Yorkshire Householders Urged to Pull up a Paving Slab and Help Green Grey Britain

Wednesday 15 March 2017

• See a demonstration 'front garden' complete with mock house front and Toyota AYGO car • Learn how you can have a beautiful front garden and park your car off road • Pledge to plant a tree, grow a hedge or plant a pot •Alarming statistics show the percentage of gardens completely paved over in the Yorkshire and Humber region increased by 19% over 10 years, from 5% in 2005 to 24% in 2015

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is appealing to Yorkshire householders to pull up a paving slab and help transform grey front gardens and driveways into usable green spaces.

Millions of people across the UK pave over their front gardens for a very practical reason: to park their cars. The down side of this ‘hard surface’ solution is localised flooding, missed opportunities to combat air pollution and a poor environment for birds, bees and other wildlife. In the Yorkshire and Humber region, the percentage of gardens completely (100%) paved over increased by 19% over 10 years, from 5% in 2005 to 24% in 2015*.

RHS Garden Harlow Carr - the most northerly RHS garden - is inviting visitors to pick up inspiration and ideas to transform their own front gardens by launching a demonstration 'front garden' - complete with a mock house front. At a modest 5.2 x 6.7 metres, the show garden is large enough to park a Toyota AYGO – a compact city car – which has kindly been donated by the Vantage Toyota Knaresborough dealership.

The show garden forms part of the Society’s ‘Greening Grey Britain’ campaign designed to encourage people to transform hard, grey areas into living, planted spaces that can accommodate both cars and plants. Paving has been kept to a minimum, using only 26% of the total area, sufficient to park the car. Gravel has been used instead to allow rainwater to trickle away slowly and enable plants to grow or self-seed. Instead of a fence or wall, a beech hedge forms the boundary of one side of the plot, helping to filter out pollution. On the other side, a brick wall provides a vertical surface for growing climbing plants that take up little room. Almost half of the plot is flower beds, with the corners planted up, and there are three trees with slender trunks that take the greenery up and over the car. Pots with seasonal planting have been used where there is no soil.

Paul Cook, RHS Garden Harlow Carr’s Curator, is promoting five simple ideas for people to try in their gardens which, collectively, could have a massive positive impact across the Yorkshire region:

1. Fill up the corners of your front garden: you usually can't park here so plant instead
2. Go up the wall: climbers and wall shrubs take up little space; they don't just look great, they'll insulate your home too, saving on heating bills
3. Hedge your bets: rather than walls or fences, grow a hedge to filter out particulate (dust) pollution to help you breath more easily. It will provide a home for wildlife too
4. Grow up: with a slender trunk, a tree can take your greenery up and over cars
5. No soil? Plant in containers: even 100% paved gardens can be made greener by using containers.

Paul explained: “The statistics on front gardens paint an alarming picture: one in three front gardens across Britain are completely paved over - that's five million spaces nationwide that leave no room for plants or wildlife and are a missed opportunity to help reduce localized flooding.

“We’re asking the people of Yorkshire to re-think their own ‘front of house’ and pledge to do their bit to help reverse the worrying trend to pave over front gardens. Our new demo garden shows how you can have a beautiful front garden and still park your car off road by making a few simple changes.

“The scientific evidence of the benefits of greener front gardens is clear: a mini nature reserve on your doorstep offers both food and shelter for birds, bees and other wildlife; unlike hard surfaces, lawns and borders soak up rainwater and help prevent homes flooding; trees and shrubs trap dust and pollution, helping us to breathe more easily, and there’s growing evidence that coming home to a green oasis can help boost our mental health too. From a very practical point of view, climbers and trees can help to insulate our homes and reduce wind chill, lowering our heating bills in the process, so it’s a no-brainer.”

The RHS is practising what it preaches at Harlow Carr by:

• Planting more native trees (willow, acer, alder, hawthorn) in the Woodland

• Trialling the use of porous paving - made from recycled tyres, stone and bonding resin – along stretches of footpaths throughout the garden to assess how effectively it allows rain water to permeate.

• Creating a new ‘green’ visitor car park to reduce the amount of water running from the car park onto Crag Lane. Grids support the weight of cars and allow grass to grow within them, while a permeable sub-base allows all of the rainfall landing in the area to percolate into the ground where it is captured by subterranean storage crates and ditches (bioswales), then gradually released into local water courses via a hydro-brake. This technique ensures water running off the area is no greater than it would be for normal pastureland.

• Dismantling the predominantly concrete post-war 'Festival of Britain' garden reflecting 1950’s & 60’s modernism and replacing it with soft landscaping including a birch grove stretching down to the lakeside.

To do your bit, visit www.rhs.org.uk/ggb and pledge to Green Grey Britain.


Notes to editors

Harlow Carr curator Paul Cook and Alan Sedman from the Vantage Toyota Knaresborough dealership will plant a tree in the Greening Grey Britain (GGB) demonstration garden at RHS Garden Harlow Carr at 10.30am on Tuesday 21 March 2017.

Please contact Ali Aston, Marketing & PR Executive with any press queries on 01423 724693, email aliaston@rhs.org.uk or Sasha Jackson-Brown on 01423 724651, email sashajacksonbrown@rhs.org.uk.

Notes to Editors:

*The RHS 2015 Front Gardens Report is based on information taken from a comparison of figures from a 2015 Mori Poll to 1,492 people in the UK aged 15+ with front gardens (Mar 6-22 2015) and a 2005 Mori Poll to 1,723 people in the UK aged 15+ with front gardens (May 19-23 2005).

Other facts and statistics:
• Trees, hedges and climbers can reduce the cost of heating and cooling. In particular, summer cooling saving have been estimated at around 30 percent 1
• Garden plants and trees intercept intense rain, slowing run off and reducing pressure on drains especially during summer storms 2
• In Leeds, there has been a 13% increase in impervious surfaces over the last 30 years, 75% of which was due to the paving of front gardens 3
• 10% increase in vegetation would help control the summertime air temperatures predicted with moderate CO2 emissions rise climate change scenario 4
• 85% of properties have a front garden, so 19.13 million 5
• 7 million front gardens are paved 6

• Almost a third (30%) of front plots and 15% of rear plots, had the area largely or wholly covered by hard landscaping materials (concrete, paving, gravel, tarmac etc.) 5

• 25% of garden space is front gardens 7

• All garden space accounts for approximately half the greenspace in towns and cities; or a fifth to a quarter of the land in towns and cities

1 Akbari H, Kurn DM, Bretz SE, Hanford JW (1997) Peak power and cooling energy savings of shade trees. Energy and Buildings 25: 139–148.
2 Meerow AW, Black RJ (2003) Enviroscaping to conserve energy: a guide to microclimate modification. In: Circular EES-43. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Florida, USA, p10.
3 Perry T, Nawaz R (2008) An investigation into the extent and impacts of hard surfacing of domestic gardens in an area of Leeds, United Kingdom. Landscape and Urban Planning 86: 1–13.
4 Gill SE, Handley JF, Ennos AR, Pauleit S (2007) Adapting cities for climate change: the role of green infrastructure. Built Environment 33: 115–133.
5 Office for National Statistics and Miller Mitchell Burley Lane (2010) “English Housing Survey Housing stock report 2008”, Department for Communities and Local Government https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6703/1750754.pdf  
6 Bates, J and Leibling (2012), D “Spaced Out Perspectives on parking policy”, RAC Foundation, http://www.racfoundation.org/assets/rac_foundation/content/downloadables/spaced_out-bates_leibling-jul12.pdf  
7 Smith, C (2010) "London: Garden city?." London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London, Greater London Authority, London. http://www.lbp.org.uk/downloads/Publications/HabitatInfo/LondonGardenCity.pdf
8 Cameron, R., Blanusa, T., Taylor, J., Salisbury, A., Halstead, A., Henricot, B. and Thompson, K. (2012) The domestic garden: its contribution to urban green infrastructure. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/26212/

RHS Garden Harlow Carr
Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 1QB
SatNav: HG3 1UE

Opening times
Harlow Carr is open every day except for Christmas Day.
9.30am – 4pm November to February inclusive
9.30am – 6pm March to October inclusive
Last admission is one hour before closing time.

Admission prices
RHS members enjoy free entry with a family guest (entitlements may vary according to membership type)

Non-members (excluding Gift Aid)
Adult £11.00
Family (2 plus 2) £28.00
Children 5 – 16yrs £5.50
Children under 5 years Free
Groups £9.00

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262


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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262