Volunteers get planting. Photograph: Gerry Tissier

Homerton residents had a smashing time last Saturday as they lifted up paving slabs and knocked down brick walls to make space for nature.

Dozens of neighbours and volunteers joined forces for ‘Nature is Smashing’, a depaving event organised by Friends of the Earth’s 10xGreener project, which wants to beautify neighbourhoods across the country.

Kate Poland, who became E5’s postcode gardener last year after a fundraising campaign by 10xGreener, was on hand as locals came out in the February sunshine to break up lifeless grey spaces and add more greenery.

Postcode gardener Kate Poland (left) shows off the new herb garden on Redwald Road. Photograph: Gerry Tissier

Armed with pick-axes, crowbars and sledgehammers, volunteers broke up concrete front yards, brick walls and paving slabs.

Along Daubeney Road, they prised off patio slabs outside one house to create a chessboard pattern alternating between nature and concrete.

Just up the street, a garden wall was demolished to make way for a hedge.

And on surrounding roads, neighbours lifted off loose bricks, chiselled out holes and dug up earth gullies for planting.

Two pavement slabs were removed at the top of Redwald Road and replaced with frames – one filled with sand for burrowing bees, the other planted with sweet-smelling herbs.

A metal grid protects the micro-habitats from being trampled on.

Eyes on the prise: The team spruces up a brick wall.
Photograph: Gerry Tissier

Kate said: “We had a fantastic time smashing it up in E5. The event was a great way to meet people and get some exercise as well as create more green spaces.

“Around 40 per cent of garden space in London is now paved over and more of the capital’s open spaces are being covered in concrete.”

Hackney’s environment chief Cllr Jon Burke tweeted his support for the event, saying it “fills me with joy”.

Kate added: “Less green space means less food and shelter for wildlife and high summer temperatures for humans and animals alike.

“Flooding is also more likely as rainwater is not absorbed by soil and plants.

“We can help the environment by depaving our gardens and streets and letting nature do the rest.”

To find out more about 10xGreener, head to friendsoftheearth.uk

Catch up on Kate’s new gardening column for the Citizen here

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