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National study reveals urban lawn care habits

rigated crop. What we do in our suburban and urban yards has a big impact, for better or worse, on the environment."

Among the survey's findings: residents of Boston and Miami cities with very different climates had similar fertilization rates. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the study's two driest cities (Phoenix and Los Angeles) irrigation was positively correlated with affluence. But overall, local climate and social factors led to more lawn care variability than initially expected, both between and within cities.

Polsky notes, "One of the take-home lessons is that responding to lawn care-related environmental challenges may require locally-tailored solutions in more cases than we initially thought. Place matters, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach."

With Groffman adding, "The management of urban and suburban areas has a direct impact on water resources, carbon storage, and the fate of pollutants, like nitrogen and phosphorus. Yards are also where our environmental knowledge, values, and behavior are likely generated. The good news is that individual actions, on a yard-to-yard-basis, can make a difference."

The project was made possible through funding provided by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) MacroSystems Biology Program and Long-Term Ecological Research Program. It is part of a larger initiative that is investigating how urban homogenization can be used to understand carbon and nitrogen dynamics, with continental scale implications.

Henry Gholz, program director in NSF's Division of Environmental Biology notes, "Research on residential landscapes is critical to sustainability science. The approach in this study can be used to test other ideas about how people who live in cities decide to manage their yards. This should open a new phase in the field of urban ecology."


Contact: Lori M Quillen
845-677-7600 x121
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

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