Rain runs off impermeable surfaces despite regulations
Sealed and concreted bricks and pavers, concrete and resin-bonded surfaces are a popular choice for many front gardens, especially for parking.
They are impermeable, which is part of the attraction. There are no gaps for weeds to grow so they offer a neat and stylish look and need virtually no maintenance. They provide a good parking surface for all the household’s cars – especially desirable if they all need charging overnight. And, despite being impermeable, they are completely within the current (2008) regulations as long as they incorporate a way of stopping rain running off onto the pavement.
The myth of “permeable paving”
In March 2023, the head of Ofwat suggested that water companies could charge customers less if they have “permeable driveways”. What he probably meant was parking surfaces that let rain soak in, rather than running off into the road to add to pressure on drains, higher flood risk and sewage overspills.
But do they work?
Eco parking an electric car in Acton
When Juliet and Neal got an electric car they were loath to turn their front garden into hardstanding, but needed a place to charge the vehicle.
Determined to find an eco-friendly option, the couple created a permeable driveway and a design that can be widely adopted.
Front garden parking encourages massive rise in households with multiple cars
The 2021 Census shows a massive increase over the past 40 years in households with three or more cars or vans in outer London boroughs.
This is largely down to people using their entire front garden for parking.
National Infrastructure Commission recognises that paved-over front gardens increase flood risk!
The largely-ignored epidemic of front gardens being lost to hard surfacing seems, at last, to have been recognised by national bodies.
First, in November 2022 the influential National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published “Reducing the risk of surface water flooding” which specifically mentions that paved-over front gardens increase flood risk.
And then, early in 2023, the Government said it will consult on whether to making sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) mandatory for new development from 2024.
Depaving in action
Fiona has removed part of the extensive brick paving in her front garden to make it better for wildlife and the local environment.
Heatwave Health Alert: don’t re-pave, de-pave!
Paved-over front gardens make houses even hotter in heatwaves. That’s because the surface absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night, and there are no plants to provide shade and cooling (via evapotranspiration).
It’s not just flooding!
It’s great to see the London Fire Brigade highlighting how paved front garden contribute to flooding, at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. But paving causes lots of other problems as well and makes the impacts of climate change worse.
We need hedges! But what sort?
Hedges make urban life better in many ways. But many are being torn out as front gardens are lost to parking. Christine Eborall finds out why hedges should not be overlooked and points to the right type of hedge for you.
Transformation in Twickenham
Lockdown walks made Nancy realise how many of the front gardens in her Twickenham neighbourhood were dreary and depressing. So she decided to do something about hers.
Bees need front gardens!
Bees, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps and beetles – the many pollinating insects – are vital for our gardens to grow.
They also more than help to produce food worldwide. But urbanisation and intensive farming are causing dramatic declines in pollinator numbers.
The good news is that our humble gardens, including front gardens, are a real help in counteracting this by being brilliant feeding stations for bees and other pollinating insects.
Front Gardens on the Frontline
Will good government policies for cleaner cars have unintended consequences and lead to the loss of more front gardens? Christine Eborall of the Ealing Front Gardens Project explores.
Britain’s Vanishing Front Gardens: Are We Letting the Most Local Of All Green Spaces Disappear?
When people talk about how green their area is, they often mention parks and green spaces but not domestic front gardens, even though these can make up more of an area’s green space than parks.
Christine Eborall and Paul de Zylva explore the consequences of Britain’s disappearing front gardens and offer some creative ways to keep them and their multi-purpose role intact.
Save unloved gardens with garden-sharing
Gardening boosts our health and well-being but what if you can’t garden or don’t have one? Lend and Tend are here to help.
A New Threat - Electric Vehicles
We think electric vehicles will cause even more front gardens to disappear.