A Quiet Garden in the City

Apr 20, 2015 - POSTED BY Anna Halloran - How To... , Gardeners Choice , Whats Hot

Gardens evoke thoughts of tranquil, green oases – places to relax in and unwind after a hard day’s work. But if you live in the city centre you are probably surrounded by constant noise and then some of that noise will intrude into your relaxation. I have recently had a commission where creating some peace was top of the agenda, and discovered there are some ways you can minimise the external noise of the hustle and bustle of the city, even in a garden.  The two ways I will describe here are as follows:  you can create a barrier that both blocks the sound and absorbs some of the sound and you can create a ‘white noise’ which counter balances the angry noise of the city. There are many acoustic products for external use on the market, and the one I am selecting here is a product from Mobilane. Mobilane is a well-established company selling green screens and living wall products, who also sell the NoiStop acoustic wall.

The NoiStop acoustic wall consists of a core of specialised stone wool that is water repellent and UV resistant. It is designed to maximise the absorption of sound waves, as well as block the noise and bounce it back. There are two designs to choose from and it will depend on your location and planning restrictions which will suit your situation. The brilliant thing about these acoustic walls is that they are only 11.6 cm wide and they come in different heights and lengths. Why do I think the width is so important? Well my idea is to install two panels of attractive, ready grown, ‘Green Screen’ climbers, with the NoiStop acoustic wall in the middle. As it is so slim, the end result will look like a hedge and therefore be visually attractive, whilst still doing the job of lessening the noise.

Then there is NoiStop Wood, which has the same stone wool core in aluminium casing, but on to this acoustic wall they have attached wooden slats.  The wooden slats are made of impregnated Redwood and the NoiStop Wood screens are measured on site. The say the sound reduction of both acoustic walls is between 9 and 12 dB (A), representing a 50-70% reduction of the perceived noise. The reduction of sound is of course dependent on many factors, such as what level the noise comes from, what height the acoustic wall is and the distance between the two.

A totally different approach is to create some noise of our own to counter balance the noise we are trying to reduce. By creating a ‘white noise’ in your garden, you can distract your mind away from the city sounds and focus it on the gentler sounds of water or of the movement of plants in the wind. A water feature is a wonderful focal point in any garden, and both the sight and the sound of a water fall makes me instantly think of peace and harmony. They say that placing a water fall or two in a small city garden really does focus your thoughts on the water, and so helps to create that quiet green oasis in which you can relax. There are also some plant varieties that create a gentle sound with their movement in the breeze, and this is another source of ‘white noise’ that is easy to introduce. Grasses and bamboos come to mind, though a word of caution if your preference lies with bamboos – they are very invasive and I would only specify these to be planted in containers.