Green and confused

Stop your driveway causing flooding

A. The squeeze on parking space in cities, towns and even villages up and down the country has ravaged front gardens — swarms of locusts would be hard put to have done more damage. About two thirds of front gardens in London — an area equivalent to more than 20 Hyde Parks — have been lost to car parking in the past 30 years. A similar pattern is repeated elsewhere: people in the northeast of England are particularly fond of hard standing at the front of the house.

The impact of losing all these gardens is considerable. An increasingly volatile climate has led to more torrential rainstorms, but we have a drainage system, designed in Victorian times, that finds it difficult to cope with sudden rushes of water. Ideally, a large proportion of rainfall should be absorbed by the ground. Clearly, such a process is not possible on a hard surface. The serious flooding that affected many parts of the country in recent years, particularly in the summer of 2007, is partly blamed on the vast increase in concreted areas, converted front gardens included.

Other issues associated with the loss of front gardens are the impact on wildlife, particularly insects and birds, and an increase in what’s called the urban heat island effect — the more hard surfaces there are in a city or town, the higher the temperature.
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If you decide to go ahead and convert your garden into a car port, be sure to use one of the many permeable materials on the market, including gravel, reinforced artificial grass and bonded compounds with a permeable resin mix. After new regulations were brought in last year, planning permission must now be sought for the conversion to an impermeable surface of any area around your house bigger than five square metres.

You could argue that by using your front garden for parking space you’re doing your bit for the environment — freeing the street for cyclists and making the roadway generally safer. There’s also the question of insurance: off-road parking means a lower premium. Some estate agents, particularly in inner city areas, argue that a house with its own car space fetches between £5,000 and £10,000 more than one without, though others say that a front garden full of flowers and shrubs adds value.

As a compromise, how about putting two hard tracks at the front of the house, leaving the rest of the area to absorb water and provide for the plants and birds? That way both your car and your conscience can rest easy.


  1. siska said...
    nice and good post,thanks for information friend!
    raj said...
    great info... great job & very helpful...nice blog
    Work from home

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