The use of gravel or rocks in landscaping has grown in popularity in recent years. But they are an environmental disaster.
Some see it as a modern and clean option, others appreciate the ease of maintenance. But environmental organizations lament the recent trend as a disaster.
“This is a loss of habitat for soil creatures, for plants and insects. It is an absurd situation considering that we are in a biodiversity crisis and that every square meter of natural habitat account”, says Michelle Schaltz, head of biodiversity at the Ecological Movement.
Many municipalities have banned gray gardens, demanding that a space be reserved for greenery with any new construction, renovation or new building permission in the garden. In Bettembourg, this has been the case since 2019.
“33% of the area must be green. It means an area that has vegetation and allows the passage of water. For houses over 7 meters wide, half of the land must be vegetated. ” said Josée Lorsché, alderman of Bettembourg.
In most cases, there is no problem explaining the rules to residents, Lorsché says. A resident who wishes to remain anonymous, however, deplored a lack of communication on the part of the council. He had previously obtained permission for his project, but once the work was completed, he suddenly received a written warning, including photos. The redevelopment cost him 8,000 euros.
Bettembourg is currently discussing what Bertrange put in place some time ago: grants for the renaturation of these lands.
They want to avoid bans, says Patrick Michels of the Bertrange Council. “Everyone can choose whether or not to install a gravel garden. But we want to encourage people to leave as much green as possible, and also reduce the existing sealed areas.“
There are three different grants, from 100 to 300 euros. This can be doubled if more than 50% of the area is devoted to vegetation.
There are many alternatives to gravel – especially those that support animal life.
“If you absolutely must have mineral substrates like gravel in your front yard, you can sow a special flower mix underneath, which gives you a kind of ‘dry grass’ that is very easy to maintain. The plants are very diverse and you only need to mow it once a year, max ”, specifies Michelle Schaltz of the Ecological Movement.
It remains to be seen whether these initiatives can help reverse the trend.