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How the garden has evolved over time

27th September 2017 Print

Gardens in Britain have been shrinking since the 1920s – and by looking at our own gardens, we probably wouldn’t notice it. However, over the years, this has led to a change in the way we perceive our own gardens on a regular basis. The British home has decreased in size by 50%, and gardens have also depleted from 168 metres squared to 163.2 metres squared between the years 1983 and 2013. Arbor Deck, retailers of decking boards, take a look at what has really happened to our gardens, and how they have changed alongside our modern lives.

In 2010, two million homes did not have a garden, and this figure will gradually rise over the years. By 2020, 10.5% of homes will not have a garden, which means in that years to come fewer and fewer of us will own a property with a garden. This 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. 

Over the years, gardeners have used their allotted space for many different reasons – the size and shape of a garden isn’t the only thing that gardeners are concerned with. 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; they are a space dictated by decoration and ornamentation. 

Dictated by the space available in a garden, the materials and furniture that is used within the space is usually chosen carefully. 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: Pots can be made from plastics, as opposed to clay, and biodegradable materials so that materials can degenerate back into the natural environment. 

- Lawn mowers: They have come a long way since the days of powering one rotational; cylinder by hand. Now, with the invention of more sophisticated technologies, electric powered mowers have meant that gardeners can easily cut their grass without any fuss.

Although garden centres have been around for years, many people don’t actually know how they started. In the 1950s and 60s, garden centres were first popularised. 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 in the UK due to their availability. 

After the 1960s, by embracing the counter-cultural revolution of the 1970s, Britain began to find new ways of using their gardens. People became more interested in growing their own vegetables at home within sustainable gardening projects. With the availability of colour televisions, gardening programmes could be shown to a wider audience, so that viewers would become aware of how to maintain their garden at its best. 

After the grow-your-own movement of the 70s, the garden changed once again in 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. 

The garden was once again to receive a makeover in the 1990s – popularised heavily through television programmes of the time. 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. 

When times move forward and trends change, there’s no doubt that the garden will change once again, as it has done in 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 economically and eco-friendly, the garden can become a space to celebrate the natural world without having to break the bank for ornamental decorations.