Broadway, UK - July 07, 2020: Facade and front garden of a traditional limestone house in Broadway, a large historic village within the Cotswolds in the county of Worcestershire, England

UK’s front gardens blooming again, survey suggests

Image credit: AlenaKravchenko/Dreamstime

Greenery in front gardens across the UK has surged over the past five years, according to a new survey.

The number of front gardens with no greenery at all has halved in five years, according to surveys for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) carried out in 2015 by Ipsos MORI and in 2020 by YouGov. Furthermore, twice as many people said the space at the front of their house is entirely greened up compared with five years ago.

The RHS suggested that if replicated countrywide, the shift to greener front gardens could mean almost 40 square miles of plants, trees, grass and earth has been created in five years. Horticulturalists also estimated that homeowners have been adding an area of planting 70 times the size of Hyde Park.

Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Horticultural Story (RHS) of a green front garden.

Image credit: Neil Hepworth/RHS/PA

The horticultural charity, which launched a campaign to green up gardens in 2015 in response to the spread of paving and gravel, says greener spaces in front of homes have a range of benefits. For example, they can improve people’s mental and physical health, help wildlife, conserve water from rainfall, improve the air quality, and cool cities in hot summer months.

But while the proportion of front gardens with no or little greenery has fallen since 2015, when 44 per cent of survey respondents said they had no plants or less than a quarter plant cover, that is still the case for a third of gardens. This shows there is “still much work to be done”, said RHS director of science and collections Professor Alistair Griffiths.

But the RHS is hopeful that a surge in gardening activity and interest during the start of the pandemic last year can help fill gardens and homes with plants. The RHS said its website received more than 31 million unique visits in 2020, up from 19.9 million visits in 2019, with traffic to its advice pages increasing 100 per cent during the first lockdown last year.

Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Horticultural Story (RHS) of a green front garden

Image credit: Tim Sandall/RHS/PA

The survey found that nearly half of people (48 per cent) with a garden said they spent more time in it during the spring lockdown and more than a quarter bought more plants for their garden.

“The RHS has been promoting the importance of adding plants to paved-over front gardens since 2015 when we launched our Greening Great Britain campaign,” said Professor Griffiths. “Although there is still much to do, we are thrilled to see an improvement, which has been helped by millions of people taking up gardening over lockdown and buying more plants to grow indoors and out.”

The findings come ahead of the opening of RHS Hilltop at the charity’s Wisley garden in Surrey, with a large exhibition space showing the latest gardening science, learning facilities, and four acres of “living laboratory” gardens. This new garden space, which opens in June, aims to promote the power of plants to improve health and wellbeing, support wildlife, and help the environment.

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