Do you find peace and quiet in your garden?

Pigeon in birdbath

With the weather improving, many of us will be heading out into our gardens. But do you find that noisy neighbours or pesky animals ruin it for you?

Ah, the spring! The first flowers are open and the weather is mild enough to tempt us into the garden.

And there’s nothing better than sitting in your garden on a sunny afternoon, cool drink in hand, listening to the birds singing… or the neighbours cutting through a huge pile of logs with a chainsaw… or dogs incessantly yapping.

In February we asked over a thousand Which? members which noises they loved and which bothered them in the garden. The results really got us talking.

Nuisance noise

Of the people who told us they’d been bothered by noise in their garden, almost two fifths had been bothered by a dog or dogs barking. Road and traffic noise were a big irritant too along with neighbours’ garden parties.

A fifth who’d been bothered by noise found the sound of someone mowing the lawn irritating. But a lot of people also said they found the same sound restful.

Bird song was reported as the most restful sound – but not seagulls, cockerels, rooks or wood pigeons.
As for me, I don’t mind the gentle tinkle of a wind-chime, but my colleague describes her neighbour’s wind chime as ‘infuriating tuneless dissonant clanging’.

But cats fighting, foxes yelping and in one case, cannon fire from a medieval festival, all seem to jangle our nerves.

Combatting unwelcome noise

Some noise you can never get rid of, but can fade into the background once you’re used to it, like traffic. Other noise can be dealt with after a quiet word with the neighbours.

So what do you do to combat unwelcome noise in your garden? Do you retaliate or retreat inside? What noises are the most irritating for you, and which do you find restful?

Steve says:
17 June 2016

I understand some people still want/have to work on their cars engines but do they need to keep revving the engine when its running? It’s just not necessary as it proves nothing, if their car’s not running properly, revving the heart out of it isn’t going to help. It seems their brain is in their foot rather than their head!


Well how topical is this! From about 6.30pm until 11.00pm last night, someone in the village where I live decided to hold an outdoor event which involved continuous loud thump, thump, thump disco type “music” that could be both felt and heard above the TV, my noise cancelling headphones and all the double-glazed windows firmly closed. The only escape to drown it out was to turn up the headphone volume to a more gentle type music until it stopped.

There was no prior warning in the local news magazine of any such event taking place and I am wondering what effect this has had on the unfortunate people in the community with hypersensitive hearing. It has left me feeling quite drained to-day.

John says:
17 June 2016

In our village (c300 people and 115 homes) we have a ‘Quiet Sunday’ custom under which people are asked not to use machinery outdoors after 12 noon on Sundays. Most people follow the custom so that Sunday afternoons are generally quiet, the main noise comes on sunny days from leisure motor bikers roaring up the hill on the main road out of the village, a problem the police and local authority seem unwilling to tackle.


Good idea!! Years ago, we respected Sunday and tried to keep loud things for the week!!
Loud music in cars is louder in the summer too, when the car windows are open!!

Richard says:
7 August 2016

Dear John

I’d be VERY interested in learning more about how this was conceived and brought about.
We’d love to propose the same here in our small but noisy village!

Barry says:
17 June 2016

Almost guaranteed, on a rare sun drenched Sunday p.m. & garden relaxing time , out come the petrol mowers or DIY mania. Ban them on Sunday , as in Germany!

Deryck says:
17 June 2016

Oh how I agree! We lived in Germany for several years and he peace and quiet on a Sunday made sitting in the garden a pleasure. How about a petition to parliament on the subject?

Richard says:
18 June 2016

Sadly I have to concur with so many other correspondents. I am driven to distraction by the whine of 2 Stroke engines – mainly strimmers, but also chainsaws, hedge trimmers, and, God forbid, Leaf Blowers [!].

A Sunday ban seems a basic 1st start, and clearly quite practical as in several European countries.

The availability of petrol driven machinery at very cheap prices hardly helps, and Which testing Leaf Blowers etc without even mentioning the pollution issue is reprehensible.

The issue is a cultural one. Why people can’t enjoy the sound of birdsong and the fresh air without blighting it is beyond credence. It disappoints me greatly that support for organizations like the Noise Abatement Soiciety is so limited, and that DIY stores, Aldi, Lidl, et al punt this machinery to all without the dreadful damage done by their use being even acknowledged.

We keep a quarter acre garden with mostly electrical appliances quite happily, but then we don’t try to make it look like a Municipal Park.

Phil says:
18 June 2016

One of our close neighbours (3 doors away in a Victorian terraced street) leaves their (very large, though not ferocious) dog out for hours. It is the sort of large dog used in the mountains to guard flocks from Wolves, so it is bred to be an outdoor door dog. But it is outside for long periods and while out if often barks for long periods. It is impossible to enjoy the peace of the garden because when this happened, there isn’t any. The owner does not come out to see if there is anything particular it is barking at. Mostly she sits in the front of the house with the TV on, so she cannot hear it. However the owner simply says that anyone criticising does not understand dogs.