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What is a Better Sound Barrier Wood Fence or Trees?

Updated: Mar 4

What is a Better Sound Barrier Wood Fence or Trees?

Whether you are contending with noisy neighbors, rush-hour traffic from a nearby road, or a busy thoroughfare, noise pollution is frustrating. Your best recourse is to invest in a solid sound barrier to keep your property as a sanctuary to relax and focus.

When it comes to sound barriers, two popular options are often contested; wood fencing and natural tree cover. So, what is a better sound barrier wood fence or trees?

Here at Quality Cedar Products, we keenly understand the intricacies of sound barriers thanks to our experience in the industry. While trees may make for a better sound barrier in the long run, fencing is an immediate solution you don’t have to wait decades for.

That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help you make the right choice while investing in your property. We’ll cover everything from how sound barriers work to how to make a cedar fence or plant natural tree cover.

Quality Cedar Products can meet all your cedar board needs. This blog is informational only and not a replacement for expert advice. Please consult a professional before starting any building project as your needs and specifications may vary and it may not reflect the most current building codes, regulations, or industry standards.

How Noise Pollution Affects Your Health and Happiness

Before we can properly answer the debate of wood fences vs natural tree cover, it’s crucial to consider why sound barriers are so vital in the first place.

Physical Health Impacts: Stress, Sleep Disturbance, and Hearing Loss

We’ve all been there before. After a night of tossing and turning, we finally get to sleep… only to wake up in the middle of a dream to exterior noise. Whether the culprit is an overhead plane, passing cars honking their horns, or the neighbors having a party, noise pollution can throw a wrench in your sleep schedule.

The effects of noise pollution aren’t just missed sleep. Persistent noise can cause stress that can lead to adverse effects on your health like increased blood pressure or hearing damage depending on the extent of the noise.

Mental Well-being: The Psychological Effects of Constant Noise

Excessive noise can feel torturous. Human beings are evolutionarily conditioned to respond to noise with adrenaline and alertness, which can lead to frustration or anxiety when unresolved.

This excess noise can also ruin the harmony of a home or office space. Outside noise can turn a place that should feel safe into a constant stressor.

Productivity Impacts for Offices or WFH Individuals

As you can imagine, focusing on tasks becomes infinitely more difficult when contending with noise pollution. Intermittent interruptions and background noise can disrupt focus and introduce extra stress which ruins productivity.

This stress can cause physical illness and mental fatigue, which further dampens productivity, which then adds more stress… and so on until you spend all of your time focusing on excess noise rather than working.

It’s clear noise pollution is a problem that must be avoided. So, what are the possible solutions?

What is a Sound Barrier?

Simply put, sound barriers are physical obstacles that impede the travel of sound waves by absorbing their energy. With the right sound barrier, you can block out most exterior noise to help you reintroduce peace and quiet to your property.

Defining Sound Barriers: Their Purpose and How They Work

Sound barriers are your best bet in the fight against noise pollution. When sound waves travel through the air, they disperse in every direction until they meet an object that is capable of absorbing or reflecting their energy.

The thicker the material in a sound barrier, the better it can absorb and reflect these sound waves. Every time a sound wave hits a sound barrier, the level of energy will decrease, helping lower the noise with each subsequent absorption.

To put it in layman’s terms, a sound barrier placed strategically around your home or office space dampens the effect of sound by the time it reaches your ears.

Types of Sound Barriers: Natural vs Man-made Solutions

Because the only requirement of a sound barrier is the ability to absorb sound waves, you can find both natural and constructed solutions to the problem.

Natural barriers include various types of vegetation like trees, shrubs, and hedges. Conversely, man-made solutions like fences and walls use wood, concrete, and metal to absorb sound.

One of the most critical factors to consider when learning how to build a sound barrier fence is the material you use. For example, is a plastic fence a good sound barrier? The answer is: usually not. Remember, the material of a sound barrier must be rigid enough to prevent sound waves from passing through.

So, what is a better sound barrier wood fence or trees? Let’s compare the two across several categories.

What is a Better Sound Barrier Wood Fence or Trees?

With the dangers of noise pollution looming, it is crucial to find a suitable sound barrier for your property. Here’s how trees match up against wood fences.

Which Dampens Sound Better?

Both wood fences and trees can block a minimum of 50 decibels of sound, making each an effective option against noise pollution. Wood fences are rigid and can reflect sound with ease, while trees contain several surfaces with bark, branches, and leaves that are up to the task.

While wood fences cap out at blocking 50 decibels, tree cover can absorb up to 60 decibels of sound, but only at their peak growth, which could take decades to accomplish.

Which is More Cost-Effective?

Figuring out the cost of sound barrier fencing will always be a vital factor to consider. Both trees and wood fences offer cost savings but over different time frames.

The average cedar fence lifespan can range up to 30 years. This is coupled with a significantly lower installation cost compared to planting and maintaining trees.

In the long term, trees may be a cheaper option than fences, as they may live for up to 100 years in some species. However, this trade-off comes with increased investment in care and maintenance in the short term.

Which Offers Results Faster?

Noise pollution isn’t interested in waiting decades for your sound barriers to grow. Wood fences are ready to block out noise immediately after installation. Conversely, trees and vegetation can take up to 20 years to start blocking noise at their full, 60-decibel potential.

Additionally, vegetation provides essentially zero noise protection until reaching maturity, meaning more sleepless nights while you wait for them to blossom.

Which is More Aesthetic?

Both types of sound barriers offer aesthetic value to your property. Trees provide a natural feel that never goes out of style and allows you to enjoy the surrounding environment.

Wood fences are easily customizable to fit your needs. You can choose anything from wood that is pressure-treated to cedar fences for sound barrier fencing. Painting cedar fencing is possible with most cuts of lumber, allowing you to coordinate with the rest of your property.

You can also consider treating cedar fencing to preserve the knotty, rustic feel, which can work wonders depending on your architectural style.

Which is Better for the Environment?

While both types of sound barriers are preferable to other materials like metal and concrete, trees do have an edge when it comes to eco-friendliness. Trees filter the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and also serve as a habitat for wildlife like squirrels and birds.

However, is cedar fencing sustainable? Wood fences still provide some level of eco-friendliness. Lumber is often biodegradable, and you can also choose to purchase from a supplier that engages in re-planting to ensure you are purchasing ethical wood.

So, What is a Better Sound Barrier Wood Fence or Trees?

We’ve gone through a lot of factors, but what is a better sound barrier wood fence or trees?

The answer will depend on your needs. Both are effective at blocking sound up to 50 decibels. Trees can go beyond that, but only after two decades of maturing. Wood fences allow for faster results and have less upfront maintenance requirements.

Of course, another fantastic choice is to incorporate both! If you plant trees behind a new wood fence, you can cover both the short and long-term, eventually providing your property with a formidable line of defense against noise pollution.

Let’s discuss additional tips to help you maximize your investment.

Tips on Choosing the Best Sound Barrier Fence or Planting the Right Trees

Now that you know all of the ins and outs of the debate between wood fences and trees for blocking noise pollution, there are a few extra ways to make the most of your investment. We’ll cover the best type of fence for sound barriers and which tree species to target.

Investing in Premium Sound Barrier Fencing

Not all cuts of lumber are made equal, especially when it comes to blocking out noise pollution. The central debate comes down to cedar vs redwood fences, with most other types of lumber like pine and cypress failing to adequately block out noise.

Redwood can be expensive and overkill at times, so we recommend looking through cedar fence ideas for inspiration. So, what is the best cedar for a fence?

Western red cedar is the highest-quality cut, found only in a select few groves in North America. This species of lumber is sustainable, durable, and most critically, the best option in the fight against noise pollution.

You’ll want to understand the Western red cedar grading system to find the perfect aesthetic match. Higher graded cuts like clear vertical grain (CVG) or clear heart off a fantastic rustic feel that can also be painted.

Speaking of treating your fence, you should also consider when to stain new cedar fences to preserve their durability. If you stain a fence a couple of months after installation, you will ensure your new investment lasts for decades to come.

Which Trees Make the Best Sound Barrier?

If you opt for trees or additional vegetation to pair with a fence, you’ll want to ensure you are choosing the right species for the job.

You have two primary routes to take: fast-growing trees for quicker effectiveness or slow-growing trees for maximum noise screening.

For quick-growing trees, consider species like Cypress, White pine, or Austrian pine. These trees grow large canopies with branches and foliage to block trees.

If you want the best long-term potential, there are few better choices than Western red cedar trees. These trees have dense structures and thick leaves that reflect sound with ease. Given the strength of the tree, it’s no surprise why lumber from Western red cedar is so effective in fencing.

Wrapping Up Our Guide to What is a Better Sound Barrier Wood Fence or Trees

The choice between sound barrier fencing and natural tree cover is a tight one. Both can block and reflect sound waves, shielding your property from noise pollution.

However, we have to give the edge to fencing with wood fences being a much quicker fix compared to the decades-long play from tree cover. We recommend Western red cedar for the best aesthetic potential and long-term durability.

So, all that is left is to find a Western red cedar lumber supplier to get started on your path to blocking out noise pollution. Thankfully, you’re already in the right place.

From cedar fence boards to posts, we have everything you need here at Quality Cedar Products. We are a family-owned lumber supplier, harvester, and retailer based in Ontario Canada.

We’ve helped contractors and homeowners source premium-quality lumber for years. We hand-grade every individual piece of lumber to come through our doors to ensure our customers only receive the best possible products.

Our customer support team can help you find the right cut of lumber you need. We also love receiving photos from projects our customers have completed, as it brings us joy to help you breathe new life into your property.

So if you’re ready to block out noise pollution, reach out to us to find the perfect sound barrier fencing for your needs!

G&B Wholesale Lumber Incorporated does not assume any liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information provided in this blog post. The reader is solely responsible for any actions taken based on the information presented. Any reliance on the information is at the reader's own risk.

G&B Wholesale Lumber Incorporated is not responsible for any loss, injury, or damage that may occur as a result of following the suggestions, tips, or recommendations provided in this blog post. Building projects involve inherent risks, and it is essential to exercise caution, obtain proper permits, and engage qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The inclusion of external links, references, or recommendations in this blog post does not constitute endorsement or guarantee the quality, reliability, or suitability of the linked sources. The reader should independently verify the information and assess its relevance to their specific circumstances. The author reserves the right to modify, update, or remove the content of this blog post at any time without prior notice. It is recommended to check for the most recent updates or consult with professionals to ensure the information is current and applicable. By reading this blog post, the reader acknowledges and accepts the above disclaimer and agrees to use the information provided responsibly and at their own discretion.

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