sound is just going to bounce and maybe change tones.
Haven't you ever been in a neighborhood near a busy street/road? Sound comes down on you instead of straight at you, but still plenty loud.
If homeowner is really serious, might want to see if you can find an engineer or architect that is familiar with such matters.
Best plan of action (for homeowner) may be to move.

Team Gopher
10-24-2003, 02:53 AM
Here is a quote from this site (http://www.improvenet.com/adviceandresources/messageboards/questions/landscaping.html).

"Q: We live near a busy street. Is there any way to reduce the noise?

A: The most effective way is a high masonry wall that uses its mass to deflect the sound waves. Thick hedges or solid wooden fences will help only a little. One method that will help a great deal is to install double-pane windows in the house. That will significantly cut outside noise. "

10-24-2003, 08:03 AM
Let me tell you what is going through my mind on this.

Guy, buys an 800G house and doesn't realize their might be a noise problem ? Then goes to his LCO to correct the problem?

Before you guys beat up on me let me say that most LCO's judging from the post on lawnsite are an ingenious and intelligent group, we have to be to survive in this business.

In short, your not going to please this guy, steer him to an engineering firm for a plan, then of course you will gladly implement some one else's plan.

My 2c, Please guy's don't take offense

10-24-2003, 09:32 AM
Maybe the Real Estate Agent showed him the house on a Sunday Morning...I tend to agree with Dan1944...you're better off TO'ing him to an "Expert"...you can be heroic by saying these few simple words \: " I don't know, but I'll find out ". If that's the approach you take, Make sure you do " find out", and nail down the installation ( if it's do-able ). And make sure you get enough of a deposit to at least cover material costs...ran into the exact same situation a few years ago; the client wasn't happy with the end result ( a double staggered row of Arborvitaes- it didn't reduce the noise quite to his liking- he renigged on the final $3200 payment, only to pay me when I showed up one day and started removing the trees!)....Good Luck!

10-24-2003, 09:39 AM
I agree with the above posts. I'm an engineer by day and have a landscaping side bus. It all has to do with the frequency of the sound you want to block. Road noise is a mix, but heavy in the lower frequencies. These wave lengths are measured in feet and yards and are hard to stop. They will go through wood, leaves, and plants and up and over a small fence. I agree with team gopher--masonary wall 10-12' high--anything less and the waves jump right over. Plants and wood may filter out some of the higher freqencies and change the sound a bit--but not lower the db much. Best way it to measure the actual frequencies and design from there. A firm that does this will also have lines on prefab acoustical panels built to attenuate a specific range of frequencies. regards, Scott

10-24-2003, 10:39 AM
Go with the white pines. They are much more tolerant to the salt near the roadway than Arborvite. As far as charging goes,I would charge 3-4x the retail price of agreed tree. We give a one year guarntee with that and proper watering instructions also.

Pete D

10-24-2003, 01:10 PM
I want to get in whatever business your customer is in! In a business where such a dumb azz can make enough to afford such a piece of property.

Build him a dome. Problem solved.

10-24-2003, 02:42 PM
you can get a nice set of ear muffs for $200. Have him wear these as he enjoys his new house. He should have expected this before buying his house off of ebay!
sorry, had to throw some sarcasm in there.

I would agree with the wall, being an engineer myself. In order to attenuate the sound coming from the highway, which is coming in towards the house in all different directions, will be next to impossible with something with a density of shrubbery.

I'd suggest refering him to a firm familiar with this, with this other note. Try to suggest them installing some sort of fence or wall to deal with the noise, and you should landscape directly in front of the wall they install to keep the decorative look of the yard. Explain this to him that it will solve his problem (to a certian extent) and he will not have to stare at a wall all day long.

good luck with this, you always have the option of not doing anything, and saying you are not capable of it, and walking away. This is up to your best judgement.

Good luck!

Fantasy Lawns
10-24-2003, 02:50 PM
I'd go with Frank ... he hit this one right on the nose ... a waterfall feature is ideal fore this problem