RHS: Front gardens being paved over at alarming rate

The number of paved-over, plant-free front gardens in the UK has tripled in 10 years, from 1.5 million to 4.6 million, the Royal Horticultural Society says.

Paving. Image: HW
Paving. Image: HW
The RHS is launching the its ‘Greening Grey Britain’ report at the Chelsea Flower Show today as it calls for a reversal of the alarming trend.

In ten years there has been a 15 square mile increase in ‘grey’ thanks to paving of front gardens, while plant cover in front gardens has fallen by as much as 15 per cent. More than five million front gardens are now devoid of plants, and almost 12 million are nearly or completely paved over. Londoners are the worst offenders, with half of all front gardens now paved over.

The RHS believes it is vital to reverse this trend for the nation’s health, for wildlife, to mitigate against pollution and heat waves and to protect the UK’s homes from flooding. 

RHS director-general Sue Biggs said: "We need to urgently increase plants in urban environments, and better understand how to select and use ornamental plants, not reduce them, as this reports indicates we’re doing.  Whatever the pressures to pave, there is always room for plants.

"Gardens are good for our towns and cities2,3. This reduction of plants in front gardens and increase in grey is harmful for wildlife reducing their homes and food sources.  It is also damaging for the nation’s health linked to increasing pollution and increasing temperatures during heat waves and puts our homes at more risk from flooding."

The gardening charity is calling on people to pledge to green their own bit of grey and is sharing advice and ideas to green up front gardens at www.rhs.org.uk/ggb.

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