Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 14, pp 3327–3349 | Cite as

Urban Domestic Gardens (IV): The Extent of the Resource and its Associated Features

  • Kevin J. GastonEmail author
  • Philip H. Warren
  • Ken Thompson
  • Richard M. Smith


Domestic (‘private’) gardens constitute a substantial proportion of ‘green space’ in urban areas and hence are of potential significance for the maintenance of biodiversity in such areas. However, the size and nature of this resource and its associated features are poorly known. In this study, we provide the first detailed audit, using domestic gardens in the city of Sheffield as a model study system. Domestic gardens, the mean area of which was 151 m2, cover approximately 33 km2 or 23% of the predominantly urban area of the city. The smaller gardens contribute disproportionately to this total because, although individually they add little, they are large in number. Conversely, the regions of the city with proportionately more garden area contribute most to the total garden area of the city, although such regions are limited in number. Based on the findings of a telephone based survey, 14.4% of dwellings with gardens were estimated to have ponds, 26% to have nest-boxes, 29% to have compost heaps, 48% to hold trees more than 3 m tall, and 14% of dwellings were estimated to be home to one or more cats. Whilst the absolute frequency of these features is low to moderate, by extrapolation they nonetheless yield estimates for domestic gardens in Sheffield of a total of 25,200 ponds, 45,500 nest boxes, 50,750 compost heaps, 360,000 trees, and a population of 52,000 domestic cats. These results are considered in the context of the role of gardens in urban areas as habitats for wildlife and the implications for housing policy.


Biodiversity Domestic gardens Green space Housing Land use Urbanisation 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin J. Gaston
    • 1
    Email author
  • Philip H. Warren
    • 1
  • Ken Thompson
    • 1
  • Richard M. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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