Front Gardens

Front gardens are under threat!

What is a garden? 

A garden is a piece of ground next to or around a house.  The modern words garden and yard come from the Old English word geard. A geard was an enclosed area surrounded by some sort of barrier or fence. People used this enclosed space to grow herbs and vegetables, to keep animals and to shelter from the sun.

What is the history of gardening?

The first gardens were found in Egypt and the Middle East. The Egyptians grew  a variety of trees such as fig, nut and pomegranate and many different types of flowers including roses, poppies, irises, daisies, and cornflowers. They built rectangular ponds filled with fish and planted trees in rows.

The Assyrians and the Persians favoured large pleasure gardens with water features fed by irrigation canals.  Later on, rich Romans added courtyard gardens to their palaces and villas. These were filled with water features, statues, hedges and flowers.  When the Romans conquered Britain they introduced new plants such as roses, leeks, turnips, and plums. Visit Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens near Chichester to see a replica Roman garden.

In the Middle Ages gardening fell out of fashion but many churches kept a garden for growing medicinal herbs and for decorating the church. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the fashion for landscaped gardens took off. Rich people employed landscape gardeners to remodel their gardens. Many of these gardens are now open to the public. Visit the National Trust website to find a garden near you.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ordinary homes were built with gardens to the front and the back and gardening became a popular pastime.  To learn more about the history of gardening visit the English Heritage website.

Modern gardens

Today, gardens and in particular front gardens, are under threat. We need to protect and value them more. Between 2011 and 2021 London lost 4% of its gardens. Extensions, outdoor offices and garden rooms  were built in back gardens as people wanted more indoor space. Front gardens were turned over to car parking and people replaced their green lawns with artificial turfs.

Benefits to having a garden

People who live in a home with a garden report many benefits from having their own space for gardening, relaxation and entertainment. They enjoy growing and eating their own fruit and vegetables and the sight and smell of cultivated flowers. Birds, mammals and insects all live in our gardens and add to the richness of our lives.

Threats to gardens

The concreting over of our gardens creates problems such as flash flooding, a decline in biodiversity and an increase in the heat island effect. Campaigners are working to reverse this damage. As climate change becomes a reality, we can all do our bit to help the planet by cherishing our front gardens. To learn more about how to care for your front garden visit the Ealing Council website.

What are you doing to protect and enhance your  front garden? Email me at