plant for noise screening

seydouxAugust 9, 2013

I am a very fortunate woman who has been able to buy a lovely country property. One of my friends is a landscape architect who has helped me design a wonderful plan. So here is the problem. She is from Mexico city and the problems that we encounter here are alien to her. We know that we want an evergreen screen near the road outside of the Penndot right of way to stop noise and give us more privacy. We both agree that it should not be soldiers lined up in a row. BUT we have deer and black walnuts and some parts are shady and the others are sunny. So any idea for a combination of plants that would tolerate all of these conditions?

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This is the second request within a few days to use plants for noise abatement. The truth is that plants are not good for this purpose UNLESS there is substantial thickness of their collective growth. In other words, you'd need a small forest, not a few rows of shrubs & trees. You don't indicate the depth of space that is available for noise abatement planting, so whether it's possible, or not, is questionable. Is Penndot an Interstate highway? Please clarify.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Sorry. Yes,I have substantial area the entrance to the house is 500 ft. That was why I joked that size was not a problem for once It is a state road and not that busy, but the pavement has been ridged so there is a constant hum sound. Ugh! since the state would laugh about putting a noise wall up, the only course I really have is plantings. My friend included an area for reforestation in the front, and now we are trying to find trees. The problems are I would like evergreens so that the screen is all year round, the noise is worse in the winter, and short of tearing out the few trees that were left there, I wanted to find trees that would accommodate the current conditions. Also I would like a bit more privacy from the road. this is the area after the first 5 feet that would be planted

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 3:56PM
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I'm flipping the picture as it's showing upside down (as apparently happens sometimes for tech reasons.)

With the kind of depth you have, plantings could make a difference. My suggestions are not based on scientific study, but educated guessing and common sense general landscape experience. It would probably require 80' - 200' of planting thickness to abate some sound, depending on the noise level and plantings used. Traffic is actually quite loud, so lean toward 200' or greater. The more dense the plantings, the better the noise abatement. Some plants that come to mind that might work for you are pin oak (in the shrub form ... meaning foliage to the ground,) as it holds its leaves well into the winter, and also, various hollies, some of which can tolerate fair amounts of shade. Depending on the light conditions, a dense grove of Sumac in a sunny spot could help. Consider that you might need to border or intersperse large shrubs (Rhododendron ... Leucothoe?) into the mix for deflection at the lower elevation. In other places where there is sufficient light, common redcedar could be useful. There are probably dozens of plants that could help you achieve your goal and it's probably a matter of not trying to use everything, but just a few things that work well and will grow densely with the available light conditions, and where the perimeter looks handsome.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 7:21PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Please keep in mind that whatever you decide - it will take several years for it to come close to what you would like to have.

You need to consider plants that grow up and plants that grow out. Some of each is the correct thing.

I like spruce, but it will take several years for them to fill in. And, you need to plan so that they don't look like soldiers. Don't plant in rows. You might also consider some decorative grasses. You need to cut them back in the spring, but they like to spread out and many are more than 6' tall.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:16PM
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thanks for the ideas. The plan has 80 ft in it. Curse whoever designed those ridge pavements! Yes I know it will be several years and that is why I need to get started now, not to mention the cost of planting all of those trees. I did not think of pin oak but that is easily added to the mix, I can even transplant from the currently wooded section. Red cedars might be a problem with the deer, So the suggestion of spruces would be better. Rodies can be used where there are no black walnuts but not any where near them. any other understory evergreens suggested with no problems for deer and black walnuts?
And would someone please tell me how to flip the pictures!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 7:12AM
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regarding flipping pictures, are they showing right-side-up on your computer? Or upside-down? If they are upside-down on your computer, then open them up there, find a button to rotate them and SAVE after doing so. (If you can't find any button to rotate, then open picture up in Microsoft Paint and rotate it there.) If they are right-side-up on your computer, but upside down when you post ... someone said in another thread that sometimes Apple products do this. Don't know the cure.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Sorry to be a wet blanket but I have had experience with the sound of ridged pavements. It is an ugly noise that carries for a long distance. Very doubtful that planting a screen along the road will be of much help. Sometimes moving that type of planting close to the house side of the road helps a bit when planting space is available.

I solved a similar situation by: (1) becoming involved in politics and winning a seat on the local town council which then gave me the clout to have the section of road by my property repaved. And, (2) the purchase of two Scotch Highlander female cows pastured right next to the road slowed down traffic by 50% or better. Easy care, wonderful animals, great weed eaters, live well with horses, stop and attract attention daily, thrive in cold weather with minimal barn needs. An electric fence is necessary to keep them contained.

Not the answer you expected. Sometimes it is necessary to think out of the box when plants will not bow to our demands.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 1:59PM
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well thank you all. I guess I will have to try to get it repaved. As you can see there are horses there so cows that get along with them would be great. might be cheaper than all of the trees that I will need lol

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 8:43PM
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