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Green your Garden

It’s estimated that there are over 360,000 gardens in the Hertfordshire which collectively make up a huge amount of land. Gardens can help the environment in lots of ways including reducing the urban heat island effect, reducing the risk of flooding and absorbing carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas). They also provide an important habitat for wildlife. Furthermore there are also strong links between green spaces and wellbeing.

Despite all the benefits research has shown that in the past 10 years there has been a significant reduction in green garden space due to increases in paving gardens for driveways and the appeal of a low maintenance outdoor space. A recent report from the Royal Horticultural Society revealed that “‘almost 1 in 3 front gardens in the UK today has no plants” (Greening Grey Britain, RHS).   

Whether you are a novice or a keen gardener, making a few small changes to your garden can make a big difference in helping the environment. Below you can find suggestions and links to further information on what you can do to become a greener gardener: 

For more suggestions visit the Garden pages or download our leaflet /uploads/GYG.pdf  


Living 'The Good Life'

Growing your own fruit and vegetables will help you save money, get some light exercise and reduce food miles. Food miles are a way of attempting to measure the environmental impact of food. Many of the foods we buy at the supermarket such as strawberries, tomatoes and potatoes have been transported hundreds of miles. Growing your own saves the environmental impact of transporting and packaging that particular food. It’s also a brilliant way for children to learn where their food comes from. If you’ve always liked the idea of growing your own fruit and vegetables, here are a few tips to help you do it in an eco-friendly way.

1. Try to garden organically. Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets that kill natural predators like hedgehogs and can also poison birds. Instead try: 

  • Organic controls such as beer traps to control slugs. Simply insert a glass jar or smooth plastic container in the soil and half fill it with beer. Always keep the rim raised 2-3cm above ground level to prevent other beneficial creatures such as ground beetles from toppling in too. 
  • Putting up an insect house to encourage natural predators such as ladybirds and lacewings which will help to control aphids. There are all sorts available to buy but why not consider making your own. 
  • Try companion planting to ward off pests. For example, if you grow leeks and carrots together, the smell of leeks deters carrot root fly and the smell of carrots also helps deter leek moth. Click here for more tips. 

2. Avoid artificial fertilisers. 
  • Make your own organic fertiliser – nitrogen fixing plants such as comfrey are a brilliant way to enrich your soil organically. Simply “chop & drop” the leaves onto the surface of the soil or mix the leaves with water, leave for a few days until the water has discoloured and there you have it- liquid fertiliser! 
  • Make your own compost. Or if you decided to buy it, be sure to purchase a peat-free variety. The extraction of peat for compost is unsustainable; it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and damages rare habitats and archaeology.

3. Reuse, reuse, reuse - Lots of unwanted household items can be reused in the garden. Here are a few ideas:    

  • Make weird and wonderful planters – an old car tyre, a butler’s sink or even old welly boots. Whatever you choose to use just remember to make holes in the bottom for drainage. 
  • Rather than buying pots try using old yoghurt pots to grow plants from seed. Toilet roll tubes can also be used to grow seedling and they can be planted directly into the ground. 
  • If birds are becoming a nuisance, try hanging up old CDs to scare them away. 
  • Unwanted bamboo canes cut to size and tied together in a bundle make a perfect nesting site for solitary bees and other insects. Click here for more information. 
  • If you’re feeling ambitious why not try constructing your own greenhouse out of old plastic bottles! 



It doesn't save to pave

Front gardens entirely laid to paving can increase the risk of flooding and increase local temperatures. It also reduces the amount of garden habitat for wildlife and can look unsightly. Research from the Royal Horticultural Society found that between 2005 and 2015, an additional 3 million gardens were paved over in the UK (Greening Grey Britain, RHS).  If you need off street parking and are thinking of paving your front garden, please first consider the following:

  • Avoid paving the entire frontage and plant up either side of the car space. 
  • To keep the amount of hard standing to an absolute minimum create just two wheel tracks with a hard surface (e.g. blocks or tarmac) and then fill in the surrounding area with gravel, or plant with grass 
  • Use materials that allow rainwater to be absorbed such as gravel or grass pavers. This will reduce surface run off and so help reduce the risk of flooding 
  • Remember that if the surface to be covered is more than five square metres planning permission will be required for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not provide for the water to run to a permeable area. 
  • If your garden is already paved or decked consider removing sections, backfilling with soil and reinstating plants. Alternatively add some greenery by filling your garden with pots and planters.   

“Whatever the pressure to pave, there is always room for plants” Sue Biggs, RHS Director General  

The RHS provides more more details on how you can convert your front garden for parking in an environmentally friendly way.


How green is your home? Explore our interactive house for money saving tips and suggestions.