Whether you’ve noticed it or not, our gardens are shrinking. Compared to those built in 1920, the British home has decreased in size by 50%; gardens have also depleted from 168 metres squared to 163.2 metres squared between the years 1983 to 2013. With the help of ArborDeck, specialists in composite decking, we take a look at what has really happened to our gardens.
It was estimated that in 2010, two million British homes did not have a garden. 10.5% of homes will not have a garden by 2020, which questions how important our garden is and how we have used it over time. What becomes troubling within these figures is that 38% of children are more likely to become obese if they do not have access to a garden.
The way that we use our garden has also changed, and its layout isn’t the most important feature anymore. During the Second World War, the garden was a space where vegetables could be planted to cope with the demands of rationing.
They could also be used as a bomb shelter for those who were in more suburban areas. Now kept in pristine condition, gardens have changed. They aren’t so much about vegetable patches and bomb shelters anymore; rather, they are a space that is dictated by decoration and ornamentation.
Depending on the accessibility and size of our gardens, this has dictated the materials that we use within them. With the rise of decking and replicating indoor spaces outdoors, the garden has become more than anything else a synthetic space – like the home itself. Some of the most classic changes to the British garden are as follows:
• Pots and plants: The plant pot was once made from clay, and now it is created from plastic or biodegradable materials so that the pot will eventually become part of the natural environment.
• Lawn mowers: In an age gone by, lawn mowers were powered by hand and a rotational cylinder would move as the user moved forward. Now with the invention of more sophisticated technologies, electric powered mowers have meant that gardeners can easily cut their grass without any fuss.
England opened its first garden centre in the 1950s and 60s, which arguably kicked off the modern gardening phenomenon in the UK that we see today.
The first was in Ferndown, Dorset in 1995, and encouraged gardeners to buy plants from exotic locations. As a result, heathers, conifers and bedding plants became popular within the UK due to their availability.
Once Britain had moved away from the conservatism of the 60s, Britain emerged into the 70s-counter culture, which meant that people became more focused on their own sustainable gardening projects – whilst growing their own vegetables at home.
With the availability of colour televisions, gardening programmes could be shown to a wide audience, so that gardeners would become aware of how to keep their garden at its best.
As the times moved forward, so did our gardens. During the 80s, the garden was a space that was recreational rather than a space utilised for growing vegetables.
BBQs and conservatories were then popularised, making it a space to be shared with friends and family. In the 90s, this is a space that would receive a ‘makeover’, often popularised on television.
Usually, this would be done by installing decking, which is a good way of dynamically changing the look and atmosphere of a garden without too much hassle.
Unsurprisingly, gardens began to change again after the millennial turn into the 21st century. As information is disseminated more freely, and is easy to obtain through smartphones and tablets, growing and cultivating gardens with fruits and vegetables has become easier than ever to understand.
With the future of gardening set to become more economical and eco-friendly, the garden can become a space to celebrate the natural world without having to break the bank for ornamental decorations.
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