Pull up your paving

Why remove hard surfaces in your garden?


Our gardens are getting smaller and are becoming increasingly covered in impermeable paving. Converting these sealed surfaces (including patios, decking and artificial grass) to wildlife-friendly alternatives can have huge benefits to urban wildlife and human health.

Compared to vegetated areas, these hard surfaces pose a number of issues:

  • The 16 million gardens in the UK make up over a million acres of land, serving as vital wildlife habitats. Reducing green space within these, makes it hard for animals to find food and shelter.

  • Hard surfaces increase the risk of flooding and create higher temperatures in urban areas. Just a 10% increase in vegetation in urban areas would help limit negative climate change effects.

1 in 4 UK front gardens are completely paved over.
That’s 3 times as many as 10 years ago.

What can you do to help?


You can reduce the hard surfaces in your Naturespace and replace them with a wildlife-friendly surfaces instead, such as establishing a flower rich lawn, planting flowers for pollinators or planting trees and shrubs for wildlife.

We appreciate that some areas may need to be hardstanding, such as a driveway, but there are alternatives to your standard sealed concrete that you can consider, which allow water to drain away far easier. Take a look at the Royal Horticultural Society guidance for more information.

How to remove hard surfaces

For smaller paved areas, you may be able to pull them up yourself and replace it with turf or flowers. Larger jobs may require the help of a landscaping company or gardener.

  • If you’re ‘doing it yourself’, make sure you take care when lifting heavy paving stones and also that you have the correct equipment for the task you are carrying out (for example gloves and eye protection).

  • If you don’t own the property, make sure you get permission before making any modifications to the surfaces.

  • Be aware of buried cabling and take care to avoid tree roots if there are any large trees nearby.

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Unless otherwise credited, all illustrations © Chris Shields, and all wildlife photographs © Steven Falk
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