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How to reduce noise in your backyard

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In our busy world, investing in your peace and quiet is a crucial step toward a healthy, happy home. From traffic noise to loud neighbours, here are our expert tips on how to reduce noise in your backyard!How To Reduce Noise in your Backyard | ModularWalls

Why you should reduce noise in your backyard

A 2003 study by Brown and Bullen found that up to 20% of dwellings in Australian cities were exposed to traffic noise well above the recommended by the World Health Organisation. This percentage has likely increased, due to Australia’s expanding population, advancements in infrastructure and the residential housing boom.

However, noise has been suggested to affect our mental and physical well-being. It’s been linked to increased risk of hearing loss, generalised anxiety disorder, stress, disturbed sleeping patterns and can even reduce life span. Noise reduction, therefore, can positively affect more than just your Sunday morning sleep-ins.


How to reduce noise effectively

The first step is to effective noise reduction is understanding noise source and noise type. This way, you will know if you need to absorb the noise or reflect it.

Our handy guide to acoustic fencing goes into noise source and type for extensively, but generally:

  • To reduce traffic noise, you will need a road noise barrier.
  • For reducing neighbourhood noise (vocal noise from neighbours or animals, lawnmowers, music), acoustic fencing is the perfect choice.
  • To reduce low frequency noise like air-conditioning units or hot water heaters, an acoustic enclosure (typically sound absorbing) will be best.

How do I block road noise? | ModularWalls

What to look for in a road noise barrier

Here are some key factor to effectively reducing road noise in your backyard:

  1. Height:
    Noise barriers should be around 2m high to sufficiently block out traffic noise and prevent noise from rolling over the top. A good rule of thumb is to block the line of sight to help block the noise.
    Note: Be sure to check local council regulations about height specifications! There are usually exemptions for homes affected by traffic noise, so let them know your situation, rather than just going off standard fencing regulations.
  2. Density/rigidity:
    The denser the material, the more likely it’ll reduce noise. A highway-adjacent home will call for a denser barrier than a smaller residential street.
  3. Full coverage:
    A noise barrier should extend all the way to the ground and be air-tight all over; gaps at the base, or in between sections, will allow noise to enter through the gaps.
  4. Proximity to the sound:
    The noise wall should be as close as possible to the road, acting as a physical barrier between house and noise – if you live on the high side of the road, you may need a taller wall. This is because noise moves in straight lines for the first 10m, then changes into vertical waves. However, the fence or wall can still be effective 20-30m away, if the barrier is higher.
  5. Proximity to your backyard:
    Furthermore, the closer you are to the other side of the noise wall, the better it’ll perform!
  6. Reflected noise:
    Also keep in mind that noise can bounce off hard structures, so consider roof lines (pergolas, balcony, etc) that are higher than the noise wall; noise might pinball its way through! Ideally, these roof lines should be lower than the noise barrier.


Case Study: Acoustic fencing boosts privacy for brand new duplex


Which acoustic fences are best for neighbourhood noise reduction?

It can be tricky enough to decide on a fence type, let alone finding one to solve your noise issues. To simplify things, we’ve listed the most common fencing types — in order of the highest noise reduction, to the least!

Reduce Noise With Brick Walls | ModularWalls

1. Brick walls


  • Up to 40dB, or a 50% noise reduction
  • Highly durable


  • Very expensive
  • Long and difficult installation
  • Susceptible to cracking over time

Reduce Noise With Modular Fencing | ModularWalls

2. Modular walls and fences



  • More expensive than timber or metal.

Reduce Noise With Brushwood Fencing | ModularWalls

(image source)

3. Brushwood fences


  • Found to reduce noise if 60mm or thicker
  • Can last up to 30 years


  • ‘Rustic’ aesthetic may not work with modern architectural designs
  • Aesthetics perish and become ragged over time
  • Not suitable for bushfire zones

Do Hedges Really Reduce Noise? | ModularWalls

4. Hedges


  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Psychological benefits
  • Studies show plants can reduce stress/anxiety


  • Maximum noise reduction is about 25%
  • Plants need to mature to reduce any noise
  • High maintenance

The 10 Different Types of Fencing - Timber Fencing | ModularWalls

5. Timber fences


  • Easy to install — DIY friendly
  • Cost effective


  • Not much noise reduction, unless you pay for premium, thick wood
  • Susceptible to rot and termites
  • Heightened maintenance
  • Not suitable for bushfire zones

Acoustic Fencing vs Colorbond Fencing | ModularWalls

(image source)

6. Metal fencing


  • Cost effective
  • Easy to install — DIY friendly


  • Least effective noise barrier — almost no acoustic properties
  • Aesthetics are not long-lasting or versatile
  • Damages easily and unsuitable for high wind or coastal areas



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