The Q&A Archives: Interstate Noise Screen

Question: I would like some suggestions for tall hedge and tree species which can serve as noise barriers. I live on a hill several hundred yards from an interstate. I am looking for something with quick growth and good sound barrier properties. Should grow high enough to insulate a 2 story home. Planting would be in full sun.

Answer: Probably the number one choice for a screening hedge in the Pacific Northwest is laurel (Umbellularia californica). This plant can grow 75' high and 100' wide, with dense growth of glossy-green 2"-5" long leaves. It's commonly planted along roadsides and takes abuse and neglect, yet continues to flourish. There are a number of evergreen viburnums that would also fit your purpose. They're reasonably carefree and most have fragrant flowers. Try Viburnum japonicum, V. tinus, or V. rhytidophyllum. The viburnums won't grow as quickly as laurel, but once established will provide the screening you desire. A third choice is Escallonia. It, too, is quick growing, especially if pruned, and will provide late summer bloom.

Tree suggestions include Acer campestre (Hedge Maple), Populus fremontii (Western Cottonwood), and Populus nigra (Lombardy Poplar).

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