Research from the University of Sheffield has called on the government to offer financial rewards for gardeners in a bid to tackle the climate crisis. 

The study carried out by Professor Ross Cameron says that policymakers should consider incentives like cuts to council taxes and water bills to households which cover over 50% of their outdoor space in plants. 

Professor Cameron said: “Gardens account for a third of all our urban areas and are vital spaces in terms of keeping our buildings and city environments cool in summer, absorbing rain to avoid flash flooding and providing an important refuge for wildlife. 

“Gardens need to be green and full of plants to be beneficial to the local environment, and some types of garden are more beneficial than others.”

The research in the study Urban Forestry and Urban Greening says that some cities may have lost up to 50% of their garden space over the last two decades, contributing to global warming.

Professor Cameron added: “The paradox is that many gardens are not actually green and some trends in garden design can be very damaging for the urban environment. We have paved them over to house the car, or provide sterile patio space; factors that increase urban temperatures and increase flooding risk.”

Local gardener, Will Teare from Norton Lees, has turned his garden into a place for both wildlife and his family to enjoy.

Mr Teare said: “When we moved into our house, we thought about how we could create a garden that would help us be more connected to nature, so the most important thing for us has been that it benefits wildlife.

“Humans are responsible for a lot of the loss of habitat for wildlife and we wanted to invite it back into the garden.” 

Mr Teare also spoke about how his family are enjoying their new garden. 

He said: “The family gets a lot of enjoyment out of it, the birds coming to nest, or watching the frogs and newts around the pond; it brings the garden to life, and is a source of excitement for the kids.”

“I think like us, everyone can work with what space they have, have a small tree, unusual plants, or create different habitats; basically anything other than hard paving can be an asset to wildlife, and benefits us as well.

“So I think incentives to plant a garden will definitely get people to think about it!”

Professor Cameron is writing a book on how introducing plants into your life can have long term benefits to your health. 

The book is called ‘How plants can save your life’ and will be published by Quercus on 25 May 2023.