Home, Robert, Olivia Lewis, Nicole Bauer, Andreas Fliessbach, David Frey, Stéphanie Lichtsteiner, Marco Moretti, Simon Tresch, Christopher Young, Andrea Zanetta, & Matthias Stolze (2018). Effects of garden management practices, by different types of gardeners, on human wellbeing and ecological and soil sustainability in Swiss cities. Urban Ecosystems. (ePub in advance of print) (doi: 1-11. 10.1007/s11252-018-0806-2) (Link: https://www.dora.lib4ri.ch/wsl/islandora/object/wsl:18563>

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.

Robert Home <robert.home@fibl.org> is in the Departement für Sozioökonomie, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FIBL), Frick, Switzerland.

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