The increasing process of urbanisation has major implications for the environment, biodiversity, and health and well-being of urban residents. Empirical evidence for urban greening benefits suggests that it is an appropriate planning and policy approach for tackling some of the problems associated with urbanisation, including biodiversity loss and heat island effects. Gardens on private residential lots represent a substantial proportion of greenspaces in low density cities with extensive suburban areas. Drawing on a qualitative study of residents in Sunshine North, Melbourne, Australia, this paper discusses three questions about the relationship of private gardens to public greenspaces:
1) how does residents’ use of private gardens impact their use of other neighbourhood greenspaces;
2) can private gardens address inequality of access to greenspaces in lower income neighbourhoods; and, 3) what does this imply for planning and neighbourhood design?
Contrary to previous research, the findings did not show a meaningful relationship between residents’ use of their gardens and local greenspaces, and further, that large yards and gardens do not substitute for poor access to local greenspaces. The paper concludes that policy makers and planners cannot assume private gardens and public greenspaces are interchangeable. While private gardens and local greenspaces can both provide positive benefits to residents, private gardens do not act as a substitute for local greenspaces in neighbourhoods of varying socio-economic status.