Posted 9th Aug 2017
British homes and gardens are both getting smaller, if research is to be believed
Homes throughout the country have halved in size from 1920 to the current day, for example, while the average British garden measured in at 163.2 metres squared as of 2013 — quite a drop from 168 metres squared in 1983.
Over two million homes throughout Britain aren’t even designed with a garden currently, figures from 2010 also suggested. That’s not to mention that it’s been predicted that 10.5 per cent of all homes in the country will not have a garden come 2020. This is not good news in light of research that suggests children with no access to gardens are 38 per cent more likely to become obese.
It isn’t just the size and how we access gardens which has changed when it comes to the setup of our homes’ outdoor spaces. Instead, the entire approach to gardening in the UK has shifted as different materials have come into usage – from synthetic living spaces such as decking to actual gardening tools like fertiliser, which was originally organic. Some of the first things to change were:
Plant pots: Originally made from clay, pots are now generally plastic or biodegradable.
Fertiliser: Once, fertiliser was entirely organic. However, chemicals have now been developed to serve as fertiliser – although many gardeners prefer organics.
Lawn mowers: Originally, grass cutting relied on a manual process. Early machinery was developed in the 1900s which saw early versions of cylinder mowers powered by pushing. Now, electric-powered motors mean gardens are far easier to maintain.
Materials: Gardening still employs the same basic materials it always did: stone, clay, timber and soil. Now, however, we use plastic, concrete and stainless steel – which was invented in 1913.
Even when we can still access gardens, our approach is likely to be different to homeowners of previous generations. During WW2, gardens became areas for growing food to supplement rationing, but also an area of refuge for those who had build their own bomb shelters. In the 1950s, gardeners shrugged this sensibility off and focus shifted towards ornamentation and decoration, placing more attention on manicured lawns and neatly trimmed shrubs.
By the time the 1950s were drawing to a close and the 60s were beginning, garden centres started to emerge across the globe. The first of these in Britain was based in Ferndown, in Dorset — opening in 1955, it forever changed the way British gardeners cultivated plants. This widespread availability of plants meant heathers, conifers and bedding plants became popular.
The counterculture movement of the 1970s would have a big impact on the gardening scene too, as it brought about the trends of self-sufficiency and growing your own. Colour TV’s invention also saw the widespread airing of gardening programmes.
Modern Brits found gardens to be recognisable parts of their homes by the time the 1980s came around. The decade would also pave the way for the concept of recreation around our outdoor spaces. Barbecues and conservatories grew in popularity. By the 90s, this movement became more about the ‘makeover’ – with many people installing decking as a fast, affordable way to create a living space in their gardens.
The growth of the internet into the 2000s changed the gardening scene quite significantly yet again. Now, information about growing and cultivating your own plants is everywhere, accessible through mobiles, desktops and tablets. A renewed focus on climate change and healthy eating has also meant more people are aiming to create sustainable gardens with minimal harm to the environment, using recycled materials whether they are investing in a new set of plant pots or some composite decking.
While it is clearly beneficial for so many new materials and fresh information to be readily available to homeowners today, how are they able to make use of them when gardens are getting smaller? For some, this will mean studying guides online and creating their own DIY fruit and vegetable gardens. For others, it will mean creating as much living space as they can in their shrinking gardens.
Article courtesy of Arbor Deck