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Johanna Alkan Olsson outdoors. Photo.

Johanna Alkan Olsson

Social environmental scientist

Johanna Alkan Olsson outdoors. Photo.

Gardens’ contribution to people and urban green space


  • Helena I. Hanson
  • Emma Eckberg
  • Malin Widenberg
  • Johanna Alkan Olsson

Summary, in English

Cities are experiencing numerous challenges, adversely affecting human health and wellbeing. Urban green space provides ecosystem services that are important to meet urban challenges. One type of urban green space is private gardens (yards) that make up an essential part of many urban areas. Gardens can support urban biodiversity and provide cultural ecosystem services (CES) to its owner. However, the provision of garden benefits depends on garden size, design and management. This study aims to explore private gardens contribution to urban biodiversity and garden owners’ wellbeing (in terms of CES), and to understand the influence of urban planning and garden design and management. We use a conceptual framework to illustrate complexities and interlinkages: the garden ‘human-nature’ nexus. The study is based on a garden land-use inventory and interviews with 35 garden owners in Lund, Sweden. Results show that urban development influence garden's biodiversity potential by limiting available space or garden vegetation. New properties were mainly covered by buildings and paved surfaces and their small gardens contained few biodiversity features and large trees. Garden owners used multiple information channels to gain inspiration and knowledge, and aesthetic and edibility are important plant qualities governing garden plant choice. Many garden owners experienced gardens problems that influence design and management. The most important garden CES were social bonds, recreation, nature experiences and relaxation. Age and gender influence both garden CES and garden design and management. We conclude that private gardens have a potential to function as multifunctional spaces, but to harness their full potential there is a need to transform how we plan, develop, manage and not at least recognize private green space. We argue that the garden ‘human-nature’ nexus can help to illustrate the important interlinkages existing between e.g. urban planning, biodiversity and garden ES, and to foster sustainable urban green space governance.


  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year





Urban Forestry and Urban Greening



Document type

Journal article




  • Biological Sciences


  • Cultural ecosystem services
  • Garden design
  • Green space governance
  • Nexus
  • Private gardens
  • Urban planning




  • Nature-based Solutions for Urban Challenges


  • ISSN: 1618-8667