Germany bans horror gardens

MAGDEBURG, Germany: Germany’s leading horticultural media outlet Taspo brings the news that the Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt has announced its plans to ban the use of gravel in front gardens. Reasons cited include gravel’s negative impact on the environment and rainwater management.

In Germany, some call them ‘Gärten des Grauens’, the horror gardens. It is not the most flattering nickname for a front garden where a minimalist gravel landscape has replaced the sod.
Saxony-Anhalt’s decision to ban follows the example of Baden-Württemberg’s amendment to the State Nature Conservation Act, which prohibits front yard gravel landscapes by law come 2021.

Government officials stress that despite the common belief, gravel is not low maintenance nor environmentally friendly. Gravel stores more heat from the sun and this can increase the temperature of the area. This extra heat may also lead to increased cooling costs if the gravel landscape is near an indoor living space.

Lawmakers have calculated that gravelled over surfaces heat up to 70˚C in summer when the outside temperature is 30 ˚C, and there is lots of direct sunlight.

What is more, lawmakers say, a minimalist gravel landscape, frequently featuring no more than one specimen tree, does not contribute to more biodiversity as it enables plants and animals to thrive in it.

Sealed off front gardens by gravel also increase the risk of flooding. Rainwater cannot seep into the ground during a heavy downpour and can, under certain circumstances, lead to the sewerage system overflowing.

In Saxony-Anhalt, the Green Party and its coalition partners in the state parliament voted against gravel in front gardens because they will not contribute to more human and liveable cities. The decision, they say, was also in response to the wishes of numerous local authorities in the state, as the original state building code did not contain any provision that they could impose local level bans.

The law enters vigour from 2021 and will only apply to newly created areas. However, the Party hopes to set an example and that the new law will encourage garden owners to redesign their front gardens if necessary.

Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Württemberg are currently taking the lead in promoting more sustainable front gardens. Similar law propositions are in discussion in the state parliaments in the federal states of Thuringia and Saxony. In cities such as Bremen and Hamburg, there is also a ban on gravel landscapes by state nature conservation legislation. At the same time, in Bavaria, there is a partial ban on gravel sites, for example in the cities of Erlangen and Würzburg. So far, there are no plans to change the nature conservation law in Lower Saxony, Berlin, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein.

Source: Taspo Online.

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