Flower power plea to householders
Householders are being urged to make a stand against the grey sprawl of paved-over front gardens by turning them green with plants.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is launching its "greening grey Britain" campaign to encourage people to plant trees, shrubs, climbers, hedges or flowers to attract wildlife, improve air quality and reduce urban temperatures and the risk of flooding.
Gardens are increasingly being paved over, with seven million UK front gardens containing concrete and cars rather than flowers and grass, the society said, increasing flood risk and reducing the availability of homes and food for wildlife.
But a survey of 2,000 people for the RHS found that 95% thought being in a beautiful garden lifted their mood and more than 60% said looking a street of paved-over front gardens saddened them.
And despite planning rules which aim to reduce the risk of flash flooding from run-off from paved areas, the poll also found that 60% of people worry about paved front gardens and flooding.
The RHS will be launching a three-year target alongside this year's annual Britain In Bloom campaign to transform 6,000 unloved grey spaces into planted-up places.
And they will be promoting ways of greening urban areas, from pulling up a paving stone and planting it up, to creating window boxes, planting front gardens and transforming grey community areas.
Alistair Griffiths, RHS director of science and collections, said: "Many of us get a boost by simply looking at a beautiful garden or having access to green space.
"So instead of paving over green we can all play a part in reducing the grey and brightening it, and us, up with some plants.
"On top of making us feel better and happier, if hundreds and thousands of people across the country across the country grew more plants of different varieties in gardens and community spaces, it would all help to improve our air quality, benefit us, our wildlife and reduce temperatures and flooding risks.
"Greening grey Britain can be as big or small as anyone likes, the critical point is that collectively we can all make a positive difference one plant at a time."
The RHS will be using its army of 300,000 Britain in Bloom volunteers to help with the campaign, and will also be putting the spotlight on front gardens, helping people find ways to have parking and incorporate plants at the front of their house, he said.
The society is promoting five simple steps that people could take in their gardens, which if many householders implemented could have a major positive effect - to plant a tree, a hedge, a shrub, a climber or a perennial plant
Trees, hedges and climbers can cool buildings and reduce the effect of increased summer temperatures due to climate change, while garden plants and trees intercept intense rain, slow run-off and reduce the pressure on drains which can lead to flash flooding.