Greening Grey Britain

Since Easter this year, the RHS have been campaigning to Green Greying Britain and recently, more and more people are joining the crusade to transform our front gardens into sustainable spaces instead of just plain old paving. With over a third of London’s gardens now being completely paved over and many other parts of the country losing their green spaces to concrete, it’s more important than ever to do your bit to get Britain green again.

Earlier in the year, Sean Murray, winner of the Great Chelsea Garden Challenge, had the chance to showcase his idea for a sustainable garden at Chelsea and more recently, Simon Fagg, revealed his Spiralling into Control show garden at RHS Tatton Park. Both garden designers managed to incorporate the objectives of the Greening Grey Britain campaign to create gardens that were both sustainable and functional, without forfeiting aesthetics.

Spiralling into Control show garden

Why Greening Grey Britain is important

Often people forget the part that their own garden plays in the larger environment and so don’t consider the damage that paving over their space can cause. Gardens host a huge range of benefits for the environment, local wildlife and our physical and mental well-being, and as our climate continues to change, we need to do everything we can to protect Britain against the negative impacts of losing our green spaces, particularly in urban areas.

Not only does paving take away all the ornamental value of your front garden but it can contribute to increased temperatures and the risk of flooding. The rise in urban temperatures is triggered by hard surfaces, such as paving and concrete, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it at night, resulting in ‘the heat island effect’ which not only makes it difficult to sleep but also results in poorer air quality – gardens are able to regulate temperatures much more easily. And, whilst turf, soil and plants can all absorb rainwater, paving does not and can cause up to a 50% run off increase into street drains, which often cannot handle this volume of water, resulting in floods.

How you can help in Greening Grey Britain

Many people pave over their gardens simply for practical reasons without realising that there are plenty of options that allow a parking space as well as room for plants, shrubs and turf. Here’s a few simple things you can do to join the campaign to get Britain’s green spaces back:

– Choose space saving plants

Climbers and wall shrubs are the perfect solution to add some greenery to small spaces, and Ivy screens and Pleached trees can provide both ornamental and environmental value, when the need to create a parking space may mean compromising your garden.

– Garden for wildlife

In short, the more plants you have, the more value your garden will hold for wildlife. However, it’s understandable that often space is limited in front gardens, which is why planting a hedge is a great way to encourage wildlife without taking up too much room. Wildlife friendly hedges can provide food and shelter for a variety of different species, including birds, insects and hedgehogs.

– Choose permeable paving

This type of paving, as seen in the Spiralling into Control show garden, reduces the risk of flooding as the permeable materials absorb rainfall, reducing the impact of run off.

By making these small changes to your front garden and incorporating the objectives of the Greening Grey Britain campaign into any plans you have to alter your front garden, we can work together to make sure we don’t lose the green Britain we all love.

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