Domestic gardens in Sheffield, England provide biodiversity and wildlife habitat.
(2005) Biological Conservation Volume 129, Issue 3, May 2006, Pages 312–322. Garden floras interact with native biodiversity by providing resources for wildlife and by acting as a source of non-native species. Understanding the composition and richness of garden floras will help evaluate the relationships between these floras and the wider environment. The composition and richness of vascular plant floras were measured in a stratified sample of 61 urban, domestic gardens in Sheffield, UK, based on complete garden inventories. The entire garden flora contained 1166 species, of which 30% were native and 70% alien. Across gardens, aliens showed lower occupancy than natives, comprising 79% of the species recorded only once. The garden flora contained 146 plant families, which included 72% of the native, naturalised or recurrent casual families recorded in the wild in Britain and Ireland. Gardens contained on average 45% natives, irrespective of garden size. Garden area explained 30% of the variation in species richness within individual gardens.
Doubling garden size led to an increase in species richness of 25%. The garden flora comprised 10% annuals, 63% biennial/perennials, 18% shrubs and 8% trees; shrubs were disproportionately composed of alien species. The floras of urban domestic gardens probably form the greatest source of potentially invasive alien plants. However, the plants found in domestic gardens have closer affinities with the uncultivated flora than is often perceived, and their role for wildlife in gardens deserves reassessment. Declines in garden size that result from recommendations on the density of new housing are unlikely to have major consequences for plant richness in gardens.