the GiGLer

The newsletter of Greenspace Information of Greater London CIC

Blooming London

Chloë Smith, GiGL Data Officer


London is arguably one of the world’s most verdant big cities. A significant part of our green space is managed by ordinary Londoners – the humble gardeners.

Gardens cover nearly a quarter of London, yet we know little about what’s in them or how this is changing. Over the period of a year GiGL worked in partnership with London Wildlife Trust and the Greater London Authority to fully document London’s garden cover for the first time.

The results of the garden survey show that London’s gardens contribute considerably to our green reputation. Around 57%, or 22000 ha, of our total 37900 ha of garden land is vegetated.

This is good news for people and wildlife. Garden vegetation can provide shelter, food and nesting habitat which brings people closer to nature on their doorstep. Trees and shrubs can help to cool air temperature. Lawns and herbaceous borders let rain water soak away in residential areas.

However, these roles may be being compromised by another trend. Our study confirms fears that garden hard surfacing is increasing at the expense of vegetated cover.

The loss is equivalent to paving or decking two and a half Hyde Parks a year. Front gardens tend to be most hard surfaced, but the trend for increased hard surface is significant in back gardens too.

The loss of garden vegetation is alarming. But within the problem lies the solution. Our figures demonstrate people’s management decisions have significant cumulative effects at city scale. Londoners’ have the power to affect their city’s environment by managing their gardens in a different way. A positive trend for greener garden maintenance could halt the move to hard surfacing and protect our gardens as a haven for wildlife and people for the future.

To read our published research summary see and for information about press release and wildlife gardening see

1 Comment

  1. Rodney Compton on September 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I have been working with a similar understanding of such conditions, that are found in the Greater London Borough of Bromley and have recorded at least ten front gardens in one street that have gone the way of the paver. The most significant factor is the perceived need among residents for parking space, as LBB (clean and green, but no insight) extend further and further their parking restrictions. Something though that has not been raised, but which I, and my co-worker in this area, Dr David Venters, think is a highly significant factor, is the misuse of garden pesticides.

    To this general end, I have been trying to interest the BBC in a project to popularise gardening for wildlife – with a reality TV approach, where a group of individuals are given tasks and are educated by hands on experts to create their own little wildlife patch. This is on the basis that there is too much emphasis on protecting rare species and not enough on providing habitat in general. This over emphasis in the media on the sensational or the vanishing species, implies that wildlife in general has had it, so demoralising those who might be open to education and have an incipient concern for what wildlife we still have and they can nurture, with the right guidance.

    This issue deserves to be recognised, so If you approve, or have an angle of your own, perhaps you might lend weight to my suggestions, by sending an email – my contact at the BBC is Jess Baker

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