Sound can make or break the overall atmosphere of your space. External sounds can create an all-encompassing sense of peace and calmness and can also set our teeth on edge. We have all heard of those scenarios; you’ve finally purchased your dream home after months of searching. It’s in the right neighbourhood, and everything seems to have gone to plan. But disaster! The first time you go outside to enjoy your new outdoor space, you’ve found your garden is situated near a main road, a trainline, or a primary school playground, and your presumed peaceful garden escape has become a hotbed for unwanted noise. Outside of upping sticks and moving again, how are you supposed to manage? Never fear; in this article, we will explore the creative ways you can effectively soundproof your garden, to ensure the peace and quiet you deserve, from installing fencing, to clever planting, to dotting furnishing into corners, nooks, and alcoves. Let’s look at some of our favourite ideas.
A garden fence acts as the first line of defence against any unwanted sound, separating your outdoor space from the rest of the world. There are many options for a completed garden border, including brickwork, traditional timber, aluminium, concrete, and modular composite fence panels. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the one you choose is really dependant on your aesthetic preferences and how long you want your fencing to last. For example, timber looks incredibly rustic and natural, but can succumb the harmful effects of weathering if is left untreated by preservatives. Furthermore, timber is not the most soundproof material, unless the gaps between the individual boards is appropriately packed with acoustic fence materials.
To get an indication of how soundproof your fencing is, look for the STC (sound transmission class) rating listed in the product specification. Most fencing will be advertised as having “acoustic fence” properties. However, it is important to bear in mind that no fencing is entirely soundproof, so be wary of any fencing panels that boasts complete noise cancellation. As a rule, if any air can flow through the gaps in your fencing, sound waves will also be able to travel through your space. Denser materials such as brick and concrete will be the most effective for locking sound out, but these will likely fall on the more expensive end of your budget. If you want to create this kind of soundproofing on a budget, densely packed hand built stone walls or gabions can work wonders.
Once your fencing is installed, there a more steps you can implement to reduce external sound. Ever noticed how quiet a woodland or canopied forest area is? This is because lots of foliage planted close together can work as an effective muffler against noise. Using this technique from nature, you can use carefully positioned dense potted plants and small trees against your fencing in your own space to limit the amount of noise that enters your garden. Topiary hedgerows, or any other densely compacted kinds of tree or hedge, can massively help to minimise unwanted sound.
Outside of simply dotting planning along the border of your garden space, there are other creative ways to use plants to help with noise reduction. For example, hanging a trellis of plants on top of your fencing or cladding can also help to absorb some of the noise travelling into your garden. Alternatively, investing in a pergola and hanging planting above your seating area can transform the space into more of a canopy, creating the same kind of peaceful environment as a quiet woodland area. You can even get creative with where you position your planters too. A raised timber planter placed directly in front of your fencing has the potential to block out many soundwaves travelling through your space.
When soundproofing an indoor room, you are really trying to minimise the number of surfaces that the sound can bounce from. This is why recording booths are lined with layers of foam, to minimise the pickup of any sounds that are being made beyond the studio space. This same principle can be applied to your outdoor space too, so populating your garden space with soft outdoor furnishings could help to deaden some of the unwanted sound. Corners should be rounded off, to avoid soundwaves bouncing off walls.
Adorning any outdoor furniture with waterproof cushions is a great way to begin adding furnishings to your garden space. As well as this, outdoor rugs are a great way to trap noise, covering up potentially reflective surfaces for soundwaves to bounce off. This will have the added benefit of making your garden space feel more homely, with a more considered, welcoming design. You can use outdoor rugs on top of your decking to complement any outdoor furniture, and you may be surprised by how much this can impact the sound travelling through your space.
It may sound counterproductive, but a great way to minimise the amount of sound travelling into your garden is to drown it out with another noise. There is a reason many homeowners install features such as windchimes and bird tables into their space, as it allows the brain to focus on these gentler, natural sounds rather than the intrusive rackets travelling from beyond your environment. The human brain is very good at tuning out any unwanted information, so giving it something to concentrate on beyond external sounds can have an enormous effect in helping your garden feel like a quieter space.
Slow, trickling water features offer a relaxing alternative compared to outside interferences, such as the noise from traffic or construction sites. These water features can be simple, ornamental additions such as a sculpture, or a larger installation, like a stream, pond, or rill. By installing these into your space, you will find you will be able to focus less out those more irritating, unwelcome sounds, and instead zone in on the more calming sound of trickling water in your immediate garden surroundings.