Given that so much of the biodiversity of gardens is in the smaller invertebrates, it’s worth noting that for a creature only a few millimetres in length, even a tiny garden must seem enormous. Jennifer Owen’s garden is 741m2, which is nearly four times the national average of 190m2 but not much above the normal range for detached houses . This unexceptional garden was estimated to hold upwards of 8,450 species of insects alone8.
Let’s turn this myth around. It’s great if you're lucky enough to have a big garden, and you can do lots for wildlife in it. But if you have only a small garden, it will still be stuff-full of biodiversity and a source of fascination and pleasure.
1. Smith, R.M., Gaston, K.J., Warren, P.H. & Thompson, K. 2005. Urban domestic gardens (V): relationships between landcover composition, housing and landscape. Landscape Ecology 20, 235-253. Available here
2. Bates AJ, Sadler JP, Grundy D, Lowe N, Davis G, et al. (2014) Garden and Landscape-Scale Correlates of Moths of Differing Conservation Status: Significant Effects of Urbanization and Habitat Diversity. PLoS ONE 9(1): e86925.
3. Smith, R.M., Warren, P.H., Thompson, K. & Gaston, K.J. 2006. Urban domestic gardens (VI): environmental correlates of invertebrate species richness. Biodiversity and Conservation 15, 2415-2438. Available here
4. Dr Ken Thompson : personal communication
5. Thompson, K., Hodgson, J.G., Smith, R.M., Warren, P.H. & Gaston, K.J. 2004. Urban domestic gardens (III): Composition and diversity of lawn floras. Journal of Vegetation Science 15, 371-376. Available here
6. Goddard MA, Dougill AJ, Benton TG. 2010 . Scaling up from gardens: Biodiversity conservation in urban environments . Trends in Ecology and Evolution 25: 90–98. Available here
7. Loram, A., Tratalos, J., Warren, P.H. & Gaston, K.J. 2007. Urban domestic gardens (X): the extent & structure of the resource in five cities. Landscape Ecology 22, 601-615 Abstract here
8. Owen, J. 2010 Wildlife of a garden: a thirty-year study. RHS Media
Page drafted by Steve Head: Reviewed by Ken Thompson