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Rafael Fernández-Cañero, José Ordovás, and Miguel Ángel Herrera Machuca

Spain has undergone a period of uncontrolled urban expansion in a relatively short time-span, affecting people's quality of life in negative ways with significant impacts on the environment and land resources such as water and energy. Many new residential areas have low-density development, based on single-family houses with private gardens. These gardens are usually relatively small in size, but when considered as a whole, they make a substantial contribution to urban green spaces and have an important impact on the local environment. Although this includes a large variety of benefits, gardens demand a significant quantity of resources, including irrigation water, which is also important and should be taken into account. This paper analyzes features and management practices in domestic gardens, their relationships to garden design, and the attitudes of owners with regard to more sustainable alternatives. In addition, the main features of private gardens are examined. For this study, in-person interviews were conducted with homeowners who possess domestic gardens in the region of Aljarafe in southern Spain. The features of the gardens surveyed proved to be highly variable and related to several factors, such as the area of the gardens. Results seem to indicate that owners are reluctant to implement measures to lower water consumption in garden irrigation, apparently because of a lack of knowledge regarding more sustainable design alternatives. Homeowners who had prior knowledge of the principles of xeriscaping were significantly more open to applying these principles in practical ways.

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Maxym Reva, Custodia Cano, Miguel-Angel Herrera, and Alberto Bago

Global climate change is increasing temperatures worldwide, which greatly affects all biological relationships. Plant and soil ecosystems are also suffering in this new scenario, especially in semi-arid areas where water resources are limited. Regarding agricultural crops, temperatures that increase dramatically negatively affect fruit production and quality, making it mandatory to find sustainable practices to cope with these new situations. Symbiotic microorganisms in general and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in particular have been revealed as promising methods of alleviating stress that are respectful of the environment and soil equilibrium. In this work, we demonstrate the suitability of an ultra-pure, in vitro-issued arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculant for alleviating severe heat stress when applied to three important agricultural crops (tomato: Solanum lycopersicum L.; pepper: Capiscum annuum L.; cucumber: Cucumis sativus L.) under agronomic conditions. Inoculated plants had greatly improved endurance under heat stress because of increased vigor, productivity, and fruit quality. Considering the actual scenario of global climate change, our results shed a light of hope and indicate more sustainable cultivation practices adapted to global change.