Garden designers are well versed in problem solving, coming up with creative solutions for boggy gardens, dry gardens, too much shade, too much sun, and so on. But what can be done about a noisy garden? In the streets of Surbiton, we have to deal with construction work, sirens, the constant hum of traffic and,
Garden designers are well versed in problem solving, coming up with creative solutions for boggy gardens, dry gardens, too much shade, too much sun, and so on.
But what can be done about a noisy garden?
In the streets of Surbiton, we have to deal with construction work, sirens, the constant hum of traffic and, where I live, boy racers and – at the moment – the daily car crash!
Heaven help you if you live anywhere near the A3.
Most people think the best defence against this noise is a large hedge or a belt of trees and shrubs around the garden, but research has shown any planting barrier has to consist of thick evergreens, clothed right to the ground and at least 8 metres deep to deliver even a 25% reduction in noise.
Much more effective is a wall or solid fence which can potentially cut the noise level by 50%.
The key to this reduction is to stop air flow through your chosen barrier so, for example, a larch lap or slatted fence will not do the job – a fence has to be of double leaf construction.
There is no advantage to making the barrier extra thick but the higher it is the better. There are all sorts of clever calculations which can be done but, essentially, we’re looking at a bare minimum of 2 metres. Any higher means applying for planning permission.
Ideally the barrier should be as close as possible to the noise source e.g. slap bang against the road.
If that’s not possible, and you have a large garden, the next best thing is to create pockets of tranquillity immediately around the area you want to protect. This may sound counterintuitive, but the least efficient spot is halfway between you and the noise.
You may also assume that if you can’t see the source of the noise, you will be less conscious of it. But the reverse is true. If you can see the traffic, you expect noise, so it doesn’t come as a shock!
Introducing other sounds which distract the ear are useful – rustling trees, wind chimes or perhaps a water fountain. But sadly there is no magic solution.
If all else fails, I can only suggest ear plugs!
Janice Cripps is a professional Surbiton garden designer. For advice, planting plans, or projects – from concept to completion – visit www.janicecripps.co.uk