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Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 189–199 | Cite as

Effects of garden management practices, by different types of gardeners, on human wellbeing and ecological and soil sustainability in Swiss cities

  • Robert HomeEmail author
  • Olivia Lewis
  • Nicole Bauer
  • Andreas Fliessbach
  • David Frey
  • Stéphanie Lichtsteiner
  • Marco Moretti
  • Simon Tresch
  • Christopher Young
  • Andrea Zanetta
  • Matthias Stolze
Article
  • 140 Downloads

Abstract

Gardens have effects on the local ecology as well as on the wellbeing of the gardener, but few studies have attempted to study gardens using both ecological and social outcome variables. The aim of this exploratory study is to address this research gap by identifying the characteristics of gardens and the management practices of gardeners that enhance the outcomes of gardening, which we separate into three dimensions: human wellbeing, biodiversity, and soil quality. Data were collected from 18 gardens in Zurich, Switzerland and a typology of gardeners was identified, which included ‘conservationist’, ‘functional’, ‘minimum effort’, ‘child-friendly’, and ‘aesthetic’ gardeners. The conservationist gardeners were found to have, on average, the highest species richness in their gardens, while the minimum effort gardeners had the lowest, which suggests that some degree of management can enhance species richness. The conservationist and minimum effort gardeners had, on average, the highest values for stable aggregates, while the minimum effort gardeners had the highest phosphorous content in their soil. The wellbeing of the minimum effort gardeners was lower than the other groups, which suggests it is the act of gardening, rather than merely having a garden, which leads to wellbeing outcomes. The results suggest that ecologically friendly gardening is compatible with desired social outcomes and furthermore that the beneficial effects of gardens are indeed related to the practices implemented by the gardeners, which are influenced by their attitudes towards gardening and the role of gardens in their lives.

Keywords

Gardening Wellbeing Species richness Soil quality Management practices Gardener typology 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Sinergia fund of the Swiss National Science Foundation. We are also grateful to the many students who assisted with the data collection and to the 18 gardeners who generously gave up their privacy by opening their gardens to the very many visits by researchers over the course of this project. The study was conducted in compliance with all relevant ethical requirements in Switzerland.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Home
    • 1
    Email author
  • Olivia Lewis
    • 1
  • Nicole Bauer
    • 2
  • Andreas Fliessbach
    • 1
  • David Frey
    • 2
  • Stéphanie Lichtsteiner
    • 1
  • Marco Moretti
    • 2
  • Simon Tresch
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christopher Young
    • 2
  • Andrea Zanetta
    • 2
  • Matthias Stolze
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)FrickSwitzerland
  2. 2.Federal Research Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research (WSL)BirmensdorfSwitzerland

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