Garden designer Zoe Claymore is on a mission to show that gardening isn’t just for homeowners. Her goal is to make “your outdoor space into a meaningful place.” She designs easy-to-use garden layouts for renters who want to spruce up their space.
Renters are often discouraged or forbidden from gardening in their lots. Similarly to how your landlord may not want you to drill holes in your walls, they also may not want you messing with the backyard.
This idea that renters should be barred from gardening not only discourages them from taking ownership of their outdoor space, it also hurts our environment. Bare gardens can be harmful to the environment compared to lush gardens.
Lush gardens offer a habitat for wildlife, reduce flooding, and clean the air. Gardens are also a lot more beautiful to look at: a win-win for everyone. There is even scientific evidence showing that people who take care to decorate their homes and gardens are happier than those who don’t.
In Claymore’s native city of London, 50% of people are renters. In America, 34% of households are comprised of renters. And as it becomes increasingly difficult to enter the home-owning class, renters need this opportunity to call their space home.
For some renters, the garden is an afterthought, and for others, it’s too much of a hassle. Claymore is working to fight that idea, imploring renters and landlords to “let their tenants garden and provide them with the means to do so.”
Claymore explained this “indoor-outdoor dichotomy” in which renters are not empowered to improve their outdoor spaces for themselves and for the environment.
As a solution to this issue, Claymore designs flat-pack raised beds (think: Ikea furniture, but for planter boxes) and portable ponds, which prove that outdoor furniture can be just as mobile as the indoor kind.
Claymore showed her Renters’ Retreat garden at the Hampton Court Palace garden festival, where it won a prize. To design it, Claymore used plants that are common and durable, so first-time gardeners don’t need to fret about killing their plants.
Renters’ Retreat was inspired by her time as a tenant when she was unable to plant flowers. It is an example of a beautiful and calming garden that can be grown even in small, shady courtyards.
Claymore is providing a simple way to connect with nature without having to go on a wilderness retreat.
Craig Bennett of the Wildlife Trusts agrees with Claymore, telling the Guardian that “[Gardening] is one of the easiest, most direct ways for people to connect with nature. It’s important not only for wildlife but for the relationship between people and nature recovery as well.”
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