PhD Funding: Greening the grey to beat the blues

Image: © RHS / Tim Sandall

The Department of Landscape has won a research contract from the Royal Horticultural Society to investigate the influence of gardens on human health and well-being. The project is part of the RHS’s Greening Grey Britain Initiative.

The research will largely focus on front gardens as these have impact on not only the house owners but also passers-by. Over recent years the RHS has campaigned strongly about the loss of front gardens to off-road parking and the environmental and social impacts of such transitions.

In 2015 the RHS revealed that over five million front gardens in the UK now have no structural plants growing in them (that’s one in three) and four and a half million front gardens (one in four) are completely paved over. The RHS is interested to know how this loss of urban green space may be affecting people’s health and well-being.

The project will be led by Dr Ross Cameron, and builds on Ross’s recent academic review of the ecosystem services domestic gardens provide (carried out in conjunction with the RHS and the Horticultural Trades Association).

Ross said: “this is a great opportunity to get some strong empirical data on the role gardens can play in determining people’s ‘feel good factor’ Too often gardens have been seen as rather peripheral elements in the urban planning debate – but the reality is they are our most common and immediate piece of green space and hence may have a significant impact on our day-to day health and well-being."

The £100 K project will be implemented by a PhD student, co-supervised by Ross, Prof Jenny Roe (University of Virginia) and Dr Alistair Griffith (RHS Science). The student will work alongside the RHS, and part of the research is likely to monitor changes in attitude and well-being in residents as their gardens undergo alterations.

Those interested in applying can contact Dr Ross Cameron for more details.

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