Many people think that getting a cedar privacy fence will help them reduce road noise. Unfortunately, in some cases a privacy fence just won’t do the job.
In order to be 100% effective, a privacy fence would have to reach heights that most cities simply won’t permit. For example, Wauwatosa limits fence heights to 4.5 feet for back and side yards and 3 feet for front yards.
Menomonee Falls is slightly more permissive at 4.5 feet for front yards, but to go any higher than that in your back yard and side yard you’d need to go through the hassle and expense of getting a building permit.
A 4.5 foot fence just isn’t going to get it done if you’re after noise control. You need something with a little more “oomph.”
You need something that doesn’t carry any height restrictions. There’s only one solution for the task – nature.
You can plant shrubs and tall trees on the side of your property that faces the road. Neither shrubs nor trees offer any height restrictions.
Trees also absorb an amazing amount of sound. The EPA estimates that a solid barrier of trees and shrubs can reduce noise by 3-5 decibels.
In addition, trees and shrubs can soak up a lot of the pollution from the passing traffic, thereby not only reducing road noise but improving air quality as well. They’re also quite beautiful.
Obviously you have a lot of options when it comes to trees and shrubs, but here are a few tips for making your choice.
We recommend that you choose coniferous (evergreen) trees, since they won’t lose their leaves during Wisconsin’s long winters. The foliage provides the bulk of the noise protection, and of course road noise is going to be an issue all year long.
One popular coniferous tree is the Arborvitae. The Arborvitae has extremely dense foliage and can grow up to 30 feet tall. You can also prune the Arborvitae into a more uniform “hedge” shape if you prefer to do so.
Other good evergreen choices native to Wisconsin include Jack Pine trees, Red Pine trees, Black Spruce, and White Spruce. However, Arborvitae is one of the fastest growing evergreen varieties, which can make a difference in how quickly you begin enjoying its benefits.
If you want something that grows really fast that is not in the coniferous family you could try the Lilac. Lilacs are incredibly popular choices here in Wisconsin.
Lilacs come in many sizes and color varieties, though a medium-sized Lilac will typically grow between 12 to 15 feet tall. Lilacs are especially nice in the spring when the flowers are in full bloom. They’ll fill your yard with a fresh, floral scent.
Though Lilacs do lose their leaves they have dense branches which means you’ll continue to block the view of the road even in the dead of Winter. However, branches alone can’t provide the same level of noise protection.
Even though trees and shrubs are the best option for reducing road noise, a privacy fence can still be beneficial if your property is right on a busy road. It can block the view of the traffic so you have total privacy and can prevent your children or pets from accidentally roaming out in the road.
If you live on a busy road and are considering adding a privacy fence in addition to a tree/shrub barrier, please call us at (262) 251-6766. We’d be more than happy to discuss your options and give you a free estimate!