The cheery gnome (37%) and pet graves (26%) were revealed as the most unacceptable features of a modern garden – while other items banished to the garden hall of shame included trampolines, hot tubs, statues, outdoor heaters, wendy houses, climbing frames, decking and fire pits and chimineas.
The nationwide survey of homeowners revealed that one fifth (19%) of Brits feel dread or embarrassment about their garden, with just over one in four (27%) feeling green with envy over their neighbours' gardens.
The research also revealed that nearly 70% of UK gardens are stuck in the past, with almost two thirds (65%) of homeowners admitting their outdoor space contains influences from previous decades.
The research, conducted by garden hard landscaping manufacturer, Bradstone, revealed that 52% of gardens' main features pre-date the 1990s, with 80s wooden slatted fences (39%), 60s manicured lawns (37%) and 50s concrete paths (27%) featuring most prominently as design hangovers from the past.
It seems British homeowners have been slow to adopt 21 century garden design, with contemporary features such as raised vegetable beds (9.9%), mixed native hedging (9.6%), wildlife ponds (9.5%), and artificial grass (2.8%) each present in less than 10% of gardens.
While two in five (40%) said their garden is the most important feature of their home, especially amongst 16 to 24 year olds (73%), less than a quarter of Brits are investing in their outdoor space ahead of their home. As a result, only 17% feel pride when thinking about or looking at their garden and 60% are left feeling frustrated that their garden doesn't look as good as it could.
The top three changes people would most like to make to their garden are replacing the lawn with new grass, adding or replacing fencing and adding or replacing paving.
It seems our busy lifestyles is the main stumbling block to better gardens, with more than half (57%) of homeowners avoiding making major changes to their garden because they're worried about the cost and/or work involved. Indeed, weeding, regularly mowing the lawn and making the garden beautiful all year round are the three biggest challenges facing homeowners with gardens.
Toby Stuart-Jervis, from paving manufacturer Bradstone, who commissioned the study to mark the company's 60th anniversary, says: “Whether you have a penchant for 60s inspired crazy paving or favour timber decking terraces popularised in the 1990s, your garden should be a space you enjoy, and an extension of your home. The upcoming bank holiday weekend is an excellent opportunity to get outdoors and make your garden a space to be proud of.”
Award-winning garden designer and TV presenter, Chris Beardshaw, comments: “Modern gardeners have an unprecedented range of plants to choose from – from exotic edibles to exquisite ornamentals, from all corners of the globe – all of which can pretty much be cultivated in our gardens.
“Together with easy access to technical information on how to grow plants, it is completely possible to recreate and encapsulate almost any style of garden from any point in history, and from anywhere in the world. So, gardeners simply have to decide how theatrical they want their outdoor space to be.”
But what of the garden of the future? Flowers in bloom all year round (41%), a greater presence of wildlife (37%) and flowers and plants that don't need watering (23%) are the top three things people want most. And with more than two thirds (68%) of male homeowners claiming they are responsible for mowing the lawn, perhaps it's not surprising that almost one in five would like a robot lawnmower in their garden of the future.
10 unacceptable features of a modern garden:
1. Garden gnomes
2. Pet graves
4. Hot tubs
6. Outdoor heaters
7. Wendy houses
8. Climbing frames
10. Fire pits and chimineas
10 most wanted features in a garden of the future:
1. Flowers that bloom all year round
2. A greater presence of wildlife
3. Flowers and plants that don't need watering
4. A robot lawnmower
5. Energy generating paving
6. Retractable lawn revealing a swimming pool
7. Glow-in-the-dark paving
8. Multi-purpose spaces
9. A fridge
10. Photo screens giving the impression of a larger garden