An English Block Paved Garden

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.)

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Danger in the Suburbs

I am very relieved to be able to show you these lovely photos of a hazardous area near the Oblique mansion which has recently been made safe for young and old.

These areas border a historic pathway which is now a footpath.

There are still fungi, stag beetles, butterflies, owls and other wildlife in the area, but over years it has been gradually tidied and urbanised. We have protested more than once, but to little effect.

The semi-wild edging to the footpath has very recently once again been strimmed or cut right back. When I say cut right back, I mean hacked, as you can see.

I did my little bit. I wrote to the Borough Council. It appears I had no idea about the hazards involved in suburban England. The hacking was apparently done because- gasp- an elderly resident had allegedly slipped and fallen into the scrub, and parents walking their children to school had asked for it to be cut back.

As you can imagine, I was relieved that our council had dealt with this danger in the suburbs. In fact, I have decided to help them out and go out weekly with my shears to keep the dangerous shrub at bay. In fact…. no I haven’t. I’m lying. I think this explanation is hard to understand and unjustified.

I can understand why it might be sensible to trim the edges of the wild area and make sure it doesn’t cause a hazard by encroaching on the tarmac area; but the complete obliteration of it seems pointless. If the scrub along here was such a danger, why hasn’t the scrub all over the borough been cut back and all the paths completely paved? We walk in the area daily and there are very many footpaths and pavements where vegetation is far closer to the tarmac areas. Almost all gardens have growth bordering the pavement, some of it spikey. Carried to its logical conclusion, there would be no vegetation at all next to pavements and footpaths.

Surely there can be some better, more sympathetic way of managing it? We are by no means experts, but some healthy neglect (while making sure the vegetation does not handicap pedestrians) would seem suitable.

I’ve written again, making these points. I’ve written to the local wildlife trust. I’ve even written this blog. I haven’t got much optimism about it.

Am I being hopelessly idealistic? Is this relentless obliteration of wild or semi-wild areas inevitable? What else can I do?

Answers, please.

(I have no idea why the font size suddenly changes in this post. One of life’s mysteries.)