Green your own bit of grey Britain: 5 top tips
At this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the RHS feature garden was all about promoting the theme of ‘Greening Grey Britain’. The garden’s designer, Ann-Marie Powell, was tasked with creating a garden to be part of the nation-wide call to action. Her garden is called ‘RHS Greening Grey Britain Garden for Health, Happiness, and Horticulture. The scheme is focusing on front gardens.
- The problem with paving and how does this affect wildlife? If you are looking for one word to sum up what the issue of paving is really about, that word would be ‘flooding’. Gardens soak up the majority of the rain that falls. It is estimated that paving, concrete, and tarmac increase the surface run-off by 50%! While we are a nation of wildlife lovers, we are reducing the places for them to live every year. If you can plant bigger shrubs or trees, these will give some of the larger wildlife somewhere to feed and live.
- But I really want to pave. If you need to have some sort of hard standing to park your park on, there are some better options around:
- Brick pavers: If you like the traditional look of a brick drive then there is the option of brick pavers. The bricks look like traditional bricks, but their shape means that when laid they interlock and allow the rain to be soaked away through the gaps. If you are considering installing this then do make sure that compacted aggregate is being used underneath to allow for maximum drainage.
- Gravel: If you are looking for a cheaper option then gravel could be for you. It is available to buy by the sack or tonne and there are environmental options available such as ceramic by-products.
- Matrix pavers: the design can look a little futuristic too! The cells are recycled plastic and hexagonally shaped. Lay them properly and they are a really efficient way of draining the water away.
- Grass reinforcement: this is basically any product that is put over grass to stop it from turning into a mud puddle! The reinforcement can be made of plastic or metal and the grid is laid over your grass meaning that you can park and the grass can grow.
- Yes, you can have it all! Ever thought of planting under your car? You did read the correctly – plant under your car. Correct plant choice is essential here. The plants you choose need to be low-growing so that you don’t knock them every time you park, but also tough enough that the occasional time you drive over them you won’t kill them!
- Containers and screening. Pots are possibly the easiest way to add some life and colour to your front garden, and they might even make you smile when you come home too. Just remember with your plant choices come watering responsibilities. In the summer, a good and classic choice for the forgetful waterer would be bedding geraniums. If you can work some privacy into your front garden, it might even become somewhere that you would like to sit. The Montana Clematis would be an excellent choice here as it is evergreen and a very fast grower.
- Top plant choice suggestions:
- Wildlife: Berberis, Buddleia, Honeysuckle, Ivy, and Roses.
- Under your car: Thyme, Creeping Jenny, and Bugle.
- Containers: Busy Lizzies, Geraniums, Violas, and herbs.
- Screening: Clematis, Honeysuckle, and Ivy.
However much space you have, there is always a plant that will fit!