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Planting for silence: the role of domestic gardens in mitigating urban noise pollution

Project Description

Project Rationale:
According to the WHO, noise pollution is second only to ultra-fine particulate matter in its impact on human health. About 75% of Europe’s population lives in urban areas and c.20% of people are exposed to unacceptable noise levels. Urban greenspace offers respite from noise in cities, partly because it is free of traffic and industry, but also because vegetation affects sound propagation. Yet most assessments of greenspace ignore domestic gardens: only in 2019 were gardens recognised as natural capital, providing vital ecosystem services. Although the broad principles of sound attenuation by vegetation are known, the precise details of which vegetation is best, where and why remain largely unstudied. The RHS wishes to provide advice to its 1/2 million members on what to plant to reduce noise pollution yet information is lacking. At the city scale, urban gardens form a patchwork of varying designs and understanding of how this affects noise pollution is poor. The aim of this project is to fill these knowledge gaps through a combination of experiments and spatial modelling. High public impact is assured through horticultural shows, the RHS website (30 million hits p.a.), and inclusion of advice on the online RHS plant finder database.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibilty and how to apply


Alvares-Sanches, T., Osborne, P.E., White, P.R. and Bahaj, A.S. (2019). Spatial variation in sound frequency components across an urban area derived from mobile surveys. Future Cities and Environment, 5, 1-17.
Blanusa, T., Garratt, M., Cathcart-James, M., Hunt, L. and Cameron, R. W. F. (2019) Urban hedges: a review of plant species and cultivars for ecosystem service delivery in north-west Europe. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 44. 126391.
Osborne, P.E. and Alvares-Sanches, T. (2019). Quantifying how landscape composition and configuration affect urban land surface temperatures using machine learning and neutral landscapes. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 76, 80-90.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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