Return to main tree page

planting information


Sound Barrier suggestions


Planting a Sound Barrier 

Vegetation can be used to barrier the effects many problems including noise pollution. As with plantings for wind or visual barriers, the selection and arrangement of the plant material is key to a successful outcome. 

Noise reduction is achieved by either deflection or absorption of the noise or a combination of the two. Most hardscape barriers work by deflecting sound (example 1in pic.). To be effective they should be close to the source of the noise as safety allows. With these barriers vegetation serves to soften the visual effect of the barrier and reduce the reverberation of sound. Earthen berms are often used in combination with trees and shrubs to deflect and absorb sound when the available space is limited (example 2 in pic.). 

Vegetation alone can be used where adequate space is available. To be effective the planting must be multiple rows to about 40‑75' in depth. Care also must be taken to plant the first row at 50' from a roadway or any area‑ that should not be subject to extra snow deposits. 

Conifers or evergreen broadleaf plants will naturally provide the best year around noise reduction. Deciduous trees and shrubs can be added to the planting for variety and added summer noise reduction (example 3in pic.). 


Vegetation should be selected for site conditions with special attention to plant selection guidelines section. It is also important to incorporate fast growing plants and long lived plants for a quick and long lasting barrier. 

Shrubs: Plant in rows closest to the sound. Chose dense or thicket forming shrubs that tolerate salt or deicing chemicals and air pollutants.
Caragana arborescens
Philadelphus spp.
Potentilla fruticosa
Rhus trilobata
Rhus typhina 
Ribes alpinum
Rosa rugosa
Symphoricarpos spp. 

Conifers: Trees that retain lower branches will be most effective.
Abies concolor
Juniperus spp.
Larix decudua
Picea pungens
Pinus Eldarica
Pinus halepensis
Pinus Pinus 
Pinus thunbergii  

Deciduous trees: Taller trees should be selected for the center of the vegetative barrier. Fast growth rate can be considered to provide a more effective barrier more quickly. Smaller trees especially those with attractive flowering and form work well on the inside of the barrier for both visual and sound effect.  
Acer platanoides
Acer saccharinum
Aesculus hippocastanum  
Eleagnus angustifolium  
Fraxinus americana  
Gleditsia triacanthos and its varieties 
Juglans nigra  
Malus species (for inside rows as flowering sensitive to high levels of air pollutants)  
Populus spp.
Prunus spp.
Robinia pseudoacacia
Salix spp.