Comparing the characteristics of front and back domestic gardens in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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Daniels, G and Kirkpatrick, JB, Comparing the characteristics of front and back domestic gardens in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, Landscape and Urban Planning, 78, (4) pp. 344-352. ISSN 0169-2046 (2006) [Refereed Article]
In Australia, suburban front gardens have been said to be for show, while back gardens have been thought to be used more productively. This pattern may have changed as a result of a change in the ways that western suburbanites use and value their gardens. In 107 gardens in 10 suburbs of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, data on the floristic composition, structural characteristics and some use attributes were collected from front and back yards. The floristic data were used to classify the yards into types, many of which preferentially occurred in either front or back. Back yards preferentially containing food plant taxa, and had a larger proportion of lawn, dogs and chicken coops, while front yards preferentially contained showy and screening plant taxa, and had relatively high small shrub cover. However, in a large proportion of properties, the garden type in the front yard was the same as the type in the back yard. In another large proportion of properties the front yard was gardened more intensively than the back, indicating a desire to impress, but the back yard was not used for productive purposes. These gardens preferentially occurred in the older suburbs, while gardens that were showier in the back than the front were negatively correlated with the unemployment rate. In a relatively small proportion of properties showy gardens were located in the front yard, while productive gardens were located in the back yard. The prevalence of these gardens had no relationships with suburb characteristics. The wide variety of garden types, and of their combinations in back and front yards, both within and between suburbs, indicate a complexity not reducible to simple aphorisms. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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