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Brits swap horticulture for hot tubs

Homeowners are spending thousands of pounds transforming their outdoor spaces into luxury havens, but spend little time actually gardening, according to new research.

Brits spent an average of £894 on outdoor furniture and decorations during the past 12 months.

One in 10 households now owns a hot tub and 8 per cent have a summer house.

Meanwhile, 22 per cent have invested in a trampoline and playground features such as swings and slides to keep their children entertained.

With costly garden furniture and accessories increasingly common, the average UK garden is now worth £1,928, according to the research by home insurance provider Lloyds TSB.

Sales of plants decline

But while luxury outdoor items and garden furniture have increased in popularity, sales of outdoor plants have declined.

A study by the Garden Centre Association recorded a 15 per cent decline in sales of outdoor plants between January and June 2012.

Frances Tophill, presenter of ITV1's Love Your Garden, linked the decline in plant sales to time-strapped homeowners.

Tophill said: "As homeowners become too time-poor for gardening, features like decking, summer houses and leisure items have moved into prime position in our back gardens.

"I hope the traditional image of the flower-filled Great British garden is not beginning to wilt."

Homeowners fail to protect gardens against theft

Despite homeowners investing heavily in their gardens, nearly half aren't taking appropriate steps to protect the contents within it, says Lloyds.

Approximately 12.5 million homeowners – or 44 per cent - either have no home insurance or are unsure whether or not they are adequately covered.

Lloyds TSB Insurance spokesman Tim Downes said: "It is a false economy to invest in luxury garden items without ensuring they are covered.

"As our gardens grow increasingly expensive, homeowners are realising that they no longer own just a few pounds worth of petunias, but hundreds of pounds' worth of leisure items."

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