The garden can be the most magical place in your home. For many people, the garden is a safe haven. Being surrounded by plants, flowers, shrubs, and herbs that you’ve grown yourself can be very satisfying and, at times, comforting. However, the garden needs more than just beautiful sights and smells. Another important element in the garden is sound; a factor that can add more life to your garden and make it even more inviting.
Here are some of the simple ways that you can do to add more sound to your garden:
Add bird feeders, nests, and bird baths
Imagine walking through a peaceful forest or park. What do you hear? Perhaps you would hear the sound of birdsong, twittering, or wings flapping in the wind. Many of us associate nature with the sound of birds. Bringing the same element to your garden can make it more organic and more peaceful while also bringing in wildlife.
Attracting birds to your garden is pretty easy and hassle-free. Set up a bird feeder and a birdbath in your garden, and you will see them visit pretty often all year round. These birds will sing and tweet for you in exchange for good food and a safe haven. Not only that– you will also get to enjoy the sights of different bird species visiting your garden from time to time (the common ones being jays, dunnocks, wood pigeons, sparrowhawks, woodpeckers, and more).
Aside from bird feeders and birdbaths, you can also add nesting sites or nesting boxes to your garden in order to encourage birds to make their own nests. This will provide them with a safe space to live and lay their young. Place these structures, along with the feeders and baths, away from the house so that they have fewer chances of colliding with windows– and away from predators such as cats as well.
Waterfalls or fountains to create the sound of running water
The sound of water is another relaxing and wonderful element to add to your garden. Installing a man-made waterfall or garden fountain should do the trick and add the sound of moving water for a more organic feel to your garden.
If you have the time and resources, you can create a man-made pond or waterfall in your garden. Small ones can be pretty easy to make with materials that you can find at a home depot like various rocks, pond liners, spillway rocks, as well as tubing and pumps to make the water run.
On the other hand, installing a fountain is an easier way to replicate the sound of running water in the garden. Water fountains can be less expensive and they can be easily installed in garden beds or the patio, instantly creating the sound of a gentle trickle of water for a more tranquil vibe.
Choose better surface materials on paths and walkways
There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a crunch under your step while walking through a garden. Adding surface materials such as pebbles, rocks, or gravel to paths or walkways can be an easy way to add sound to your garden while also improving its look.
However, it’s also important to consider function aside from sound and aesthetic. Chunky rocks can make it a wee bit difficult for you to walk through the garden (even though it provides a satisfying crunching sound as you walk) and can be a bit dangerous for elderly and children. A natural rocky surface material can be great for some parts of the garden, but for paths with high traffic, consider adding man-made stone materials that are flat and easier to walk on.
Another important thing to consider about adding walkways is to add a weed blocker at least eight inches deep in the soil. This will prevent weeds and other plants from sprouting in between the stone pathways and making it harder for you to trim them.
Moreover, you can also try allowing bigger plants to spill through the walkway so that when you walk through, they can replicate the sound of walking through a forest. Many gardeners appreciate the sound and feel of it and maybe you will, too, so try letting your plants grow a bit more.
Make use of the wind
One way of adding more sound to your garden with the use of wind is by having plants that flutter beautifully when it blows. Plants that have round leaves or hollow stems can create a natural forest-y sound as the wind blows through them (e.g. conifer and bamboo). Consider also planting tall grass in the parts of your garden where it is most sunny and windy, as these plants can provide a great rustling sound that most gardeners love.
Furthermore, here are some examples of plants that you can add to your garden in order to achieve the natural sound of plants in the wind:
- Briza maxima
- Sweet corn
- Tall grasses
- Goat’s beard
The use of wind chimes is also one of the oldest and most commonly used elements in the garden to add melodic sound. Wind chimes can come very cheap but the cheaper ones produce a sound that is annoyingly higher or abrasive. Moderately priced and more expensive wind chimes produce deeper and more melodious sounds. Thus, it’s better to invest in more expensive ones that can also last a long time without rusting.
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Wind chimes can be tuned to different keys and can have various resonances. Small ones can be great for quaint gardens. On the other hand, bigger wind chimes that can be up to 90 inches in length are recommended for bigger gardens so that the sound echoes well throughout the area.
Aside from wind chimes and sound-producing plants, many gardeners also like to hang bells from trees. A lot of wind chime manufacturers also produce bells that have a minimal but mood-setting sound. Having a bell in your garden can set a tranquil mood that is great for meditation, while having multiple can create a beautiful melody in your garden especially on moderately windy days.
Use soundproof fences
As much as it is important to add sound to your garden, it’s also important to keep outside noise from entering your sacred space. This is especially true for people who live on busy streets or those who have noisy neighbors. Outside noise can ruin otherwise peaceful garden activities such as meditating, gardening, and relaxing.
Sound travels in a straight line and bounces off hard surfaces. Thus, the principle of soundproofing your garden is based on keeping outside noise out and inside noise in with the use of hard fences.
Soundproof fences or acoustic fences are generally made of a thick material (like in soundproof doors and walls) and are great insulators aside from being good sound absorbers. This means that they can block street noise from entering while also keeping garden sounds from disturbing the neighbors. Remember, not everyone likes the sound of wind chimes!
Install an outdoor speaker
If you can’t get natural sound in your garden due to lack of time or resources, you can just simply install an outdoor speaker to add music. This is the easiest and simplest way to integrate some sound in your garden. Plus, you get to choose what type of sound you can play, too.
There are a lot of outdoor speakers available today that can blend in well with your garden. There are plantable speakers that you can plot in the soil, speakers that you can mount on the wall, and speakers that look like rocks or other organic material that can be placed anywhere. Just make sure that these speakers are installed in places where they are free from moisture, unless they are waterproof.
You can set these speakers to play a default garden sound, or customize your own track that you can play on a loop. Oftentimes, these synthetic sounds can deliver the same relaxing effect as you work or lounge in your garden.
Derive inspiration from Japanese zen gardens
Japanese zen gardens are historic pieces of Japanese culture. These types of gardens are designed to showcase Japanese landscaping, philosophies, style, and sceneries. Japanese gardens have special sound devices that have been used for a very long time. We can derive inspiration from some of their sound devices such as the Chōzubachi, which is a traditional stone water basin wherein visitors of the temple wash their hands. The sound comes from the water dripping down to Suikinkutusu which is hidden from view. The sound is said to resemble a Japenese bell called ‘koto’.
Another traditional sound device commonly found in Japanese gardens is a Shishi Odishi, which means ‘scare the deer’. It is a device made of bamboo wherein water is poured in one side. When the water fills up, the bamboo would tip over and clack against the stone or basin, thus resulting in a sound that can scare away deer or other skittish animals.
This device combines the sound of running water and a rhythmic wooden clacking sound, and it is one of the most tranquil sound devices in the garden.