Backyard gardens

Backyard gardens are private gardens that can comprise various styles of planting with different functions and use. This can include edible gardens but also designed gardens. Plantings can be minimal but also extensive depending on the style of the owner.

Name of NbS

Backyard gardens

Type of NbS



urban, periurban and rural – can work in any environment in Oceania due to planting’s ability being able to adapt to the environment and climatic conditions

Fig.2 Wong, F. (2007). Wildlife Habitat garden. Photograph. wildlife-habitat-garden-tour

Relationship to Indigenous knowledge

With issues like food security and water security in small island nations like Samoa, backyard gardens have become very important to indigenous adaptations. Indigenous knowledge has been proven to be a sustainable method for agriculture in small island nations. With local understanding, knowledge is able to be passed down when it comes to selecting disease-resistant varieties and natural solutions to minimize pest invention (Tikai, P & Kama, A 2010).

Climate change benefits
  • Indirect health
  • social, and cultural climate change impacts
  • loss of food production 

Backyard gardens also known as private gardens have the ability to contribute to urban green infrastructure. Gardens improve the surrounding network of residential properties including air cooling, helping mitigate flooding and are capable of being a habitat for wildlife (Cameron, R.W.F 2012). In terms of household benefits, they provide a food source that is very useful for smaller island nations, but they also improve environmental impacts such as insulting houses to regulate temperature extremes which leads to reducing domestic energy use (Cameron, R.W.F 2012).

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Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Biodiversity health and conservation
  • climate change adaptation
  • disaster risk reduction
  • food security and quality
  • pressures of urbanization

Backyard gardens contribute to the urban green infrastructure and most backyard gardens are usually seen in peri-urban areas due to denser residential areas in the urban zones. They are still able to provide a place for recreation and social interaction, community engagement, biodiversity and multiple ecosystem services for urban and peri-urban areas (Lin, B.B et al 2017). Local food production is a key for urban planning in order to maintain food security in response to disaster risk reduction and pressures of urbanisation (Lin, B.B et al 2017).

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Ecological and biodiversity benefits
  • Creation of a sense of place
  • education and knowledge
  • food production
  • habitat provision
  • medicinal resources
  • pollination
  • relaxation and psychological wellbeing

Backyard gardens have been researched to find the biodiversity benefits they can have specifically by planting native plants this can encourage native wildlife to be introduced into areas. A list of ecological and biodiverse benefits can be listed in the article by Christopher Raymond and others. These include but are not limited to supporting people’s connection to nature, a sense of place, a relaxing environment that reduces stress and anxiety, and habitat provision for native animals (Raymond, C 2018). Food security is a large benefit to backyard gardens and this allows access to diverse varieties of cost-effective and healthy produce (Kortright, R & Wakefield, S 2011). This provides support for community food security.

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Technical requirements

Privately owned gardens require accessibility to water availability, especially with climate change, water storage needs to be implemented for the success of backyard gardens. Being privately owned time to maintain the garden is also necessary due to most gardens using domestic plants like edible and medicinal plantings which need to be maintained so resources don’t go to seed before they are used.

Issues and Barriers

With private garden usage we face the problem of water shortages and social status a determining factor of who can afford to build and maintain private gardens. Many residential areas in urban zones do not have equitable space for the traditional garden. However, there is an opportunity to introduce other nature-based solution strategies for example green walls and roofs etc.


Due to the amount of time in managing backyard gardens, the amount of space they take up and the resources the traditional backyard garden uses there is an opportunity to look into different orientations that backyard gardens can take. With highly dense areas backyard gardens could be limited to a 2-metre square balcony so options for roof or wall systems could be taken as an option to provide food and medicinal resources.

Financial case

Research has looked at the benefits that backyard gardens can have within the residential property but also how they can contribute to the wider climate by regulating rainfall and temperatures as well as air and water quality. The biggest cost-benefit to backyard gardens though is the food security they provide. With natural disasters more common across the globe, urban agriculture is heavily relied on to enable safety in the aftermath of events like earthquakes. It was said after Hurricane Sandy that urban gardens were seen as safe places and “multi-purpose community refuges” (Shimpo, N 2019).

  • Cameron, R. W., Blanuša, T., Taylor, J. E., Salisbury, A., Halstead, A. J., Henricot, B., & Thompson, K. (2012). The domestic garden–Its contribution to urban green infrastructure. Urban forestry & urban greening11(2), 129-137.
  • Tikai, P., & Kama, A. (2010). A study of indigenous knowledge and its role in sustainable agriculture in Samoa. Ozean Journal of social sciences3(1), 65-79.
  • Raymond, C. M., Diduck, A. P., Buijs, A., Boerchers, M., & Moquin, R. (2019). Exploring the co-benefits (and costs) of home gardening for biodiversity conservation. Local Environment24(3), 258-273.
  • Kortright, R., & Wakefield, S. (2011). Edible backyards: a qualitative study of household food growing and its contributions to food security. Agriculture and Human Values28(1), 39-53.
  • Shimpo, N., Wesener, A., & McWilliam, W. (2019). How community gardens may contribute to community resilience following an earthquake. Urban forestry & urban greening38, 124-132.