Water features, such as fountains and artificial streams, are excellent white noise generators. I have three of them and right now they are obscuring the sound of my neighbor’s AM radio talk shows that he must play at full volume. But, water features have drawbacks; they are usually made of plastic or concrete, and require electricity and maintenance.

Here’s another way, perhaps better, to create white noise: bring in the sounds of nature! In my garden, I hear birds, frogs, chipmunks and squirrels and, best of all, bees and droning insects. The benefits to you and to your fellow creatures on earth are obvious. Building and providing habitat is immensely satisfying and not only provides pleasing sounds but watching nature is fascinating and will help you forget the drone of traffic noise.

I challenge you to find a more relaxing habit than watching bees going about their daily foraging scrabbling in flowers and filling their pollen baskets.

A bird feeder will attract some cheepers but a more complete approach that creates habitat will bring in the greatest number and variety of creatures. Some will say invertebrates are the backbone of the food chain, but I will say it’s your soil. Feed your soil with mulch and organic matter, and don’t use herbicides or pesticides. Your creature-rich habitat will grow from there. More ideas to get you started:

  • The best habitat is messy. Develop an appreciation for a casual gardening style and leave many areas minimally groomed. Here’s your excuse to put away the lawn mower.
  • Provide water. Nothing brings in creatures like water, especially moving water. Bees, birds and mammals will visit the water you provide. Design it with their needs in mind.
  • Provide shelter. Brush piles and log piles all provide excellent, necessary hiding spaces and perches.
  • Provide food. Bird feeders help but even better are plants that grow berries, fruit and nuts. Native plants are especially helpful.
  • Plant your garden thickly with pollinator plants, and bring in the bees!

Creatures make great nature sounds, but so do plants so populate your garden with pleasingly noisy ones. Bamboo, apsen, birches, pines with long needles, ornamental grasses, plants with noisy seed pods or rustling large strap leaves can all create a perfectly wonderful soundscape. Take particular care to locate them near places you sit, or near doors and windows you like to keep open.

Creating a relaxing soundscape involves layering sounds. Think of the sounds of nature as one very important layer. It won’t solve all of your noise abatement problems, but it can be a critical element that, combined with others, brings about your quieter garden. Plus, building soil and habitat takes time. Best to get started right away.

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