Show me your garden and I will tell you how sustainable you are: Dutch citizens’ perspectives on conserving biodiversity and promoting a sustainable urban living environment through domestic gardening

This paper focuses on Dutch perspectives on the issue of gardening for biodiversity and sustainable urban environments. A semi-qualitative survey based on multiple choice, open, and visual questions were conducted with a representative sample of the Dutch population (N = 517). The aim of the survey was to get a better insight into the way Dutch domestic gardens contribute to urban sustainability and biodiversity conservation. Cultural Theory was used as a heuristic framework for survey design and analysis. The results show that the Dutch population is best represented by the Egalitarian and the Hierarchist perspectives. The Egalitarian perspective has strong ecological ideals, but these ideals are not reflected in how most of them design and maintain their gardens in practice. There seems to be a strong cognitive dissonance in the relation between a majority of the Dutch garden owners and the design and maintenance of their gardens. Only a small group of people with an Autonomous perspective is able to bring their high ecological ideals into practice in their yards. The Individualist perspective group has least ideological and practical concern for gardening, sustainability and biodiversity. The results have been discussed in the context of global goals for sustainable cities and biodiversity, as reflected in the Aichi targets and the Sustainable Development Goals. The paper intends to provide policymakers and urban planners with levers to experiment with incentives to bridge gaps between private space and public interests (the public/private dilemma).