Making domestic gardens an integral part of our green infrastructure

As Europe’s largest greenspace initiative, Central Scotland Green Network is focused on transforming the region into a place where the environment adds value to the economy and where people’s lives are enriched by its quality.

Over the past year, the Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT) has been exploring ways in which gardens can contribute to many of the qualities of successful places identified throughout the Scottish Government’s design policy.

As part of this focus CSGNT has developed a guide, Greener Gardens – An Introduction to Raingardens for Developers, that provides advice on different options for gardens and the ideal raingarden locations for maximum impact and planting advice.

CSGNT has also just released a book which brings together the views of leading experts from across the globe, to inspire the transformation of central Scotland for future generations. Growing Awareness – How green consciousness can change perceptions and places is edited by Brian Evans, head of urbanism at The Glasgow School of Art, and Sue Evans, head of development at CSGNT.

Contributors to the book describe how globally, urban areas are facing a host of critical challenges, including pressures on land caused by population increase; the effects of climate change; scarcity of resources; environmental degradation; loss of biodiversity; and pollution of air, soil and water.

It has become clear that the natural environment has a crucial role to play in supporting healthier urban environments, performing essential ecosystem services that allow our cities to become resilient in the face of these pressures. For example, water storage and purification, urban cooling and improving biodiversity.

Gardens are an integral part of the green infrastructure of urban areas and can contribute positively to the environmental impact of a development, providing opportunities for climate change adaptation, improved biodiversity, pollution control, and adding value to planning applications.

New homes and greener gardens

Local government and housing minister Kevin Stewart visits new homes at the Torrance Park development in Holytown, North Lanarkshire during the launch of the raingardens guide

CSGNT has partnered with house builder Taylor Wimpey, the Scottish Government, C&D Associates and Abertay University as part of a project which aims to raise awareness by promoting the benefits of raingardens both to homeowners and the wider house building industry.

The team has created a homeowners’ leaflet that encourages homeowners to consider how they might achieve a raingarden in their own garden, and how a water butt provides a useful way to conserve and use rainwater effectively as a first step towards achieving a sustainable greener garden.

Water butts are cheap and effective ways of saving water, when used properly. They cost around £40 and can save on average 160 litres of mains water per year. This water can be used for a range of outdoor purposes, such as watering gardens, washing cars or cleaning patios and decking.

To encourage homeowners to get involved and to highlight the importance that greener gardens will play in the future, Taylor Wimpey West Scotland, Scottish Government and CSGNT have joined forces to provide and install a free 200 litre water butt in the first 80 new homes at Taylor Wimpey’s new Torrance Park development. These will act as a visible reminder to residents about they need to be more aware of water use and how little changes can have a big impact on the environment.

The project partners have also installed two types of raingarden and a ‘SuDS box’ (Sustainable Urban Drainage System) at the Torrance Park development. CSGNT is monitoring the raingardens for biodiversity value, while Taylor Wimpey West Scotland is funding research by Abertay University to further investigate how source control SuDS in new housing developments can contribute to storm water management and reduce downstream flooding.

With these and other developments, CSGNT and partners are pursing ways in which innovative green infrastructure can become a more commonplace feature of our urban areas making important contributions to tackling the problems we face on both local and global scales.

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Emilie Wadsworth

Emilie Wadsworth

Heritage and biodiversity officer at the Central Scotland Green Network Trust and also provides the secretariat for the Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum

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