Why wind chimes are the UK’s most hated garden accessory

Wind chimes

A UK poll conducted by market research company OnePoll.com reveals that caravans parked in driveways, garden gnomes and over-sized trampolines are high on the list of Britain’s most hated garden accessories. But the most hated, by far, are wind chimes.

The literal translation of feng shui is “wind and water”, and feng shui consultants often recommend wind chimes as “cures” for various problems. So I want to go on record at this point and state that I’ve never recommended them to any client I’ve ever worked with, and never will. Here’s why…

Wind chimes can drive neighbours mad

In my book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, I mention an experiment (Lefcourt, 1976) in which two groups of people were given complicated puzzles and a piece of proof-reading to do while being subjected to an irritating noise. One group had a button that enabled them to turn off the noise; the other group did not. Not surprisingly, the group with control completed five times more puzzles and did a much better job of the proof-reading than the group that had to put up with the noise. But very surprisingly, this group never actually pushed the button to turn off the noise! As Howard Bloom explained in his book, The Lucifer Principle, ‘it wasn’t the noise or lack of it that affected their performance; it was the mere idea that if they’d wanted to, they could shut it off.’

So what drives people mad about having to listen to a neighbour’s wind chimes is that they can’t turn them off. This doesn’t stress the owner because they have it within their power to disable them whenever they want to but it can drive neighbours up the wall, and this certainly doesn’t lay a good foundation for good relationships.

Movement of wind or water certainly can be a method of activating sluggish energy or chi, but this particular form needs to be used with the utmost care and is certainly not suitable for urban environments with neighbours living close by. It’s a form of noise pollution that most people do not welcome at all.

Wind chimes make you busy

Another unfortunate side-effect of wind chimes is that the constant noise keeps your mind full of chatter and means that you never fully rest. This affects you even more than your neighbours because the sound is closer to you.

I’ve often observed that people with outdoor wind chimes are always busy, generally in useless, unproductive ways. There’s no stillness in their lives, and very little navigation. They seem to be pulled this way and that, with as little rhyme or reason as the way the wind blows. The continual activation of their energy by the sound of the chimes keeps them on the move, but it’s mostly running around in circles rather than purposefully moving forward.

These disruptive effects are well known to meditators, of course. Far from being restful, background noises such as wind chimes will limit all but the most experienced to a superficial practice, where the sounds keep bringing them back to the chattering mind.

The Top 20 most hated garden accessories in the UK

So in case you’re planning to install a few garden features of your own, or want to know how irritated people may be by the ones you or your neighbour already have, here’s the full list, compiled in 2010:

1   Wind chimes
2   Caravans
3   Over-sized trampolines
4   Garden gnomes
5   Children’s swings
6   Solar lights
7   Hanging baskets
8   Swimming pools
9   Footballs
10 Water fountains
11 Swing balls
12 Towing trailers
13 Conservatories
14 Sprinklers
15 Bird feeders
16 Football goal posts
17 Children’s climbing frames
18 Barbecues
19 Hot tubs
20 Garden ponds

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Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2011, updated 2016


About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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16 Responses to Why wind chimes are the UK’s most hated garden accessory

  1. C.M. says:

    Wind chimes remind me of graveyards… They are often put up, especially on younger people’s resting places and that is what the sound reminds me of…so rather sad.

    When they were popular about 25 yrs ago, I was driven mad by them.. clunk…donk…clunk…donk.. those were the bamboo type, then ting, ding, tinkle, tinkle, ting, ..aargh, just unbearable. Mercifully they are now out of fashion, apart from when visiting the graveyard where our parents are.

    Noise of birds is quite lovely…even the chatter of sparrows, and cannot be compared to neighbour’s wretched chimes!

    Dogs barking I agree are ghastly, and cruel for the dogs to be left to yap incessantly.

    My number one ‘bugbear’ is trampolines. Hideously ugly, visually obtrusive, and the noise they engender is ghastly… the kids scream and yell when on them, and the Whump, shriek, whump, SCREAM Whump WHUMP scream shriek WHUMP squeak, sounds like very heavy people having “marital relations” on a bed.

    The tinkling of ornamental fountains can be irritating too… Some people have very sharp hearing, and are very sensitive to sounds.. I have even had to take the batteries out of a clock when staying overnight at a friend’s …[was sure to reset clock in the morning] as the TICK/tick/TICK tick was so maddening.

    Yet our neighbour had a 17th century clock, the chimes of which could be heard, and that was not irritating..maybe as she actually said “does my clock disturb you?” [it was put against a party wall]…it was so considerate of her to ask, and my son loved it, as if he works in the night, he could tell by the chimes of Doreen’s venerable old clock what the hour was.. [it only chimed the hours].

    Can’t see how hanging baskets could be annoying..unless left to wilt and die, and then, yes, they look unsightly. But well tended lush ones can be nice..albeit a bit “Pub garden” which makes one think are some of these down to snob value, as opposed to sound annoyances?

  2. Steven says:

    I agree they are awful things. Worse is that I can’t stand how ignorant people are – that they think a whole street won’t mind chiming noises all day. Fell out with my neighbour of 20 years over this. Asked politely to take them down, or at least at night as it was putting me off sleep. Met with negative reaction, had to call police. I’m not kidding.

  3. zena says:

    I hate them. I have next door neighbour down the road, 3 doors down, and every time I go out in the garden you hear the battering of metal. Good and fine if in China, maybe they don’t get as much wind every day like we do up in the Highlands, it drives me mad. I would love to stand outside and listen to the sound of the wind, peaceful air, and all I hear is, chime, chime, chime, chime, chime. We live in hills, and the wind does get strong, and you can hear the chime, chime halfway down the street. I go out and hang washing, chime, chime, chime, chime, I stand outside and wait for dog, chime, chime, chime, chime, and I out and garden to get a breather and watch stars, chime, chime, chime, chime. I have window open to get some fresh air, and all you hear is chime, chime, chime, chime, after a while it starts to P* you off. Maybe it doesn’t annoy the people who have the things, but for others, all you hear every day, constant wind, is chime, chime, chime, chime, drives me mad

  4. E Walker says:

    Here’s the thing: Are the wind chime owners within earshot of the chimes? Are they outside when it’s windy? No, and they can’t hear them from inside. So what’s the point? To drive the neighbors nuts! The same 3 or 4 notes over and over and over and over, OMG. You like that? Take it down. Take it down now. Re-purpose the materials into something purposeful. If you don’t, I’m sending my banjo-playing husband over to your place to entertain you whenever the wind blows.

    • Lisa says:

      Yes, I can hear my beautiful wind chimes from inside my house — of course — they lull me to sleep and gently awaken me in the morning (breeze dependent), and calm me throughout the day — and I doubt the neighbors hear anything (over their barking dogs). However, I have had many neighbors walk past my house, when I am outside, to stop and tell me how beautiful the sound is. I don’t know what kind of wind chimes you have had contact with, but mine are made by Woodstock Percussion and they are tuned to a musical scale — I own Amazing Grace and Chimes of Bali. Angelic, nothing like the banjo. Pay up, and you will change your mind about chimes.

      • E Walker says:

        LIsa, you’ve got spunk! I like that. Our debate now is about chimes vs. banjos. The wind doesn’t make a chime chime. The wind causes the parts to bang into each other, like a blow of digits on banjo strings. Plus, the chime like a banjo is designed to reverberate and amplify the struck tones. Debate-worthy too, that our neighbor didn’t spend enough to get the good ones (hinted at) and that the notes aren’t up to par? In fact, they’re perfectly tuned. It’s the repetitiousness and randomness of the banging, clanging, dinging… the chimes are helpless and hapless against the wind –just like the neighbors who didn’t ask for it, didn’t want it, preferring, perhaps, to hear the wind without the random tings –especially neighbors who are already at their peak tolerance levels with a banjo picker’s deliberate repetition going on inside and cannot escape to get a break if the wind is blowing outside.

  5. Jeanne says:

    Not even one of those items on the top 20 list annoys me, and I LOVE wind chimes. Perhaps if all 20 of them were in everyone’s yards, I’d get annoyed by the “visual” pollution, but not like mad over it. I love other people’s wind chimes too. Whenever I hear them, I get a good feeling. I guess it’s really personal. Just a bit confused by the hate of them. Maybe I like them because mine only chime in higher winds, so they don’t chime very often, which is why I like it when they do? They have such a pleasant sound… Maybe I’m way too tolerant!?! lol

  6. Jody says:

    Funny- I live in Astoria, Oregon, USA, and I LOVE wind chimes! I have several hanging from under the eves of my home. Usually they tinkle sweet tunes in the breeze. I’ve never had any complaints, in fact most people who visit remark that it’s like entering a secret garden, including my closet neighbor! And, I must agree, barking dogs top the list of irritating noise in my book! By the way, how can someone dislike bird feeders? I also love feeding the birds!

    • mary says:

      The dogs are probably barking because of the wind chimes. The chime noise is excruciating to them. Like a nail on the chalk board.

  7. Jan says:

    I live in Perth, Western Australia and am amazed at the long list of grumps. I shouldn’t be amazed as I originally came from the UK and I think it is a way of life over there. I have lived here for 35yrs, and retired and if that survey was taken here then the list would be very different. Anyone coming to live in Perth then a lot of the outdoor activities and gdn decorations would have to be accepted , as it is a very outdoor life. Although I am not ‘into’ sport myself, it is a way of life here, and outdoor sounds are part of the atmosphere. Al fresco eating, children in swimming pools, magpies chortling, parrots squawking etc etc is part of the lovely way of life here. I must say garden Gnomes are not common here and are a bit of a joke.

    It would be great if Karen and hubby came to live in Perth as, because we are so ‘isolated’ (in other words are far away from the other large cities in Aust), we tend to be forgotten when it comes to new businesses, and I think there is only one other Feng Shui expect in Perth and of course we are sort of close to Bali, which is such a popular holiday destination for WA people. Although our population has exploded in the last few years and we are seeing a few more new products. So I wish you both well wherever you settle.

    Best Regards, Jan

  8. Lisa says:

    My wind chimes are a much kinder sound than the next door neighbor’s two dogs which bark six or seven hours NON-stop per day while they are comfortably at work elsewhere. Or how about the cigarette smoke which wafts over to my patio when they arrive home? I own nothing else objectionable on this list of 20 annoying items except a bird feeder which attracts bluebirds, woodpeckers, goldfinch, robins, cardinals, wrens etc etc etc — a delight — I think I’m OK.

    • Jaye says:

      Yes, Lisa, I much prefer the sound of lovely wind chimes to barking dogs. We have the same problem here on occasion, with dogs. Very annoying. There *are* wind chimes that have an unpleasant sound, kind of tinny, but if you get really good ones, they just sound lovely. The wooden chimes don’t do much for me, sound-wise…but still better than barking dogs! LOL And bird feeders? Why would people object to those? Some of the things on that list amaze me – hanging baskets??? water fountains??? solar lights??? Sheesh!

  9. Tina says:

    Interesting to read about the wind chimes. But very sad that neighbors hate everything that makes kid play outside in the garden. I don’t like gardening, and our house here in California doesn’t even have a real patio, but I would wish that my younger kids would have the possibility to swing a little outside when stressed, or burn some energy jumping like their older siblings could when we still had a house with a garden were children could play.

    • Jaye says:

      I agree with you, Tina…some of the things on that list are ridiculous and seem to indicate pretty crabby neighbours!

      • Vickie says:

        I agree and for what is more there are plenty of people who “hate” the weather or the water or the lack of it and instead of finding the perfect place to settle they follow jobs that they hate and complain to the rest of the population about how much they really hate it and wish it were different. Then they spend their precious personal Qi (and everyone else’s) complaining to the rest of the population about how they hate it and want it to change. We are going backwards. We need to wake up the sleepy heads. We need to be more at peace internally. Too much focus is directed outwardly.

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