The tragic loss of gardens

I've recently moved out of London and into a small, leafy and quiet Home Counties town. The main road was bypassed a few years ago, leaving just two pubs, a petrol station and one or two 'one-stop' shops. It is affluent and staunchly middle-class. Housing is mainly detached or semi-detached (older stock from the 20s and 30s with tasteful 'village-style' developments in more recent years), with driveways and large front gardens. Or at least there were.

Each morning I go for a 30-40 min walk before sitting at my kitchen table all day, feigning interest in Teams calls. What I have noticed is the alarming habit of completely paving or gravelling the front garden for parking; it appears to be a competitive sport. Instead of parking the requisite SUV and sports car serially on the driveway in front of a garage built for an Austin 7, cars can now sweep majestically to the porte-cochere that has been pretentiously built on the front of their 1960s dormer-bungalow.

Nearby I spotted a large and lovely 1920s mock-Tudor house with a sunken garden at the front, with a fountain, mature trees, and a beautiful, tall stained-glass window on the front of the house that must light the staircase. Last week the trees were ripped out (surely there would have been a TPO in place?) and the sunken garden filled in with rubble and then the whole front is in the process of being paved over. The rather grand gate-posts have been demolished and replaced with concrete-capped brick pillars, atopped with concrete lions.

New double glazing has been installed and the stained glass window is now gone. The back garden - visible from the adjacent snicket - has had a similar treatment. A leaded gazebo has been removed, a home office built and the remaining area covered in astro-turf. All trees have been yanked out, including a beautiful apple tree that overhung the snicket. The result is a crime against decency.

Why? Firstly all these properties had a driveway sufficient to park two, perhaps three cars. The roads are quiet and wide, so street parking isn't a problem. Secondly, the loss of grass and gardens is galling and can contribute to urban flooding due to faster run-off. Thirdly, it looks sh!t. In a year or two's time the owners will be fighting the never-ending battle of weeds emerging through the geotex or up between the paving. The houses now look bland without the colour, contrast and texture of a garden.

One of the first things I would do after deployments to the ME and AFG was to run barefoot across the grass in the garden (watching out for dog poo). The effect on AstroTurf is altogether different and rather unpleasant..
 
DFLs. Loadsa money, no taste.
 
Down From Londoner or Damn F**king Londoners depending on whether you have moved yourself or live there.
 
We've let parts of our garden rewild and it's become a haven for bees

But then I like to sit out in front of my porch and watch the sunset over mountains, and coastline, so never a city dweller at heart

But for those in more urban areas, there is a practical aspect to this, less greenery means less places for floodwater to go making their streets more likely to be flooded
 

Joker62

ADC
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Smeggers

ADC
Moderator
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Excellent thread old boy. I have often decried the loss of the garden and feel it is having an impact on the wildlife of our countryside. My wife and I have a very long front garden with a river to the right of us and a bat roost close by. Our garden is styled in the old cottage garden style with a dedicated area set aside for wild flowers and wildlife. We are frequently visited by around 40 different species of birds, have had weasels and hedgehogs in the garden and have built a hedgehog house at the bottom of the garden.
We both enjoy our time spent in the garden or just sitting watching the wildlife. A number of our neighbours have asked us what our secret is and our reply is we work at the garden!
 
Excellent thread old boy. I have often decried the loss of the garden and feel it is having an impact on the wildlife of our countryside. My wife and I have a very long front garden with a river to the right of us and a bat roost close by. Our garden is styled in the old cottage garden style with a dedicated area set aside for wild flowers and wildlife. We are frequently visited by around 40 different species of birds, have had weasels and hedgehogs in the garden and have built a hedgehog house at the bottom of the garden.
We both enjoy our time spent in the garden or just sitting watching the wildlife. A number of our neighbours have asked us what our secret is and our reply is we work at the garden!
So many of these properties with large gardens are getting the same treatment. Wildlife certainly could not thrive in the urban environment on AstroTurf and paving. No fruit trees for wild birds and scrumping. Indeed, no trees for kids to climb and experience their first trip to A&E.

My garden is not huge, but growing in containers are a wide range of herbs, tomatoes, salad greens,. From no 3 bedroom (soon to be my study) I can see the birds enjoying the insects those plants attract. I'm no bird spotter but I enjoy watching their antics.
 
I've recently moved out of London and into a small, leafy and quiet Home Counties town. The main road was bypassed a few years ago, leaving just two pubs, a petrol station and one or two 'one-stop' shops. It is affluent and staunchly middle-class. Housing is mainly detached or semi-detached (older stock from the 20s and 30s with tasteful 'village-style' developments in more recent years), with driveways and large front gardens. Or at least there were.

Each morning I go for a 30-40 min walk before sitting at my kitchen table all day, feigning interest in Teams calls. What I have noticed is the alarming habit of completely paving or gravelling the front garden for parking; it appears to be a competitive sport. Instead of parking the requisite SUV and sports car serially on the driveway in front of a garage built for an Austin 7, cars can now sweep majestically to the porte-cochere that has been pretentiously built on the front of their 1960s dormer-bungalow.

Nearby I spotted a large and lovely 1920s mock-Tudor house with a sunken garden at the front, with a fountain, mature trees, and a beautiful, tall stained-glass window on the front of the house that must light the staircase. Last week the trees were ripped out (surely there would have been a TPO in place?) and the sunken garden filled in with rubble and then the whole front is in the process of being paved over. The rather grand gate-posts have been demolished and replaced with concrete-capped brick pillars, atopped with concrete lions.

New double glazing has been installed and the stained glass window is now gone. The back garden - visible from the adjacent snicket - has had a similar treatment. A leaded gazebo has been removed, a home office built and the remaining area covered in astro-turf. All trees have been yanked out, including a beautiful apple tree that overhung the snicket. The result is a crime against decency.

Why? Firstly all these properties had a driveway sufficient to park two, perhaps three cars. The roads are quiet and wide, so street parking isn't a problem. Secondly, the loss of grass and gardens is galling and can contribute to urban flooding due to faster run-off. Thirdly, it looks sh!t. In a year or two's time the owners will be fighting the never-ending battle of weeds emerging through the geotex or up between the paving. The houses now look bland without the colour, contrast and texture of a garden.

One of the first things I would do after deployments to the ME and AFG was to run barefoot across the grass in the garden (watching out for dog poo). The effect on AstroTurf is altogether different and rather unpleasant..
It probably isn‘t a home office - it is a bed in a shed.

That house is now a HMO. It needs the front paving over so that the 5 for so family units living in it (paying £600 a month for the privilege - with 6 single blokes in the shed at £300 a month) can all park their cars on it.

It is now probably owned by a gentleman (from personal experience) with a name that originates in India.

The run off is not the worst of it. Instead of the two adults and 2.4 children living there there are now 15 adults and probably about 10 children of various ages.
This puts additional strain on utilities (power, water supply, SEWAGE - caps intended), communications (roads, rail, etc) and local facilities (Schools, medical, etc).
Up until recently as a fair few would be EU citizens (despite names that hail from further afield) they would have been entitled to bring over various cousins and assorted elderly relations.

I used to see this every day in my previous job - and I got very f***ing tired of it.
 
I live in an apartment - I am single, no kids and live a rather transient lifestyle so the additional security it affords (on the 6th floor) is better than a normal house.
Even so on both of my balconies there are numerous herbs and flowers in planters - insects abound as a result.

I feel your pain.
 
It probably isn‘t a home office - it is a bed in a shed.

That house is now a HMO. It needs the front paving over so that the 5 for so family units living in it (paying £600 a month for the privilege - with 6 single blokes in the shed at £300 a month) can all park their cars on it.

It is now probably owned by a gentleman (from personal experience) with a name that originates in India.

The run off is not the worst of it. Instead of the two adults and 2.4 children living there there are now 15 adults and probably about 10 children of various ages.
This puts additional strain on utilities (power, water supply, SEWERAGE - caps intended), communications (roads, rail, etc) and local facilities (Schools, medical, etc).
Up until recently as a fair few would be EU citizens (despite names that hail from further afield) they would have been entitled to bring over various cousins and assorted elderly relations.

I used to see this every day in my previous job - and I got very f***ing tired of it.
That though did cross my mind, but other properties nearby that have had similar treatment, typically there are two late model cars out the front and that's it. With the property that I describe, time will tell. Certainly I saw what you describe regularly in London; interesting what you can see in back gardens from the train and above-ground on the tube.

ETA: I think you mean SEWERAGE
 
My area has seen a recent surge in new build properties. As cars have been getting bigger, so have new build garages been getting smaller. At the same time, the gap between properties is best measured with a feeler gauge, so property frontages are smaller as well.
The garages in these properties are so small that I haven't seen a single one being used to park a car. Some have already been converted into another room, but most seem to be used for storage.
So, with no effective garage and a small frontage, it isn't much of a surprise that a lot of them have converted what small front garden they had into a parking area.
 

QRK2

LE
I'd agree that the paving of the front gardens that you describe is at least partially competitive and a case of keeping up with the Patels next door. We have near neighbour whose grandparents emigrated from what is now Pakistan, he's solicitor an local Conservative Councillor so all in all a bit of a pillar of the community but, when he moved in, in addition to paving the front garden, he had the low stone wall ripped out and replaced by a plain brick thing surmounted by railings and with 2m remote high control gates.

Open front gardens are quite a British construct, although they are seen in parts of Europe. They are seen as quite odd and rather insecure in much of the world.
 
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My area has seen a recent surge in new build properties. As cars have been getting bigger, so have new build garages been getting smaller. At the same time, the gap between properties is best measured with a feeler gauge, so property frontages are smaller as well.
The garages in these properties are so small that I haven't seen a single one being used to park a car. Some have already been converted into another room, but most seem to be used for storage.
So, with no effective garage and a small frontage, it isn't much of a surprise that a lot of them have converted what small front garden they had into a parking area.
The difference around here is that these properties had long driveways that could accommodate several large cars, without the need for additional paving. I have a decent-sized garage - used for storage - and gated parking for two cars. But it would never cross my mind to rip up the front garden and pave it. But around here people are!
 

Hohenidoom

Old-Salt
I often lament it also. The places affected worst by it are (in my opinion) the terraces that are ubiquitous around my way. Even small front gardens can greatly lift an area but the proliferation of parking spaces out front just makes them into ugly car parks.

I get parking is needed - but on the bigger houses why on earth would you want the entire front to be paved? The lack of trees and green space on new developments do them no favours either - if you can't have a garden, at least plant a chestnut or three to break up the tedium of yellow brick and hire cars.

That said, I often curse the twat who destroyed our wrap-around garden in the 1920s so his garage wasn't too far a walk from the house. 50 feet of driveway for one car! It does, however, mean that we can do a fair impression of a traffic jam whenever we like.
 
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philc

LE
I have just replaced the lawn in the front with pebbles, why because I had to lift the lawn mower up to shoulder height to get it back in to the shed at the back due to living on a slop. We now have 8 lavenders with loads of bees and butterflies and a very pleasant smell. Numerous other grasses are on the way as well.

The back has been remodelled as well, old pines that were blocking light removed and wild flowers and flowers that attract wildlife introduced. We are looking at a good first years crop of cooking apples, have you seen the price of a cooking apple and plan for another apple tree next year, eating this time. We have an abundance of rhubarb and a healthy crop of beetroot is on its way. Broadbeans harvested and winter cabbage in.

I am planning a bug hotel next.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Most modern housing comes without any meaningful garden, no garage and access to a 'community leisure space'. It's a tragedy - I grew up in leafy North London suburbia and it was just that - leafy as ****. I cannot understand what drives people to remove greenery in favour of tarmac or paving slabs.

Philistines.

With you on the birds and wildlife - loads of different birds (and their beautiful predators like Sparrowhawks and Peregrines, hedgehogs etc even though the garden isn't very big it's what you do with it although living in the country helps.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
I'd agree that the paving of the front gardens that you describe is at least partially competitive and a case of keeping up with the Patels next door. We have near neighbour whose grandparents emigrated from what is now Pakistan, he's solicitor an local Conservative Councillor so all in all a bit of a pillar of the community but, when he moved in, in addition to paving the front garden, he had the low stone wall ripped out and replaced by a plain brick thing surmounted by railings and with 2m remote high control gates.

Open front gardens are quite a British construct, although they are seen in parts of Europe. They are seen as quite odd and rather insecure in much of the world.
Like this you mean?

1628764831751.png
 
I have just replaced the lawn in the front with pebbles, why because I had to lift the lawn mower up to shoulder height to get it back in to the shed at the back due to living on a slop. We now have 8 lavenders with loads of bees and butterflies and a very pleasant smell. Numerous other grasses are on the way as well.

The back has been remodelled as well, old pines that were blocking light removed and wild flowers and flowers that attract wildlife introduced. We are looking at a good first years crop of cooking apples, have you seen the price of a cooking apple and plan for another apple tree next year, eating this time. We have an abundance of rhubarb and a healthy crop of beetroot is on its way. Broadbeans harvested and winter cabbage in.

I am planning a bug hotel next.
I hope you mean you live on a slope...
 
I've recently moved out of London and into a small, leafy and quiet Home Counties town. The main road was bypassed a few years ago, leaving just two pubs, a petrol station and one or two 'one-stop' shops. It is affluent and staunchly middle-class. Housing is mainly detached or semi-detached (older stock from the 20s and 30s with tasteful 'village-style' developments in more recent years), with driveways and large front gardens. Or at least there were.

Each morning I go for a 30-40 min walk before sitting at my kitchen table all day, feigning interest in Teams calls. What I have noticed is the alarming habit of completely paving or gravelling the front garden for parking; it appears to be a competitive sport. Instead of parking the requisite SUV and sports car serially on the driveway in front of a garage built for an Austin 7, cars can now sweep majestically to the porte-cochere that has been pretentiously built on the front of their 1960s dormer-bungalow.

Nearby I spotted a large and lovely 1920s mock-Tudor house with a sunken garden at the front, with a fountain, mature trees, and a beautiful, tall stained-glass window on the front of the house that must light the staircase. Last week the trees were ripped out (surely there would have been a TPO in place?) and the sunken garden filled in with rubble and then the whole front is in the process of being paved over. The rather grand gate-posts have been demolished and replaced with concrete-capped brick pillars, atopped with concrete lions.

New double glazing has been installed and the stained glass window is now gone. The back garden - visible from the adjacent snicket - has had a similar treatment. A leaded gazebo has been removed, a home office built and the remaining area covered in astro-turf. All trees have been yanked out, including a beautiful apple tree that overhung the snicket. The result is a crime against decency.

Why? Firstly all these properties had a driveway sufficient to park two, perhaps three cars. The roads are quiet and wide, so street parking isn't a problem. Secondly, the loss of grass and gardens is galling and can contribute to urban flooding due to faster run-off. Thirdly, it looks sh!t. In a year or two's time the owners will be fighting the never-ending battle of weeds emerging through the geotex or up between the paving. The houses now look bland without the colour, contrast and texture of a garden.

One of the first things I would do after deployments to the ME and AFG was to run barefoot across the grass in the garden (watching out for dog poo). The effect on AstroTurf is altogether different and rather unpleasant..
I call this treatment 'footballers wives'. I live in a rural village, more or less retirement or commuter now. You can tell the commuter homes, front garden given the treatment you mention and often 5 cars parked.
 

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