History of the Front Garden Awards

The Front Garden Awards (formerly known as the Front Garden Competition) is an annual event which encompasses all the Grid streets. It was started by the Southfields Grid Residents’ Association (SGRA) in 1979 and has been a summer feature, albeit intermittently, since then. The first name on the silver platter, which is awarded to the overall winner who keeps it for a year was Mrs. Josey (1979/80). Regrettably, the platter was lost at some point and then ‘found’ in 2011. The SGRA is proud to be involved in this resurrected community event and we hope it will continue uninterrupted. 

In the last few years, the FGA has become a joint venture between the SGRA and the Green the Grid (GTG) group which is an offspring of the SGRA.  

In 2020, as last year, we have two categories for our FGA.

Best Front Gardens. Last year, 2019, we handed out over 200 bronze,  silver, and gold awards in the front garden category. This award system began in 2018 as we wanted to recognise, encourage, and reward more people who have put both time and effort into greening their front gardens. Our front gardens, like many across London, may be small, but the capital’s estimated 1.8 million front gardens cover approx. 9,400 hectares and therefore make a big contribution to our environmental and aesthetic wellbeing. They also provide an important habitat for urban wildlife. 

Best Front Gardens: this year we will be continuing with the bronze, silver and gold awards. A front garden can be a window ledge, pots, and containers, hanging baskets, a small space outside your front door – so not just a traditional plot. We appreciate all the different ways of greening a garden. Certificates (different colours for bronze, silver, and gold) on stakes will be placed in front gardens to reward the gardeners. Gold recipients will be eligible to receive the overall Best Front Garden Award. There will be one overall winner and two runners up. The overall winner will be awarded a garden voucher prize of £25, as well as having their name engraved on a silver platter which they will be loaned for a year. The two runners up will each receive £15 worth of garden vouchers. 

The other category is Best Street planting which used to be known as ’Guerrilla Gardening.’ This title was originally given to gardening public land without permission. Times have changed! GTG were given some funding from Wandsworth Council in 2019 to green the tree bases surrounding the borough’s street trees. People have continued to care for their chosen tree bases. There are colourful, well-tended and wildlife friendly flowers and shrubs to be seen in tree pits across the grid. 

Best Street Planting: this is where the best tree-based planting plot in each street will be recognised. This links in the Green the Grid street planting days we have had over the last few years.  Residents have been able to make their own green space – whether it be a herb patch, a butterfly garden, or a beautiful patch of flowers. Planting street tree bases also means that trees will be watered more regularly too. We will acknowledge the best planted tree base in each street by putting a special certificate around the tree.    

Judging for both above categories will take place between 

Saturday, 27, June until Saturday, 11, July 

Nobody needs to sign up for this event as everyone on the Grid is automatically included. 

‘Spectacular Sunflowers of Southfields’. This is our wonderful ‘fun’ event. Started last year we have decided to repeat it.  Green the Grid have been kindly distributing free sunflowers seeds to be planted in front gardens and tree bases throughout the Grid.   We want to make the Grid a neighbourhood brimming with amazing, yellow sunflowers!  The most spectacular sunflowers in each street will be given a special certificate sometime in late summer – date tbd.

So, please continue digging, pruning, planting, attracting wildlife and gardening! We look forward to seeing lots of delightful gardens, street tree bases and sunflowers galore!

Frequently Asked Questions.

Why do we have Front Garden Awards?  

We recognise the important contribution that front garden plant cover provides for flood protection, wildlife habitats, shade, and cooling during periods of hot weather, the alleviation of air pollution, the character and identity of our streets and for our overall wellbeing. Paving and concreting front gardens also makes houses more prone to subsidence which affects a number of Grid homes. We believe that having a Front Garden Awards event is not only a great way to encourage people to garden and grow plants but also to reward some tremendous efforts and amazing gardens across the grid. 

What are we looking for when judging front gardens?

This is a good question! The judges do not have a tick list approach, so it is not prescriptive.  Here are some broad indicators as to what the judges will be evaluating

Visual Appeal: We are looking for a ‘pleasing garden’ which leaves the onlooker with an overall visual impact and a feeling of wellbeing; a satisfying sense of harmony of scale, colour, scent and texture. 

Design: a good use of space and design coordination between plants and other elements. Choosing plants that have the added benefit of helping wildlife to thrive is always a positive.

Sense of care: a well-tended garden. The quality of care in pruning and weed and disease control. 

Originality: Something that makes the garden unique, catches the eye and makes it linger. The feeling that you want to see more of this garden. A ‘wow’ factor. 

Remember a ‘garden’ need not be a traditional plot – it can be a collection of pots, window boxes and hanging baskets – something that will make even a hard-surfaced garden softer. 

Who judges the Front Garden Awards?

The judging panel comprises of Grid residents (six in total) from both the SGRA and Green the Grid – it is joint effort. All the judges are keen gardeners, and some have won prizes in past Front Garden Award events. Nobody on the judging panel can win any prizes in the FGA but, they can be awarded a bronze, silver or gold award if it is warranted. Good garden role models will always be acknowledged. Each judge is responsible for judging their allocated streets for front gardens, best planted tree bases and Spectacular Sunflowers of Southfields. Sometimes, judges will pair up to make their assessments. All gardens allocated a gold award are assessed by the whole judging panel so that we have a winner and two runners up.  

If you have any other questions, please let us know and we will do our best to answer them. Thank you.