There’s a growing trend for tarmacking over front gardens. Positive News readers are bucking it, by doing the exact opposite
The curious British fashion for paving over front gardens got us thinking: surely there are people out there putting the trend in reverse?
So, we put a call out to the Positive News community to see if anyone had liberated a lawn or banished some block paving. Sure enough, plenty of you had – with the before and after shots to prove it (below).
It’s all heartening stuff given the statistics. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, three times as many front gardens are paved over now compared to a decade ago. It’s a disaster for biodiversity, of course, but it also increases the risk of flooding, and because tarmac absorbs heat, it makes neighbourhoods hotter. It’s also, frankly, rather ugly.
So, kudos to the good folk who’ve reclaimed their gardens from the tyranny of tarmac. Below are some of the best examples we were sent, with a few lines from respondents. Sorry we couldn’t publish them all.
Ellie Williams, Northamptonshire
“I was very pleased to see your article on the re-greening of front gardens,” says Williams. “In October 2021, I replaced a large amount of my block paving with wildflower mat turf, forming an important part of greening my home (pictured below). It only needs a trim once a year and different flowers appear at different times.”
Jen Anderson, Glasgow
Armed with cuttings from her mum’s garden, Jen Anderson transformed her outdoor areas into hotbeds of biodiversity.
“The front (pictured above) did have a bit of grass to start, but the back (pictured below) was just paving slabs,” says Anderson. “I kept some of them to form a path, but I [replaced the rest] with plants. It’s taken the slugs years to find us because previously there was nothing.”
It was all done on a small budget, too. “The only things we spent money on were the wood for the climbing frame (which we built ourselves) and a new fence,” she says. “The front garden is now full of plants for the butterflies and bees. All the plants came from the pots that lingered around our old flat, or cuttings from my mum’s garden.”
Alexander James Phillips, east London
After 20 minutes pickaxing his driveway (pictured below), Alexander James Phillips finally broke through to the earth.
“We made a border from some of the broken slabs, threw down two bags of compost and some seeds in May, and have been absolutely gobsmacked at what’s happened,” he says.
“Every time we look there are at least three bumble bees on [the flowers], sometimes more. It’s so satisfying. The school kids who walk past like it and the neighbours comment on it.”
Penny Philcox, Sheffield
Sheffield’s Penny Philcox gave us a blast from the past with her before shot, featuring a classic Mini (pictured below). But the real star of the show is her colourful, bee-friendly hedgerow that replaced the bland block paving that led up to her house. Great work.
Elle Shaw-Ainsley, Totnes
When Elle Shaw-Ainsley moved into her place in Totnes, Devon, the front garden (pictured below) was “nasty black tarmac”. “It was never comfortable sitting there, even though it gets the last of the sun,” she says. “So I had the tarmac removed and replaced with gravel which allows rain to go through, added hazel hurdles at the front to give a little shelter, shade, and privacy, and added pots and more plants in the borders.”
She adds: “Last year I started growing peas and beans and courgettes there too. Now it’s a lovely calm area to sit in the afternoon and evening, and I can say hello to neighbours passing by. I’m so glad I got rid of the tarmac.”
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