Start a new thread

1 to 20 of 39 replies

When we moved into our house 12 years ago, the first thing we did was have the reinforced concrete carpark removed from where the front garden should have been. Part of this was led by safety worries for our then toddlers as, without a garden fence, nothing lay between the front door and the open road. It has since been through several guises, and is now dominated by a variegated acer, and a virginia creeper over the fence and gate-arch. Much nicer to look out onto than the bonnet of a car.
It is good to see this article, although much damage has already and continues to occur, which since October 2008 is actually illegal. If you are planning new surfacing or paving over 5m2 in your front garden, which will not be permeable, you require planning permission and this will be only be approved if the new work is carried out subject to SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage System) guidelines. Quite why this law, which has been taken and enforced by many other countries due to the fact that it makes such good sense, is still relatively unknown and certainly often ignored and unenforced in the UK where urban flooding has huge and frequent economic consequences is baffling.
The front gardens in my terraced area are tiny 11' x 6' ish and don't lend themselves to a lawn. Nevertheless many people have done little wonders with them making it a pleasure to wander around the neighbourhood and view. Many (like mine) are low maintenance with gravel and grasses, others may just be a home-made mosaic with a small feature tree in the middle. The only ones that make my heart sink are where someone has paved over to park their motorbike on it!
Gravel is ok for your home but not suitable for driveways/parking/public areas to public buildings such as garden centres, hotels etc etc. Gravel is very difficult if not impossible to traverse using a pushchair or wheelchair. The reinforced grass mentioned in this blog is very good and can carry quite heavy vehicles. Block paviors also allow water to drain easily....
I see a win-win situation which is block brick paving with bigger than average spaces between bricks and plants such as creeping thyme planted in the gaps.


Here in our bit of northwest London, all the front gardens were cemented over, which suggests it might have been part of the original building specifications. Bit by bit, though, people have been removing slabs to plant shrubs and flowers. I had the whole lot lifted in our front garden last summer, and found the remains of an earlier concreted area and lots of century-old builders’ rubble beneath. Since then, the new garden has exploded into life. As well as the wider benefits mentioned in the piece, there’s the small thrill of seeing hoverflies, earthworms and magpies doing their thing in what previously had been a grim concrete zone between front wall and front door. And, of course, the local cats greatly appreciate the new facilities.
today in my garden ,i saw on and of for about 2hrs the most beautiful butterfly,the wings were cream/white and the tips of the wings were bright bright orange,could anyone tell me what its name is and if they are rare etc... thankyou if you reply as i know its got nothing to do with slabs.
Instead of paving over a garden, one could create two pathways with pavers the width of the car's tires and plant thyme and other groundcovers between the tire paths.
We were supposed to be landscaping our garden but apart from the fact that it turned out to be an extremely expensive proposition, when we had that very hot summer a couple of years ago, we realised we would have no shade. So we held back. Then I became alarmed about the scarcity of birds, bees and butterflies and decided to go for a "wild garden". In particular, I let a patch of nettles grow. We have been rewarded with lots of ladybirds and more butterflies. Can anyone tell me the best time of year to cut nettles back to avoid destroying butterfly eggs or larvae ? Froginhood
Anonymous/Froginhood - cut your nettles down in June to encourage new growth for the many beautiful butterflies whose caterpillars feed on them, including the small tortoise shell, red admiral, peacock, painted lady and comma. But remember to leave the cut nettle stems for the caterpillars already feeding on them. Your nettles should be in full sun to encourage butterflies to lay on them. They do not like to lay their eggs in shade.
As Jay Flattery comments above there are supposedly legal constraints on paving front gardens, but these are heavily ignored and the fact is that the upholding of planning regulations is a postcode lottery. Whilst amateur and professional gardeners can readily provide aesthetic solutions this does little to inform the populace at large as to the harmful consequences. One additional factor not mentioned in the blog is the carbon storage provided by soil itself, 2nd only to the oceans. Modern development in the UK has continued to ignore this fact for too long and the UK has seen large scale erosion and the concreting over of soils to an extent that we have created huge sterile areas that require considerable new materials if to be converted back to a productive soil and thus subsequently leads to another problem in the UK which is an overuse of nitrogen in urban - peri urban areas. As the rest of the world progress with sustainable land management, the UK continue to ignore their greatest asset, which helped to provide the landscape of which we are all so proud of living in. Is it not the time to forward horticulture as THE sustainable front line and not just a 'hobby' industry.
happymarion,i just need to ask you,are you a secret gardenersworld gardener,as you know loads of stuff, are you a professional gardener? as you even know about nettles and butterflies not liking to lay eggs in shade,you know sooooooooo much. im very very impressed.. also do you show your garden ????? [i reckon you do...]
Does anybody know the make of spade Monty uses in his current series of Gardeners World?
sarah's pondlife. Thank you for such flattery but I have reached the age when I realise the more knowledge you acquire the more you ignorant you become. There is always plenty to learn in gardening and always joy in finding new things. I was not a professional gardener but a research chemist which means I learned reesearch and team skills aplenty, all uesful in making gardening friends like you. I also have seven children and seven grandchildren and have looked after many schoolchildren and grandchildren and been a Brown Owl in the Guides so I am experienced in wildlife safaris. Visiting gardens, especially Botanic gardens, all over the world has given me an enthusiasm and experteese with plants and attending workshops and dayschools and classes like the RHS Diploma classes over thirty years ago and more recently becoming a Guide at the Bristol Botanic Garden where I have been a volunteer gardener for some years. Yesterday, for instance, we had a fascinating lecture on the design and planting in the Chinese Herbal Garden by the teacher of students of herbal medecine. Next Wednesday one of the clubs I give powerpoint lectures on gardening to in the winter is visiting my garden. It is divided into many rooms like the scree for my alpines, a bamboo grove forshade, a fernery with foxgloves about to flower, a Persian runner now awash with aquilegia, wallflowers and Sweet William, a woodland walk full of epimediums, lily of the valley and bluebells, azaleas and rhododendrons. I have two large veg. gardens already burgeoning with early veg.a butterfly garden and a spinney for the resident fox. Lots of fruit trees and fruit bushes and strawberries and at the moment blossom to make you gasp from the philadelphus,tamarisk, tree peonies, lilac, also artistic plantings like orange poppies next to purple alliums, multi-coloured anemones next to black aoniums, dark purple bearded iris next to fluffy lady's mantle, Alchemilla mollis. In short a gardener's heaven,hence my email name.


my god happymarion you must have a huge huge garden or should i say estate. 7 children my did you find time to garden..[hahaha]. in my area there is nowhere to learn about gardening other than books and knowledge from my dad [old ways know best....] plus just making mistakes and learning from them,i love wildlife and would love to be more involved in knowing more. i to had a fox in my garden for 7 yrs he lived with us,but sadly he died, of all days it was christmas day i found him in the shed...'very sad' he became a big part of my family even our dog wasnt bothered by him.
I live in East Ayrshire just outside Kilmarnock.As far as I know we don't have legislation to control paving of property. In 1998 a new neighbour moved in and over the years covered the whole property with slabs,monoblocks and tarmacadam.This is counsel owned.I own my property.This means that every time it rains I get flooded. The counsel say they are allowed run off,and if I want to get rid of the water I can either put drainage in or run it through to my neighbours.My garden is entered each year for the competion run by the council.
i have been given a lovely peony,could you tell me how deep i should plant it as i keep being given differant methods ,im sure its not to deep to secure flowering [about half inch deep ].its not a tree peony if that helps.thank-you.
Thanks for all your comments. Details of the legal requirements re paving over of gardens are in the link above ‘risk of flooding’. Jay Flattery – interesting that the law is so rarely enforced in the UK. The flat I live in is in a purpose-built block, which includes purpose-built paved ‘gardens’, it’s only eight years old so we assume the council was happy for it to go ahead. My friends down the road live next door to a council house, the back garden of which is entirely paved over, and another local council house garden has also recently been lost under paving slabs. Sadly, it seems my local council is very pro paving over gardens, and whether permeable or not, it’s still a tragedy for wildlife, carbon emissions and the look of the area. Gwen Turner – thanks for the info re soil and nitrogen. With the use of leaf blowers, peat, pesticides and herbicides – despite trends for organic/natural gardening in recent years – I can’t see that we can promote horticulture as the sustainable front line for now. Perhaps in the future, I really hope so.
I am a street mason and pavor by trade . And i have been flaging front gardens and back gardens for over thirty years. And thats all over the liverpool area. and i have never been asked to have permission to lay the flags in front or back gardens.