I have a very large backyard surrounded by a tall cinderblock wall. Not only is it HOT in the summer (NM summers) but the noise that bounces around is bad. Someone walking on the sidewalk next to my home can hear our conversations. Help? A coyote fence? bushes? what can help absorb the noise?

The wall separates two levels. The top level next to the wall is not irrigated nor maintained. I leave it to wildlife vegetation and birds. There are several xeriscaped plants but I have no intention to create a garden of any kind.

About 5 feet below the upper level is the main level where we enjoy the outdoors 8 months out of the year. I garden and plant flowers and allow my pets to enjoy the outdoors. Again, the wall is hot and noise bounces around.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I am looking for inexpensive fixes that I can do myself.


Plant climbing vines at the wall, let them climb and cover. Take note of the "sound walls" around the interstates or beltways around the cities. Many have vines growing over them to aid in the sound deadening. Find what the specie is and go from there.

  • 2
    Pick a crawling plant that is friendly to the structure. I recall a historical tour in Savannah, GA in which they said that they choose certain crawling plants/vines that minimize damage to buildings. Sep 1 '15 at 13:50

Here in Southern California when tract homes are constructed along freeways a block wall is constructed the length of the lots. Similar to yours I'm guessing. Rather than having a smooth and flat surface the face of the blocks are irregular and textured. Some project several inches past plumb while others look to have an angled face. It would appear that the wall was constructed to have an artistic quality when in reality the "erratic" surface is meant to deflect and re-bound sound waves from the near by freeway. (think Stealth Fighter).

It may be too much effort to modify the cinder blocks in your wall to mimic the one I described. I think , as you already mentioned, planting dense shrubbery and trees would dull sound transmission in either direction. I would think that (depending on the climate zone, N.M. is zone 13?) some type of drought resistant hedge (box wood hedges) or tree (cypress) would work. Also consider installing a wooden fence on top of or behind the block wall. Any barriers that the sound waves come into contact with, to or from your house, will dull their volume as they reach your ears.

  • 4
    Put in a fountain or water feature, all you will hear is the beautiful natural sound of falling water. Aug 30 '15 at 17:58
  • @JimmyFix-it- This is the answer to the OP's question. Good thinking. Good idea.
    – ojait
    Aug 30 '15 at 18:13

You can buy sound deadening panels or sheeting - You would construct a fence-like structure inside your block wall, then hang the sound absorbing panels or sheeting from that. The material can be part-covered with regular wooden fencing, or plants, or painted, or a combination. You may be able to get away with only performing this treatment on a couple of the walls to prevent the noise from bouncing around. An example of how this can work is below with a sheeting-style product.


Image is of Acoustiblok fence product

  • Expensive but probably the best sound absorption material available.
    – Maelish
    Dec 28 '16 at 15:42

I agree with the textured blocks mentioned by ojait. The idea is to scatter the sound waves. In fact you could also use wooden slats at, say, 45 degrees. These would reflect the sound skywards (or indeed into the ground). If you use the right timber that won't rot, then the slats can also form a frame for climbing plants.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.