In The Garden With Jo: Keeping it ‘green’ in the garden

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

In The Garden With Jo: Keeping it ‘green’ in the garden

Grass block pavers

This week I got a lovely call from a gentleman who was frustrated and a little irate with his neighbours, who keep digging up their front gardens to replace them with paving.

His remedy to this was to keep planting hedges, trees, flowers and anything else that will fit in his own small plot, to counteract the lack of colour and planting in the other gardens around. He asked me what we can do to persuade people to tear up the paving and bring back planting.

‘Let me think about that’ I told him, not actually thinking that anything was possible - but I got off the phone and thought - I can make a difference. I can inform people of the benefit to them, physically and mentally, of having gardens and planting around them.

The answer is to show people how their gardens can look with even just a little planting.

There is something for everyone and you can have both planting and paving with a little clever design and use of plants.

Plant-covered boundaries and trees are of huge benefit. Hedges meet urban challenges and offer pollution protection by trapping pollution particles, helping you breathe more easily in your home and garden. They’re also great for wildlife, as we know, and depending on the height, can offer privacy too.

There are lots of smaller trees available which are ideal for front gardens and many of them offer multi-seasonal interest such as spring blossom and colourful autumnal leaves. Climbers are a great idea in front gardens, either over boundaries or house walls. They take up very little room at ground level yet provide colour, flowers, wildlife habitat and protection.

If you are in the position where you need to accommodate off-street parking in your garden, then there are still options you can use without it being detrimental to our environment. Replacing too much garden soil with paving can cause with huge problems with flooding, so we just need to think outside the box.

Grass block pavers, also known as turf block pavers or grow-through pavers, are an alternative to tarmac, concrete, and traditional pavers. They are made of concrete or recycled plastic with open cells that allow grass to grow through them. They’re a porous, eco-friendly option for driveways and parking areas.

Another option is to use gravel or lay two tracks into the lawn, positioned under the vehicle’s wheels. All these options look great, while still enabling planting in and around them.

All these options reduce stormwater runoff, which is one of the biggest sources of water pollution, and look great too with some clever design.

We need to encourage more planting and less paving in our towns and cities. Creating green districts encourages a better quality of life for theirinhabitants, improves biodiversity and the World Health Organisation estimates that of the 1,600 cities for which it has information, the air quality in most of them does not meet its standards.

Given these advantages, why haven’t green districts already become the norm?

The case for them is strong, but real life can get in the way. It takes people to help push these matters forward, so let's all help to create better environments for us all to live in.

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