Landscaped commercial spaces are welcoming and inspiring and can enhance employee productivity. But did you know that you can also landscape for noise reduction? Growing plants and trees and making efficient use of other landscaping elements provide a visually appealing way to reduce noise.
From HVAC units to street noise to general chatter, noise is everywhere in your commercial space. And it has a big impact on workplace productivity, morale, and even emotional well-being. Here are some tips on how to landscape for noise reduction.
- Trees for Sound Absorption – From twigs to branches, leaves to bark, every part of the tree has the ability to absorb sound. They’re known to absorb and scatter sound waves. In fact, the rougher the bark, the better it absorbs sound. So, pick a tree that boasts many branches, rough bark, and thick, fleshy leaves. Deciduous trees do not provide year-round noise protection as they lose their leaves in winter. They work best during the months when windows are open.
- Tall and Strategic Plant Hedges – Creating a hedge of noise reducing plants will provide decent noise reduction and great aesthetic value to the landscape. Make sure you space the plants so there aren’t large gaps between them.
- Water Features – Water is both essential to life and to create a positive experience in landscape design. Flowing water is known to have a soothing effect and has the ability to relieve stress, promote satisfaction, and enhance health and performance. It also helps in disguising undesirable sounds and is a comforting presence in the landscaping project. The best part is that the water feature in your project need not be large to be effective, but it does need to be close to the listener to have the greatest impact. Place water features in areas where you require noise reduction benefits.
- Evergreen Shrubs as Noise Barriers – Evergreen shrubs will aid in noise reduction all year round. Broadleaf evergreens in particular tend to be more effective than narrow-leaf plants and conifers. Boxwood is extremely common and works really well in noise-blocking hedges. If you’re looking for maintenance-free hedges, then opt for artificial boxwood hedge that looks realistic without any upkeep requirements.
- Partitions – Leverage partitions as a way to bounce noise away from your space. Masonry walls such as brick, stone, or concrete work best for this application. A wood fence works as well, but it won’t be as effective as masonry walls because of the gaps present in between the wood panels, which allow sound waves to creep through. If you have severe noise problems, then the fence can be combined with noise absorbing blankets on the inside of the slats.
- Plants with Natural Sounds – The idea behind this is similar to that of using water features in landscape design. The rustle of leaves in the breeze helps to mask distracting sounds with white noise. Based on the zone you’re in, opt for plants that will create pleasant, ambient noise in the breeze and disguise all the undesirable noise. The rustle of stiff oak leaves, palm tree fronds, quaking aspen, and even bamboo help with this.