Importance of Domestic Garden in Supporting Urban Green Infrastructure

Importance of Domestic Garden in Supporting Urban Green Infrastructure
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Domestic gardens have been a significant component in urban green infrastructure and recent research also has highlighted its positive role in terms of eco system services [1, 2] in addition to health issues [3]. Yet, the term urban green infrastructure itself is often ill defined [21] as it covers a wide range of landscape types such as green corridors, urban forests, parks, public green space, allotments, private gardens, etc. Due to its different morphology and associated complexity, green infrastructure has posed certain problems to assess its contribution to urban planners as well. Even urbanization tends to decrease the portion of area which is dedicated to gardens [4, 5].Within this context, domestic gardens play a major role in green infrastructure [6] though less attention is given to their relative value and importance.

Carbon Balance and Energy Conservation

In the past, gardening was viewed as an environmental friendly approach. But this notion has been questioned with the evolvement of garden activities in the present scenario as today’s gardeners heavily depend on fertilizers, pesticides along with mechanized tools. As a result, carbon dynamics of the domestic garden is variable due to its available vegetation types, design and management.
In domestic gardens, an average of 2.5 × 103 g m−2 of carbon is stored with 16% in trees and shrubs, 83% in soil (to 600 mm depth) and only 0.6% on average in grass and herbaceous plants [7]. Even a less impact in terms of CO2 release has been reported in gardens that mimic low maintenance meadow landscapes, forests or follow practices aligned with permaculture principles such as low chemical use, heterogeneous vegetation, minimum soil cultivation, use of recycled water and organic matter etc [8, 9]. Although urban trees provide such environmental benefits with a significant volume of carbon, it has a minor impact compared to the storage of carbon (359 × 1015 g carbon) in the world’s forests [10].
Urban trees are one of the factors providing cooling via shade and evapo-transpiration. They are estimated to offer over 950 MJ (almost 270 kWh) cooling per day, per tree, solely due to evapo-transpiration effects [11]. Though 25% of non-woodland trees in the urban matrix account for domestic gardens [12], the extent to which domestic garden contribution to cooling is unclear. It has been predicted that up to ¼ of cooling effect by urban trees in USA cities may relate to street/garden trees which directly contribute in cooling of adjacent buildings [13]. This can vary due to species, tree size, maturity and architecture [14].


Obviously, domestic gardens will never replace natural habitats which are rich with species. Nevertheless, it can be viewed as an alternative which provides close encounters with nature to urban residents. It has been quite evident that the value of urban gardens for biodiversity may be substantial [20]. By several studies, the potential importance and enhancing ways of domestic gardens to biodiversity have been highlighted. The BUGS project for example which surveyed 61 domestic gardens in Sheffield, UK [22] confirmed that collectively such private gardens reasonably can be described as the UK’s important nature reserve. It also demonstrated that, small city centre gardens tend to support much the same invertebrate wild life compared to large suburban gardens where the isolation from countryside and the size do not seem to be a problem at all. In Toronto, Canada small field microcosms which were introduced into gardens recruited seeds, plants and invertebrates in a similar way as those placed in forest or grassland [23]. It has been reported by a recent research that gardens in Manhattan, New York, USA with flower rich patches were able to support pollinator communities as well [24].

Usage of Water

Heavy water usage is associated with domestic gardens where the potable water proportion rises with increased aridity especially during periods of dry weather. For example, in Barcelona, Spain an average of 30% of household water is consumed within the garden where it goes to 50% during summer [15]. It signals a clear indication that water usage of domestic gardens must be assessed systematically restricting potable usage of water by giving much more attention to water storage units (eg. water butts), grey water usage, efficiency of garden water usage (eg. seep hose irrigation).
Apart from that, vegetation found in domestic gardens especially trees, provide interception in precipitation while holding water temporarily within their canopy and thus reducing the peak flow [16]. Additionally, vegetation mitigates risk of floods by reducing surface flow and increasing infiltration into the soil [17]. Despite such benefits, paving in domestic gardens has been increased. It has been reported that 13% increase in impervious surfaces over 30 years in Leeds, UK where 75% was due to residential paving of front gardens [18]. This was linked with sever and frequent flooding in the particular area. From 2008, permission is required for impermeable paving as the benefits of vegetative front gardens have been recognized by the UK planning system [19].

As Therapeutic Landscapes

The domestic garden can influence on an individual’s well being and it can relate to the attitude towards gardening. Some individuals may view as a land resource for providing food and not appreciate the aesthetic nature of domestic garden. Actually, gardening encourages and provides opportunities for high physical activity. Particular studies that primarily focused on gardening and related activities highlight certain benefits such as lower blood pressure, reduced mortality, lower cholesterol level and higher bone density [25, 26]. To maximize the health benefits consistent gardening throughout the year should be encouraged. Even gardens facilitate some or all of the components identified with Attention Restoration Therapy (ART) and greatest restoration was provided by the landscapes which contained increased natural features [27].
Yet, in reality most of the individuals who garden may not be consciously aware of health issues. Hence the health scope of domestic gardener should be investigated in detail as gardening can be viewed as an antidote to associated changes of life style.


The attitude towards domestic garden is different though it is an essential component in our life style which provides an opportunity to be a part of nature. It plays a vital role in minimizing surface runoff of stormwater while providing a natural wildlife habitat in the urban environment. It also provides a platform for promotion of exercises and stress relief with linked benefits of human well being. Even new housing development schemes tend to have communal green areas by removing or providing a less private garden space for each individual. So, the potential of domestic gardens should be realized via community educational programmes especially as the current society tends to displace from nature more and more at a regular pace.


  1. de Groot, R.S., Wilson, M.A., Boumans, R.M.J., 2002. A typology for the classification, description and valuation of ecosystem functions, goods and services. Ecological Economics 41, 393–408.
  2. Tratalos, J., Fuller, R.A., Warren, P.H., Davies, R.G., Gaston, K.J., 2007. Urban form, biodiversity potential and ecosystem services. Landscape and Urban Planning 83, 308–317.
  3. Tzoulas, K., Korpela, K., Venn, S., Yli-Pelkonen, V., Kazmierczak, A., Niemela, J., James, P., 2007. Promoting ecosystem and human health in urban areas using green infrastructure: a literature review. Landscape and Urban Planning 81, 167–178.
  4. Mathieu, R., Freeman, C., Aryal, J., 2007. Mapping private gardens in urban areas using object-oriented techniques and very high-resolution satellite imagery. Landscape and Urban Planning 81, 179–192.
  5. Smith, C., 2010. London: Garden City? London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London, Greater London Authority, London, 12 p.
  6. Loram, A., Tratalos, J., Warren, P.H., Gaston, K.J., 2007. Urban domestic gardens (X): the extent & structure of the resource in five major cities. Landscape Ecology 22, 601–615.
  7. Jo, H.K., McPherson, E.G., 1995. Carbon storage and flux in urban residential greenspace. Journal of Environmental Management 45, 109–133.
  8. Pouyat, R., Groffman, P., Yesilonis, I., Hernandez, L., 2002. Soil carbon pools and fluxes in urban ecosystems. Environmental Pollution 116, S107–S118.
  9. Favoino, E., Hogg, D., 2008. The potential role of compost in reducing greenhouse gases. Waste Management Research 26, 61–69.
  10. Dixon, R.K., Brown, S., Houghton, R.A., Solomon, A.M., Trexler, M.C., Wisniewski, J., 1994. Carbon pools and flux of global forest ecosystems. Science 263, 185–191.
  11. Huang, Y.J., Akbari, H., Taha, A.A., 1990. The wind shielding and shading effects of trees on residential heating and cooling requirements. In: Proceedings of the Winter Meeting of the American Society of Heating. Refrigerating and Air- Conditioning Engineers, Inc., Atlanta, p. 22.
  12. Davies, Z.G., Fuller, R.A., Loram, A., Irvine, K.N., Sims, V., Gaston, K.J., 2009. A national scale inventory of resource provision for biodiversity within domestic gardens. Biological Conservation 142, 761–771.
  13. Akbari, H., Kurn, D.M., Bretz, S.E., Hanford, J.W., 1997. Peak power and cooling energy savings of shade trees. Energy and Buildings 25, 139–148.
  14. Simpson, J.R., 2002. Improved estimates of tree-shade effects on residential energy use. Energy and Buildings 34, 1067–1076.
  15. Domene, E., Sauri, D., 2006. Urbanisation and water consumption: influencing factors in the metropolitan region of Barcelona. Urban Studies 43, 1605–1623.
  16. Xiao, Q., McPherson, E.G., 2002. Rainfall interception by Santa Monica’s municipal urban forest. Urban Ecosystems 6, 291–302.
  17. Dunne, T., Zhang, W., Aubry, B.F., 1991. Effects of rainfall, vegetation, and microtopography on infiltration and runoff. Water Resources Research 27, 2271–2285.
  18. Perry, T., Nawaz, R., 2008. An investigation into the extent and impacts of hard surfacing of domestic gardens in an area of Leeds, United Kingdom. Landscape and Urban Planning 86, 1–13.
  19. Anon, 2009. Guidance on the Permeable Surfacing of Front Gardens. Department for Communities and Local Government, London, pp. 1–28.
  20. Vickery, M.L., 1995. Gardens: the neglected habitat. In: Pullin, A.S. (Ed.), Ecology and Conservation of Butterflies. Chapman and Hall, London, pp. 123–134.
  21. Cameron, R.W.F., Blanuša, T., Taylor, J.E., Salisbury, A., Halstead, A.J., Henricot, B., Thompson, K., 2012. The domestic garden- Its contribution to urban green infrastructure. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 11, 2, 129-137.
  22. Smith, R.M., Gaston, K.J., Warren, P.H., Thompson, K., 2006. Urban domestic gardens (VIII): environmental correlates of invertebrate abundance. Biodiversity and Conservation 15, 2515–2545.
  23. Sperling, C.D., Lortie, C.J., 2010. The importance of urban back gardens on plant and invertebrate recruitment: a field microcosm experiment. Urban Ecosystems 13, 223–235.
  24. Matteson, K.C., Langellotto, G.A., 2010. Determinates of inner city butterfly and bee species richness. Urban Ecosystems 13, 333–347.
  25. Walsh, J.M.E., Rogo-Pressman, A., Cauley, J.A., Browner, W.S., 2001. Predictors of physical activity in community-dwelling elderly white women. Journal of General Internal Medicine 16, 721–727.
  26. Milligan, C., Gatrell, A., Bingley, A., 2004. ‘Cultivating health’: therapeutic landscapes and older people in northern England. Social Science & Medicine 58, 1781–1793.
  27. Ivarsson, C.T., Hagerhall, C.M., 2008. The perceived restorativeness of gardens – assessing the restorativeness of a mixed built and natural scene type. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 7, 107–118.
Upeksha De Silva
Upeksha is a contributor at Nerdynaut Staff.
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  1. shehan

    October 25, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Modern human lifestyle is completely differ from the past. Most people try to recover their health problem with artificial stuff. But domestic gardens will be a solution for modern people to get rid of many bad healthy issues. How ever people who lives in flats can’t try this. But they can use public gardens. Any way thank you Mrs. Chathurie. you are right Domestic gardens are very important.

    • Meliza

      October 25, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Every house wife should maintain a garden

      • Niha Akram

        October 26, 2015 at 1:25 pm

        Go green

  2. parami

    October 25, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Go green is cool. I have a garden too. It’s also giving a mental healing power to me

  3. Anirudh Biliya

    October 25, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Reconnecting us to the Nature. Cool 🙂

  4. green life

    October 26, 2015 at 7:42 am

    A High Quality article. Thanks Nerdynaut

  5. steff argorado

    October 26, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Domestic Gardens, we need. it’s true. also we should protect forests

  6. Neha karka

    October 27, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Let’s look at gardening for each month through the following:
    * Reflection — reflect on the mood of that part of the
    year as expressed in our own lives in this specific location;
    * Garden Practice — see how this seasonal reflection is
    characterized by a particular garden activity or emphasis;
    * Gardening Benefit — link each month with a known
    gardening benefit that applies more particularly to the season;
    * Garden expression — discover how our resulting garden
    becomes a symbol of goals we are trying to achieve;
    * Prayer — offer an appropriate prayer to the Creator that
    reflects the gift we seek at this time of year.
    My twelve benefits of gardening fit in well with specific
    months, so I arrange this in the following order:
    January — Opportunities for year-round physical exercise;
    February — Enhancement of our eco-spirituality journey;
    March — Growth in psychological health through gardening;
    April — Better protection of the environment;
    May — Beautification of the landscape by gardening;
    June — Chance to practice resource conservation;
    July — Ensuring a higher quality of life;
    August — A training model for folks at the grassroots;
    September — Ways to improve family/neighbor bonding;
    October — Improvement of community and global relations;
    November — A powerful statement for social justice; and
    December — Economic benefits from growing your food.
    Thanks for the space

  7. Peshala

    October 29, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Good Job!!

  8. Shilpa

    October 29, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Very well written Dear Chathurie, very informative

  9. Nuwan

    October 30, 2015 at 8:33 am

    valuable article

  10. Lasitha

    December 1, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    excellent… Well done… Good job…

  11. pp

    April 18, 2016 at 3:29 am

    Thanks for a well researched article. Excellent writing skills too, which kept me reading on.
    In addition, how about the birds it attract?
    p.s. nice comments too.

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