Less gravel, more greenery

Inspiration for weather-resistant green spaces

Less gravel, more greenery © GARDENA

Green spaces come in all shapes and sizes, with even small and shady spots proving popular. They store CO2, provide shade and absorb water that evaporates with a cooling effect, which is exactly what is needed during a heat wave. On top of that, they provide food and shelter for animals as part of a functioning ecosystem.

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Gardens, balconies, and terraces are popular spots for gardening, relaxation, growing own food or extension of the indoor living space. But as extreme weather becomes more common, it is increasingly important for gardens to be adaptable. Efficient water use and biodiversity are key when it comes to planning resilient gardens.

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Private gardens are as individual as the gardeners behind them and they can be used in very different ways. Green spaces can be whatever their owners want and need them to be – a vegetable patch, a play area or a decorative showcase. No matter how small a garden area is, it needs to be able to adapt to changes in the climate and ready to withstand heavy rain, heat waves and droughts. Dry spells are bad news for plants and the costs of all the additional watering required soon add up. A sudden shift to extremely wet conditions can be just as harmful to some plants.

Robust gardens with stable ecosystems

Natural green spaces designed to a long-term plan are highly resilient to extreme weather conditions. They are filled with trees providing shade, perennial shrubs and ground cover plants. These plants have roots that can withstand heavy rain and are so deep that they are more resilient to heat waves and droughts. Native plants are planted strategically to be mutually beneficial or grouped together based on their water requirements so that it is easier to water them efficiently. They provide animals with shelter and food almost all year round, filling the space with variety and colour. Animals need a garden to be a year-round habitat based on long-term planning if they are going to make it their permanent home. This lays the foundations for a stable ecosystem that can provide the setting for playing and growing food.

Biodiversity-friendly design

Biodiversity can be factored into garden plans in a number of ways. It has to be said that gardeners do not have to make drastic changes to their gardens overnight in response to the climate-related challenges being faced. Even making minor tweaks to the gardening routine, rearranging a few things, or carefully choosing plants can help to reduce the amount of water a garden needs and build its resilience. Picking native plants or plants which attracts, and feed insects are first steps. But taking action to keep soil healthy, such as using compost and avoiding pesticides, also gives green spaces more chance of withstanding climate change. An intact ecosystem is better placed to cope with extreme weather conditions than monoculture.

Goodbye gravel

Gardens filled with gravel and chippings – and a few single plants here or there – used to popular, but this fame is long gone. And for good reason. These gardens are hard to maintain because the stones go green, it is hard to remove leaves and weeds appear. When the sun is shining, gravel gets hot, absorbs the heat and radiates it back out. This kind of sealed surface cannot absorb much rainwater either, which restricts the cooling effect of evaporation and stops water from soaking away. They do not provide any food or shelter for birds and insects like bees and butterflies. A more natural garden requires less maintenance, promotes biodiversity, and regulates the temperature outside the home.

One low-maintenance option for front gardens is a combination of woody plants and shrubs. Shadbush is an undemanding tree that looks interesting all year round, with white flowers in spring, edible fruit in summer and colourful leaves in autumn. Perennial shrubs like lavender, sage, scabious and astrantia do not require a great deal of effort but are nice to look at and act as a source of food for animals.

Enjoyment and entertainment

A classic family garden is a green space with seasonal flowering plants around the edge. There are outdoor toys on the lawn and evergreen hedges acting as a privacy screen. There is an easy way of making a garden like this more resilient – planting perennial native shrubs in the borders rather than plants that need changing with every season. This will be a treat for all the senses thanks to all the colours and scents. Plus, shrubs of this kind provide food and shelter for insects, birds and small mammals. Trees break up the structure of a garden, provide shade and can even act as a climbing frame. Perennial plants and trees that provide shade have deep roots, meaning they can withstand heavy rain and are less affected by droughts.

Plant symbiosis

The main purpose of a vegetable garden is growing food. Fruit and veg can be grown on balconies and patios too. Space does not have to be an issue, with pots and pillar fruit trees as options. But is there a clever way to design these spaces so that fruit and vegetables can continue to thrive with as little water as possible being consumed?

Vegetable gardens become more robust and diverse when other plants are incorporated alongside fruit and vegetable crops and mutual benefits are achieved. Those other plants can provide fruit and vegetables with shade to protect them from the sun as well as loosening the soil and keeping pests at bay. They provide food for insects, which encourages the pollination the fruit and vegetable crops require. Additional plants can also stop soil from being washed out of beds by heavy rain. For example, spinach is a team player with deep roots that create a fine soil layer for radishes or lettuce planted later in the year. Gardeners who enjoy decorative plants can also plant nasturtiums, which provide shade and eye-catching edible flowers.

Tactics and technology

There are so many ways of making gardens more resilient to weather conditions. Plants can be picked strategically; gardens can be designed to promote biodivesity and rainwater can be stored in water butts or tanks. Rainwater is a free resource and plants prefer it to tap water anyway because it is softer. Watering the garden can become even more efficient when smart technology is involved. Drip irrigation is idea for gardens, balconies, and patios, with water being supplied to the roots, where it can be most easily absorbed. This method ensures that the nutrients remain in the soil close to the plants’ roots, rather than being washed away into deeper soil layers or even into the groundwater.

Whether gardeners choose to rely on technology or adapt the design of their garden, what really matters is that they start to take action to build resilience to climate change. Every little helps – and makes a green space more attractive as a habitat as well as more resilient.

About Gardena
For over 50 years Gardena has provided everything passionate gardeners need. The broad assortment of products offers innovative solutions and systems for watering, lawn care, tree and shrub care and soil cultivation. Today, Gardena is a leading European supplier of high-quality gardening tools and distributed in more than 100 countries worldwide. Gardena is a brand of Husqvarna Group. Gardena Division has 3,450 employees worldwide. Further information on gardena.com.
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Less gravel, more greenery
3 500 x 2 333 photo_camera © GARDENA
Biodiversity-friendly design
3 500 x 2 408 photo_camera © GARDENA
Tactics and technology
3 500 x 2 334 photo_camera © GARDENA
Collecting precious rainwater
3 500 x 2 818 photo_camera © GARDENA


1 Susanne Huber (en)
Susanne Huber
Brand and products

3 FleishmanHillard (en)
Justine Merz
FleishmanHillard Germany GmbH
Phone +49 69-405702535