ArborForest highlight the transformation of the UK garden and how it has evolved from a practical use post-war to a place of relaxation today
Over time, homes have been shrinking, meaning our gardens are getting smaller. Compared to those built in 1920, the British home has halved in size, and with it the garden has decreased from 168 metres squared to 163.2 metres squared between 1983 and 2013.
According to 2010 figures, nearly two million British homes do not have a garden. By 2020, it is estimated that 10.5% of homes will not have a garden. This is problematic, as it has been suggested that children who do not have access to a garden are 38% more likely to contend with heart problems and become obese.
Common changes to gardens
As different materials have come into use, the approach we take to gardening has changed as much as the size or access. Synthetic living spaces have become popular in recent years, with the rise of decking and other furnishings included in the garden. Fertilisers, that were once organic, are now composed of synthetic materials. Some of the most commonly known changes to the British garden are:
- Pots and plants: Generally made from plastic or other biodegradable materials, the plant pot was once made from clay.
- Lawn mowers: Originally relying upon a manual process, cylinder mowers were powered by pushing the mower forward. Now, electric powered mowers mean that gardeners can easily cut their grass without any fuss.
The way we perceive our gardens as a space has changed too. In WW2, gardens became areas for growing foods to supplement rationing, and were also seen as an area of refuge for those who wanted to build their own bomb shelter. Focusing on decoration and ornamentation, lawns that are kept in pristine condition and attended-to flowers are what people strive towards now.
In the late 1950s and 60s, garden centres were popularised in Britain. England set up its first garden centre in Ferndown, Dorset in 1955, which changed the way gardeners used their own spaces forever. As they were so readily available heathers, conifers and bedding plants became popular.
During the 70s-counter culture people once again became focused on growing your own and sustainability; colour television also meant that gardening programmes could be shown to a wide audience to influence garden designs and practices.
During the 80s, gardens became known as a recreational space rather than a space of utility for growing vegetables. BBQs and conservatories became popular, and by the 90s the garden became more of a space that would have a ‘makeover’ – installing decking in a fast and affordable way that would transform the physical space and the look of the garden.
Again, in the 21st century, gardening has changed. Now, information about how to grow and cultivate your own plants and vegetables is readily available to those who want it. This information can be accessed through a variety of smart devices such as mobiles and tablets. By using recycled materials and composite decking, people are more conscientious about creating spaces that don’t pollute the environment, and contribute towards the natural regeneration of the garden. Who knows what’s next for the garden, but one things certain future growth looks promising!