By CPCAG member Eileen Peck
At the end of a hot summer’s day, when the sun is sinking and the birds are singing their best, what pleasure it is to take a walk around the neighbourhood, perhaps chatting to neighbours and looking at the neat suburban gardens. But wait, what’s going on here? Where once there were neat lawns, flower borders and bushes is emerging a new style of garden – fence to fence paving, plastic grass and barely a spot for any self-respecting bee to find a flower to pollinate!
Because there’s been a massive growth in the number of cars on our roads we’re always looking for somewhere to park, and if we aren’t too keen on gardening we’d like to cut down on the work. So, what better solution than paving over the front garden, laying plastic grass and ‘planting’ plastic bushes. The Royal Horticultural Society reports that in the UK a third of gardens are now completely paved, three times as many as a decade ago.
But wait, just how does this fit in with the government’s declaration of a ‘climate and environmental emergency’, with the increasing reports of roads flooding and the decline in the bee population? Although government regulations in 2008 removed the need for planning permission for covering a front garden with a hard surface, it has to be permeable to let rain water drain off to prevent flooding, but there is much less concern for the loss of the use of our front gardens by wildlife. Bees, worms and other insects (on whom, we need to remind ourselves, our own food supplies depend!) now need to go further afield to find a suitable place to live or visit and these are increasingly difficult to find.
‘Green’ gardens also play an important role in creating ‘green corridors’ which connect fragments of green space in urban areas. To add to that there is the part played by grass and garden plants in keeping our air fresh, absorbing carbon dioxide and pollutants and (let’s face it!) keeping our planet fit for us to live on. The plant life of planet Earth is what helps to keep the planet temperature stable and the carbon dioxide/oxygen balanced and within the limits which make human existence possible. We destroy and neglect the natural world at our peril!
You might also like to think about the effect having a ‘green’ garden has on keeping your home comfortable to live in. A hedge or row of trees can cut down on noise and air pollution.
The solution to providing parking space for cars while keeping the garden ‘green’ isn’t difficult: Around the paved car-parking area there can be a flower border, bushes and/or some pots or hanging baskets filled with wildlife-friendly plants. It’s amazing just how many plants can be fitted into a small space beside the front door or in a border along the fence.
Plenty of advice if available from the RHS at:
If you’re thinking of paving over the garden to cut down on work then couldn’t the money paid to the paving company go a very long way in paying for a local gardener to keep an eye on things?
If you have a garden near you which looks as if it is a haven for wildlife, which brings a smile to your face and which helps you to feel that the natural world is still flourishing in your neighbourhood you might like to pop a letter of thanks through the letter box.
For a sample letter see -