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Sustainability at RHS Urban Show

RHS’s first, large scale indoor gardening show ‘Urban’, aimed at those who live in cities and towns with limited or no outdoor growing space had an emphasis on sustainability. Highlighting some of the best ways to be environmentally friendly even in urban settings.

RHS logo at RHS Urban Show

One exhibit was supplied by GreenBlue Urban, demonstrating the negative impact of paved gardens and presenting viable alternatives and solutions.

Demonstration of water passing through permeable paving

Top Ten Impacts of Paved Gardens 

  1. Increased rainwater runoff and increased risk of flooding.

  2. Poor water quality, as rainwater is no longer filtered by planting and soil.

  3. Increased rainwater runoff can overwhelm sewers and lead to overflows.

  4. Increased urban temperatures.

  5. Poor air quality, as dust and pollutants are no longer trapped and absorbed by planting.

  6. Loss of wildlife habitat and feeding grounds.

  7. Poor soil health, as it cuts off organic matter, such as leaves, which help add nutrients to the soil.

  8. Reduced gardening impacts physical wellbeing.

  9. Reduced access to greenspace impacts mental wellbeing.

  10. Can cause subsidence issues, due to soil shrinking under paving, this can impact property values.

 permeable paving blocks

Paving Solutions Top Tips

  • ‘Unpave’ your garden - pull up paving that you no longer require and only use paving to create wheel tracks and passageways rather than paving over the entire garden.


  • Use permeable paving - use alternatives such as permeable block paving, permeable resin bound paving and reinforced grass. A bonus of using a permeable paving in your front garden is that you do not need planning permission.

  • Revalue your rainwater - rainwater butts are a great way to capture, store and reuse water, which in turn decreases water usage and rainwater runoff. Plants prefer rainwater too.


  • Get creative and use sustainable drainage (SuDS) methods. These are drainage methods that mimic natural processes and help to reduce the volume and speed of rainfall runoff from hard surfaces by intercepting, capturing, storing and draining rainwater. This helps to slow the flow of rainwater and filters pollutants before water enters sewers and rivers. Rain gardens and downspouts planters are excellent sustainable drainage methods to use in your garden.

up-cycled cartons with microgreens


Another prominent trend for the environmental conscience seen at RHS Urban was up-cycling. Milk and juice cartons were re-purposed as miniature indoor planters for microgreens, and larger containers for oyster mushrooms.

Buckets used for growing mushrooms

Microgreens are perfect for beginners, they are a nutrient-rich superfood you can grow in as little as a week. Oyster mushrooms take a little longer, with growth taking about 5-6 weeks. But when grown symbiotically they exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide which improves growth for both.



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