Front gardens

by James Alexander-Sinclair

Did you see my balding friend Joe Swift on television the other night? He was talking about front gardens.

Did you see my balding friend Joe Swift on television the other night? He was talking about front gardens and how important it is that we shouldn't turn them all into parking spaces. It was part of a new television series called Great British Garden Revival.

This was a good thing on a couple of levels: first, because any new garden television is a good thing (and a decent programme - well made, on an interesting topic - is even better). Second, because Joe's always a good watch and it's good to keep him occupied otherwise he plays too much golf and becomes very boring. Third, and most, importantly he was making an important point.

The world needs good front gardens not just because they make our streets look much better, but also because they're important buffers between us and such unpleasant things as floods and pollution. Now, obviously, a front garden isn't going to be enough to combat serious flooding - such as that which happened the other week when the tides were so high - but it can help. The simple theory is that if you concrete the whole thing, then the water all runs into one place: the street drains, which can only take so much before they back up and cause chaos.

However, if you plant things, leave some of the grass and keep everything as open as possible, then the water seeps away across the whole area and quite a lot of it is sucked up by lawns, shrubs and plants. Even gravel is good as it allows water to drain away more freely.

It's a simple message, really: look after our front gardens and we all benefit.

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Talkback: Front gardens
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oldchippy 17/12/2013 at 19:20

if you ever visit any new housing developments you will find the non existence of any front garden,and parking must be provided off road,very soon front gardens will be a thing of the past.

Garden Maniac 17/12/2013 at 20:49

We have redeveloped our front block paved driveway from a 3/4 car parking space into a bordered green gem - no grass but plenty of growing spaces which attract all sorts of insects and bees and are far more successful than the back garden in terms of growing species of seasonal plant. We have a magnolia 'limelight' as the star, several tea roses and seasonal planting which thrives both horizontally and vertically. It has taken gardening to a whole new dimension and has encouraged favourable comments from the neighbours too. As an added bonus, we have also incorporated several square metre gardening raised beds into our design (as per David Hurrion's talk at GW live this year and the magazine articles) and we look forward to harvesting (and photographing) the results!

patty3 18/12/2013 at 09:32

 Hi gm

well done' that sounds great for wildlife and passers by to enjoy.


Busy-Lizzie 18/12/2013 at 10:11

This concreting and paving of front gardens is causing flood damage too, nowhere for the rain to drain to and the getter drains overflow. I'm sure it would help if people would leave at least some earth or green in their front gardens instead of filling the whole thing. Would look better too.

Woodgreen wonderboy 18/12/2013 at 21:28

I understand that there are planning regs that force developers to restrict the number of parking spaces per dwelling… 1.5 each I think. Since most households have around i car per adult you can see the source of the problem. Yet another brainless politically response to global warming. No wonder our front gardens are disappearing.

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