Carefully designed concrete barrier walls can help reduce the homeowner's concern over encroaching commercial development and threatening traffic arteries by shutting out objectionable sights and sounds. These walls also serve public and industrial purposes; they can control admission to recreation/education areas, block blowing debris or secure industrial and public utility installations. An esthetically pleasing substitute for chain link fencing, they offer a solid barrier to trespass and block temptation from view. Modern barrier walls in concrete combine durability with a wide variety of attractive finishes and landscaping alternatives, resulting in an esthetic contribution as well as a practical, low maintenance installation. Finishes range from fieldstone and carefully simulated wood grain to standard slumpstone or unique sand casting.

Because of the inherent mass of concrete, barrier walls greatly reduce transmitted sound very little passes through the wall. However, an effective barrier must not only stop transmitted sound; it must also be large enough to lengthen the path of sound waves around and over it. When reflected noise is a problem, the wall should be given an absorptive face. The closer a barrier is to the sound source or receiver, the more effective it is. Thus barrier height, length, texture, and location must all be designed to provide desired noise reduction.

Four barrier wall systems that are available are: large panels with tongue-and-groove joints, supported on concrete footings; smaller interlocking panels with cable-tied joints, set on the ground; stacked interlocking modules, backfilled and planted with vegetation; and manhandled panels, stacked between grooved concrete posts. The first three require crane, hydraulic excavator, or other power assist for erection. The fourth can be built by two persons using methods similar to those employed for conventional fencing. Although the construction methods differ, the function of these systems is similar, and a number of visual options is available with each.