Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

The paving or concreting of front gardens comes up semi-regularly. I just spotted another article mentioning it by my colleague Kevin Harris in which he tells us that almost a third of front gardens in the UK have been turned into hardstanding,

In an earlier blog Kevin referenced the RHS on the subject. They have the following to say:

Gardens can soak up rain, while paving, tarmac and concrete are less porous and increase the amount of rainwater that runs off by as much as 50 percent. This additional water usually flows into street drains, which can’t always cope with the thousands of extra litres in a storm. The excess can then go back up people’s front drives to floods their homes. The water has to go somewhere and, even if you are not flooded, it might be affecting your neighbours downhill.

Where is not possible to keep garden space: keep paving to an absolute minimum and use a permeable paving material.

The benefits of permeable paving include:

  • Reduce local flooding
  • Prevents problems with subsidence. Paving reduces or stops rainfall getting into the ground. This can cause the soil to shrink, especially if it is predominantly clay, which has consequences for structures built on it. Garden walls, paths and houses may develop severe cracks

Additional benefits of not paving over front gardens or keeping the paving to a minimum:

  • Leafy gardens carry premium prices
  • Attractive front gardens have benefits for people too. They provide screening and privacy, creating a green oasis for enjoyment
  • If vegetation is lost from our streets there is less to regulate urban temperatures. Hard surfaces absorb heat in the day and release it at night, making it hot and difficult to sleep. This is part of the ‘heat island effect’, which can also be responsible for poorer air quality and localised weather conditions, such as thunderstorms
  • Tending your garden at the front of the house gives neighbours the opportunity to meet and can help to build community spirit

The RHS in turn referenced the Ealing front gardens project who offer 43 reasons not to pave.

Tags for Forum Posts: concreted front gardens, front gardens

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I agree! I wish more people would plant hedges in their front gardens. If you walk down a road where there are hedges,it looks much nicer and window boxes look great.

As long as they are trimmed. There are many neglected front hedges that force people to walk in the street.

Report 'em, John.  In the pull-down box, select "Trees / Shrubs / Hedges "


44. It's illegal. Or I thought it was, I've been telling people that for years.

I have beans and salads growing in raised beds in my front yard, as well as a stunning Cotinus coggygria which should be a shrub but is now a 15-foot tree. It does poke people as they pass a bit so this reminds me I need to get out there with the secateurs, or expect a visit from the Hedge Police. The light passes through it to me when I'm at my desk so it glows red, and it waves at me. How could anyone prefer concrete, in exchange for ten minutes' work a week?

It's illegal to install an impermeable surface of over 5m2 in a front garden without gaining permission from the council building control. But do councils actually enforce this requirement? I very much doubt they do!

The council rarely enforce mainly I assume because they are undermanned. They rely on the public reporting any illegal concreting of front gardens and if it's a near neighbour most people are unlikly to protest. The council need to be more proactive. In N8 where I live, 50% of front gardens have disappeared to concrete in one road alone. And how soulless these roads now look.

A few pavement slabs or even shingle would do for the stability of bins anna and the rest could be soil/ raised beds, border hedges, etc.  That's what we have done

Ah, Colin! So that's where the York stone slabs from Lothair Rd Nth got to. Wouldn't it have been easier to pick (yes 'pick') them up from Lothair Rd Sth ?


does anyone have any experience with removing (ie jackhammering) the existing paving out of their front garden?  we're interested in doing it but are worried about the structural effect on our house.

I've done this out the back with no problems beyond the fact that it is a horrible job and will make you never want to put concrete anywhere in your garden again.

I don't know if there would be structural issues with removing it from the front. We have the same situation as you by the sounds of it and what worries me is how to deal with the various cables and pipes that lie just below the concrete. Very interested in what others have done.

No I haven't, but I'm sure it can be done safely. However, when we wanted to put a hedge in our front garden, instead of removing paving, we planted a privet hedge in large rectangular pots (like large deep window boxes) and we now have a beautiful full grown hedge.



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