Beware of a “powered up” Father’s Day!

Resist the urge!!

noise-pollution_7bde08cd-61fe-4559-a872-7edf30e27942garden-toolsDon’t go Powered Up devices this Father’s Day – THINK of the consequences!!

Father’s Day, birthdays over the age of 40, are the premier events for the most un-considered present!  In days gone by, it might have been a record/CD, Brut after-shave or perhaps a new tie.

These days, a simple trip down to your large hardware big box store can wind up with a motorised device that literally kills quiet, and does very little to improve Dad’s health or wellbeing or those around him.

I refer of course, to the powered garden tool.

When I grew up, we had a 2 stroke mower than was loud, but constant and not a high pitched and annoying scream as so many of these new fangled items offer!  The rest was done with human powered and driven sheers, secateurs, rakes, brooms and thoughtful alternate uses of these for things like edging and pruning.

So, again … RESIST THE URGE!!

Let’s have a NOISE FREE Father’s Day and allow the garden to stay QUIET; the neighbourhood to remain QUIET  and ease ourselves back into the sleepy suburbia we enjoy, simply because of a QUIET approach to gardening!

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The Quiet Gardener as guest on Simon Marnie’s weekend garden segment

If you’re interested, here is the link to my recent appearance on Simon Marnie’s weekend gardening segment on ABC 702AM … it starts at around 3.03.

Hope you enjoy and get something from it 🙂


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Even the government’s “YOUR HOME” site fails to recognise GARDEN NOISE as an issue!

Noise pollution - urban noise issues and concepts word cloud illustration. Word collage concept.

Noise pollution – urban noise issues and concepts word cloud illustration. Word collage concept.

The National government has set up a site for developing better housing across the country. It deals with noise, sustainability, neighbourhoods, health etc etc, BUT NO WHERE does it deal with the intrusive noise of petrol driven garden equipment … I’ve just written to them… FYI …have a look through the site yourself. As I keep saying, NOISE in the suburbs is a creeping cancer that no one recognises, but gets worse each year!

Here is their site, and my letter to them.

garden-toolsGood afternoon,

I have developed a strong passion for “quiet” in the garden and around the home.

One of the greatest noise intrusions over the last 10 years has been the rise in use of petrol powered, “unmufflered” garden equipment. The average house has moved from just a lawn mower to a lawn mower, hedge trimmer, edge trimmer, leaf blower etc … and in the main, these are extremely noisy pieces of equipment.

The other issue is that many people these days look to out-source their garden maintenance programs to garden teams with names such as eco, green, enviro etc and yet all use petrol powered machines that pump decibels like a rock band!

Now, I have just been through the site and find no specific mention of garden tools and devices as (a) a massive source of noise, and (b) alternatives such as traditional hand gardening and possibly battery /electrical operated devices that are quieter.

The suburbs have for years been lampooned as being sleepy places where life breathes in garden-tools
and out, but these days, it has never been noisier as we live closer and closer and many prefer to hide behind ear muffs and crank out the noise when and where they like at the expense of everyone within “coo-ee”

There is a direct neighbourly thing, and it is also a community thing, because one device impacts on many homes, and then you start multiplying these up and you have an absolute cacophony of noise. And its not limited to the weekend warrior as gardening teams roam the suburbs 5-6 days a week and so noise is now a never ending creeping cancer.

As an advisory site, I would suggest that you add in a section on garden and building maintenance noise – every apartment block seems to get leaf blown weekly, edges are done(unneccesarily!) weekly, often schools leaf blow their grounds daily and add excessive noise as well as particulate matter, and if done in the mornings, add greatly to those who might suffer breathing difficulties.

I would also add that in some counties in the USA, petrol driven garden equipment is banned due to noise.

I am more than happy to discuss this matter with you directly as I feel I have a level of understanding and contribution to offer.

Thanks, and regards,

Craig Duckmanton



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Noise is just inconsiderate!

noise-pollution_7bde08cd-61fe-4559-a872-7edf30e27942Gardens just continue to get noisier .. and NOISIER!

There seems to be a never ending desire by gardening teams and everyday home gardeners, to get in and get out quickly – solve the problem and the problem is “untidy”.

“Untidy” can be fixed with trimmers, hedgers, mowers et al, and the majority of these are over-powered 2- and 4-stroke. You just don’t need that much power to trim grass and basic hedging.

With NOISE comes habitat loss as all manner of wildlife detest the noise. Children also hide from NOISE.  And multiply the number of machines you own, by 14 houses impacted by the number of neighbours you have … and, “Houston, we have a problem!!”

NOISE has, in more recent times, got way out of control, and no one (local councils etc) does anything to stop it or limit it. The only limits are on time of day.

NOISE is a community issue. Noise is un-neighbourly and just plain rude. Why should we put up with 1-2 hours of noise harassment from neighbour after neighbour??

noisyIn some USA counties, petrol driven garden machines are banned in favour of battery and electric which are far less noisy.  And of course, why go to the gym when you can get all the exercise you want with sheers, rakes, brooms and other implements of hand held joy!

AND, the most interesting thing is, gardening by human power does NOT take that much longer .. really, it doesn’t!! There is a really poor perception that mechanisation is faster and better… its not.

By hand creates a softer finish – nature doesn’t work in right angles and trees aren’t supposed to be square … but that’s a whole other story!!

Try and take a quieter approach to the garden. Hear the birds, feel the wind, enjoy the serenity!!

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Birds, Bees, Butterflies

birds lorikeets 7726879.Lorikeet02lobees 375033_535933483133523_607511356_nbutterflies July 2008 294

And how easy it is to scare them away with garden noise and savage gardening.  Yet, how important they are on a number of levels.
At a base level, they provide pollination and therefore, procreation for plants. Without their help, so much of plant life, and our food web, would fail.
At an aesthetic level, how lovely are these creatures as they roam around randomly in the garden spaces. How lovely do they look.  How beautiful are their sounds.   How delightful is our simple exposure to nature’s way.
At a spiritual level, they represent so much in terms of biophilic engagement.   That is, the sense of connection we have when nature comes into our lives, and that is often described as peace, serenity, or simply listening to the earth.
The dynamic nature of these gentle garden engagements, amidst the raw nature of creature survival is as complex as it is simple.  Yet every weekend with brutish bravado, we ramp up the two stroke and bludgeon our way through the garden destroying all sense of nature, ambience and delight, scaring away the things that makes our garden great.
Well worth re-considering the many different and more considerate ways to garden with less noise, less brutality and far more sympathy.

And well worth considering that being a “Quiet Gardener” is an important thing!


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NOISE in the suburbs – 5 days a week

Between jobs on Friday, and wearing my “Quiet Gardener” T-Shirt, a retired fellow start a conversation –

garden-tools“What does a Quiet Gardener do?”

“Oh I garden quietly – I tend to use hand tools or battery electric machinery because it doesn’t make the same noise as petrol driven un-muffled machines”

We continued to talk about it and I rolled out my various facts and figures about 14 houses affected by a leaf blower, the over engineered nature of many base model garden machines and the physics of a leaf that won’t turn!  It’s exciting stuff!!

burran 1 imagesHe then noted that he was now retired and lived in one of the more salubrious streets in Mosman, down towards Balmoral Beach, and had done for over 40 years.  In his time there, the street scape had changed from lawns running into each other and modest houses and friendly neighbourhood gatherings, to high hurdle hedges, fences that seclude and exclude, double and triple garages that dominate the street scape leading to no neighbourly interactions … and NOISE!!!

He noted that 5 to 6 days a week, his street is nothing like a sleepy suburbia, but dominated by gardening teams that roar and plunder the various, and multiplicity, of  burran 5 imageshedges and sculptured gardens – the best that money can buy!  Generally, these are gardens driven by ego and one up-ing the neighbours.  Very very very few manage their own gardens and have no qualms importing noise into what should be a delightfully peaceful and serene environment.

Sadly, every day of the week is noise driven maintenance with NO … NONE … ZERO consideration of the noise that attacks this peaceful environment every working day.

It really does need to change for the mental sake of us all.  NOISE is an unsuspecting predator that has taken the suburbs by stealth and nobody seems to consider it a problem. Councils do nothing.  Neighbours and communities do nothing.

It really is time to change this.

Jump on to FACEBOOK and “like” our “Quiet Garden Evolution” now … AND, try to make a quiet difference yourself in the garden and around your home.




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The Future of Noise

leaf blower_t479I was talking to a client the other day, and they said, “why do you bother being a quiet gardener?Noise is just what it is…”

Acceptance rather than appreciating that so much of noise is not necessary, and conversely, that a lack of noise has beneficial health and nature effects is a fixable conundrum. One petrol mower impacts around 14 houses; add in a whipper snipper, hedge trimmer, leaf blower and pretty soon you have an upwardly mobile chart of noise invasion!! The article below is an interesting read – especially the Quiet Mark proposal.

Noise – does it have a future?
Tuesday 4 February 2014 4:26PM Antony Funnell

Too much noise can make us unhappy, stressed and even sick. Around the world people are pushing back against the racket. But it can be hard to decide which noises are welcome and which aren’t, writes Antony Funnell.

noise densities and types
George Gershwin’s classic 1924 composition Rhapsody in Blue not only captured the spirit of Manhattan, but also its sound. Its notes and orchestrations, like musical onomatopoeia, mimicked the bustle and clatter of the city.

In many ways it was a tribute to urbanisation and to the real-life score that accompanies its daily grind. For Gershwin the noise of the city was one of its defining features—an aspect of modern life to be celebrated. But despite the enduring popularity of his piece, the sounds of big city life remain a problematic feature of our urban experience.

“We are moving into a new era where people are understanding how sound actually impacts their health and their productivity.”

For the full article, click here –

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Make space for GOOD noise!!

Backyard Playground for KidsOne of the great problems, I find, with contemporary garden design is that it often forgets who are the main users.


Oh mum and dad might cut, trim, plant and nourish the garden, but probably 95% of the playtime is the children, or little people in your life.

They run, jump, skip, throw a ball, ride a bike, invent a game or just “investigate” nature and all that lurks in the garden.  With nothing at all except nature, kids will happily invent imaginative outcomes – just put them out there, add nothing and watch for almost instant results!!  They will do it singularly or in pairs, triplets or teams.

And with most of this imaginative action, comes noise!!  Good Noise!!   GREAT NOISE!!  Noise you can smile about as a proud parent and feel that you have really offered your kids something terrific.

bean teepee 578828_10150955434233801_715735182_n

So when it comes down to garden design, think NOT about yourself.  Think of your core user group – the kids!  Think of age, play status, growing up stages and interests, and think about designing and creating around these facts.

Above all, think durable; think variation; think secret passages and spaces; think 3D and not flat and boring; think climbing trees not decorative trees; think multi purpose; think kid’s activities… THINK FUN and THINK WONDERFUL!!

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The Reality of the Quiet Gardener

It’s been almost 3 years now since I first arrived at the concept behind the Quiet Gardener, and therefore the quiet garden!

It was all about recreating the scenario of a peaceful, sleepy suburbia; a place where we might escape the noise and hustle and bustle of daily life.  It was a stand against the rise and use of what I describe as “man tools” – the blower, the whipper snipper, the trimmers and cutters that fall in the category of “labour saving devices” yet in reality, they fall into the category of fat generators, noise creators and peace destroyers!!

For those already shaking their heads at what might be now considered standard gardening items, let me ask you a few questions … “What is the garden for?”; “What is the impact of MY noise on those around me, and the nature around me?”

And I might also make a couple of statements ….“Manual labour is good for you, and the benefits ensuing are enjoyed by those around you!”; “You can DO IT efficiently and well(gardening) without over-engineered machinery!”

I’ve now worked as “the quiet gardener” for over 18 months.  This has involved a wide range of gardening from a non-gardeners perspective – I dig, maintain, trim, weed, plant, prune, shovel and mow.  While its hard to always be a quiet gardener as the commercial needs also abound, MOSTLY, I clip, sweep, rake, edge, dig, cut and prune manually.

And amazingly, I create finishes that are softer, less brutal and harsh, natural and aesthetically pleasing. As an analogy, you can trim your hair regularly and keep it neat and under control, or you can take to it with buzz sheers for a savage number 1 and let it grow out over time.   The quiet gardener is the former… ticking away regularly, and maintaining a natural, evolving look!

My clients range from small to large gardens, and not one has complained about my lack of power tool use – I complete the job, and most comment on the “no noise” compared to their neighbours “rev head” approaches!

The concept of the quiet garden has been lost through “stealth” – year on year, fathers day by fathers day, we have seen the constant development of labour saving man tools that take away the “load” of gardening manually.  And over the years, dad’s have got fatter; dad’s have reduced the incidental garden exercise, noise has risen, input costs have increased and a relaxing peaceful neighbourhood has been abso-bloody-lutely shattered!!

In some council areas abroad, petrol driven garden machinery have been banned as a means of eliminating unnecessary noise.  Why is that not possible and a viable option for all communities where we start to re-engage with the concept of community living and shared space, that INCLUDES sound and, therefore, noise minimisation.

It’s feasible and do-able…. the quiet garden is reality and not fantasy!!


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“How does your garden grow?”

Head and Heart

The head or the heart? What is the balance?

Now living down the bottom end of the leafy north shore in Sydney, I can’t help but feel a madness has come over a vast majority of gardens in terms of design, maintenance(cost and time), usage and really coming to grips with what a garden is really all about?

Down here, the easy answer is that it’s all about the “added value to my house” with little sense as to actually living and enjoying the garden!! I know I’ve sprouted this before, but it seems to me that far too many people are trying to create the gardens from the Palace of versailles on their less than quarter acre block in the suburbs of Sydney. And in the main, they can’t manage it themselves, so they buy in the “slave support” that the King of France was able to garner to create this artistic miracle.

Let’s face it – Gardens grow.

To trim and cut and hide their evolution I feel limits the way we have planned the garden to “become”. It’s a little like “Ground Hog Day” because when we constantly trim and shape, we are not creating anything new and we are not allowing the garden to evolve. Instead, we are simply, and constantly, re-drawing the same canvas and re-painting the same picture.

Those aspiring to a rigid 90degree’d box hedge trim have a lot to answer for in terms of look, noise and time wasted on….????

I feel this scenario provides us with a wonderful opportunity to develop our sense of the “anal” and become obsessed with a static image rather than an evolving garden. Such gardens draw lines, hard and fast, about what can and can’t take place in this space. It’s almost fanatical in it’s contribution, and loathsome in it’s structure and continuance.

Each week in the garden turns out to be the same, and each seasonal view is unchanging. That famous nursery rhyme asking Mary the question about “How does your garden grow” is totally superfluous in this environment, because we know exactly what the answer is every day.

People may pass by and offer kind words of praise and beauty, INITIALLY, but it won’t take them long to have this type of static image totally unseen in their minds as they pass by because it doesn’t offer interest, change or any sense of variation, yet that is exactly what gardens should be about so that we can tempt the senses, nourish a desire to witness growth and be part of a dynamic and holistic connection with nature.

Unfortunately, this first streetscape scenario is becoming all too familiar.

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