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Environ Manage. 2008 Sep;42(3):361-76. doi: 10.1007/s00267-008-9097-3. Epub 2008 Apr 25.

Urban domestic gardens (XIV): the characteristics of gardens in five cities.

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Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK.


Domestic gardens make substantial contributions to the provision of green space in urban areas. However, the ecological functions provided by such gardens depend critically on their configuration and composition. Here, we present the first detailed analysis of variation in the composition of urban gardens, in relation to housing characteristics and the nature of the surrounding landscape, across different cities in the United Kingdom. In all five cities studied (Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leicester, and Oxford), garden size had an overwhelming influence on garden composition. Larger gardens supported more of the land-use types recorded, in greater extents, and were more likely to contain particular features, including tall trees and mature shrubs, areas of unmown grass and uncultivated land, vegetable patches, ponds, and composting sites. The proportional contribution of non-vegetated land-uses decreased as garden area increased. House age was less significant in determining the land-use within gardens, although older houses, which were more likely to be found further from the urban edge of the city, contained fewer hedges and greater areas of vegetation canopy >2 m in height. Current UK government planning recommendations will ultimately reduce the area of individual gardens and are thus predicted to result in fewer tall trees and, in particular, less vegetation canopy >2 m. This might be detrimental from ecological, aesthetic, social, and economic stand points.

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