Machines drown out the sounds of summer

ONE-THIRD of people questioned by the magazine Gardening Which? said that they were disturbed by noise from surrounding gardens, writes David Nicholson-Lord.

Nearly 1,200 people took part in the survey, which identified lawn-mowers as the main offenders. Next came strimmers, chainsaws, hedge trimmers and compost shredders. However, 88 per cent of the sample owned mowers and 18 per cent acknowledged that their own machines made excessive noise.

After machines, mentioned by 56 per cent of those who were upset, came people (50 per cent) and animals (28 per cent). The problem may be related to garden size. More than a quarter of those questioned have a garden of less than 250 square yards.

According to the Noise Abatement Society, higher noise levels are permitted from lawn-mowers than in factories - 90 decibels compared with 85. The society wants lawn-mower levels reduced to 80 decibels. John Connell, the society's chairman, said manual mowers were the most neighbour- friendly but 'nobody likes to push these days'.

The Institution of Environmental Health Officers said complaints about mechanised noise were rising, partly because population increase meant people were living closer to each other.

'Noise from neighbours tends to be more of a problem during the summer months as windows are open and people spend more time out of doors. We have to be more sensitive to our neighbours' rights to enjoy tranquil summer evenings.' It said people should not mow their lawns at anti- social times.