A garden must be a living, vibrant place and it stops being so when fake plants replace real ones. A frightening number of people buy pretend shrubs, planters and hedges, presumably because they must totally control their garden and their lumps of decorated plastic will also entail no maintenance other than occasional dusting.

I could happily spend the rest of this column ranting against this incomprehensible **** and those who buy into it but will turn the spotlight on another and seemingly less ridiculous folly: fake lawns. The long, dry spell has done terrible things to the grass as my distraught geese will tell you. But it’s better for them to nibble some extra corn than yank at shreds of green plastic.

And if you don’t graze your lawn, you’ll see it recover and regrow naturally. It’s much better to thole a bit of unsightliness than replace one brief desert with a permanent plastic one. But whether your lawn is a monotonous emerald green or a more natural mix of grasses, the plants appeal to many forms of life.

A report published last year estimated that the U.K. had lost approximately 50% of its biodiversity since the 1970s, making it the most environmentally-impoverished state in Europe. So as gardeners, we should want to support the biodiversity of life in our gardens, not create large dead swathes of ground.

Like all other plants, our lawns sequester carbon and undisturbed soil beneath locks in CO2, so a living lawn is always beneficial to the environment. It also cools its surroundings unlike plastic which becomes too hot to walk on barefoot.

Plastic lawns have a huge carbon footprint, whatever manufacturers may claim. Unlike grass seed, the carbon cost of production is considerable and after a number of years the ‘lawn’ will be lifted and consigned to landfill. Even if at some point in the future, it becomes possible to recycle the material, the carbon cost of production remains.

As a plastic cover ages, large quantities of micro plastic break off and are washed into waterways.

A study conducted by the EU in 2018 estimated that this run-off amounted to four million tonnes across Europe. Many sea creatures inadvertently consume this poison and the problem will only increase if more people replace real with fake.

Plant of the week

Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ is a hardy Euphorbia happy to grow in full sun or partial shade. The dark green foliage is evergreen and the orange red stems deepen in colour in late summer after the brick red involucres (“flowers”) fade. A useful plant for a hot coloured border - dramatic in its own right and a great foil for yellow and orange flowers.