Down our way another two gardens are being grubbed up for hard surfacing….
This is a modern trend. All over our green, middle-class, and, it must be said, tree-rich borough, there are gardens being paved over. The reasons are fairly obvious.
To start with, every household seems to have at least two cars. There are only two options. (Well, we’re not going to give them up, are we?) One is to leave them on the street if there isn’t enough room in the drive. The other is obviously to increase the paved area. A third option, to put one in the garage, is so often now not possible as modern cars are so big, and the 1970s/80s garages round here are too small. Besides which, we’ve got all those important things in the garage. Or it’s a home gym. Or it’s now converted into a spare room.
The second reason is that a lot of people just don’t like gardening. Once upon a time homeowners just accepted that they had a garden and they had to look after it. It was also a popular hobby. Now, perhaps with more affluence to afford it, back gardens are paved over as well as front gardens.
It’s probably obvious that I don’t approve of the trend. This is partly just personal aesthetic preference. I consider that just about any green space, however untidy, looks better than paving, especially some of the awful spaces I have seen recently. I do have more reasoned objections.
The first is the drainage issue. All over our country we have problems with ground water. I am sure that hard paved areas, however well they may be be drained in theory, are worse at dispersing heavy rainfall than grass and other plants. (Some areas I have seen recently make no attempt to drain water; they are simply tarmac. Isn’t there some legislation about this?) (There is. I just looked it up. It has to be permeable paving.)
Then there is the huge, insidious impact that paving over has on wildlife. Insects, birds, small mammals; all have their habitats reduced. Of course, there is also the loss of vegetation.
Oh dear, I don’t feel I’ve put my case particularly well here. Anyway, I don’t suppose that my little rant on my little blog (last post: 6 views) will make any difference. At least it goes a little way towards easing my conscience, although that won’t change the situation. “The decline of the British front garden” on the BBC website puts it better than I have. (According to the RHS, as quoted in the article, the number of paved gardens tripled from 2005 to 2015.)