Leeds City Council has published its ‘Don’t Pave it, Save it’ guidance, which encourages residents to consider the environment and their impact on flood risk when renovating their front garden or driveway.

The hard surfacing of front gardens for parking and reduced maintenance is increasingly popular, with over a quarter of front gardens now completely paved (1), however, such changes are often made without considering the impact on the environment and flood risk to surrounding areas.

Front gardens of all sizes affect how attractive our roads and streets look, where rainwater drains to, and can protect and support local wildlife. They can help tackle climate change by capturing carbon and helping to deal with hotter and wetter weather. They can also enhance our quality of life by creating a more attractive environment.

That’s why Leeds City Council have published a web page with information on the benefits of a green front garden, as well as a range of ideas for how to create a space that allows off street parking and a space for charging electric vehicles, but is also environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing and low maintenance, whilst reducing flood risk.

Ideas include using permeable or porous materials, like asphalt or gravel, planting hardy low-growing plants between wheel tracks on driveways, using hedges instead of fences or installing raised planters.

The front garden design guidance can be found on the Leeds City Council Website.

Cllr Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s Executive member for Infrastructure and Climate, said: "Over the last twelve days, COP26 has showcased just how important it is to take action against climate change. Domestic gardens play a huge role in our urban green spaces and are a simple but important way that individuals can play a part in Leeds becoming a net zero carbon city by 2030.

"Green spaces act as natural sponges, soaking up water and helping to keep it from entering our homes. The creation of more natural flood management will assist our efforts to reduce flood risk across Leeds.

"As you only need planning permission to pave over your front garden in specific circumstances, ultimately the choice is with homeowners, and we understand that people need a place to park and charge electric vehicles, and some would prefer not to maintain a demanding garden, but we hope that our guide can help to encourage everyone to make a green choice that still meets their needs.

"As with many actions that we take to prevent damaging Climate Change, the actions of the individual might not seem important, but gardens make up about half of our urban greenspaces so if everyone does their bit then it can add up to huge results for everyone in Leeds."