Residential household yard care practices along urban-exurban gradients in six climatically-diverse U.S. metropolitan areas

Autoři: Dexter H. Locke aff001;  Colin Polsky aff002;  J. Morgan Grove aff001;  Peter M. Groffman aff003;  Kristen C. Nelson aff004;  Kelli L. Larson aff005;  Jeannine Cavender-Bares aff006;  James B. Heffernan aff007;  Rinku Roy Chowdhury aff008;  Sarah E. Hobbie aff006;  Neil D. Bettez aff009;  Sharon J. Hall aff010;  Christopher Neill aff011;  Laura Ogden aff012;  Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne aff013
Působiště autorů: USDA Forest Service, Baltimore Field Station, Baltimore, MD, United States of America aff001;  Florida Atlantic University, Center for Environmental Studies, Davie, FL, United States of America aff002;  CUNY Advanced Science Research Center and Brooklyn College Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences 85 St. Nicholas Terrace, New York, NY, United States of America aff003;  Department of Forest Resources and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, & Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, MN, United States of America aff004;  Schools of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States of America aff005;  Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, United States of America aff006;  Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC, United States of America aff007;  Graduate School of Geography, Worcester, MA, United States of America aff008;  Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY, United States of America aff009;  School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States of America aff010;  The Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA, United States of America aff011;  Dartmouth College, Department of Anthropology, Hanover, NH, United States of America aff012;  University of Vermont, Spatial Analysis Lab, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, Aiken Center, Burlington, VT, United States of America aff013
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222630


Residential land is expanding in the United States, and lawn now covers more area than the country’s leading irrigated crop by area. Given that lawns are widespread across diverse climatic regions and there is rising concern about the environmental impacts associated with their management, there is a clear need to understand the geographic variation, drivers, and outcomes of common yard care practices. We hypothesized that 1) income, age, and the number of neighbors known by name will be positively associated with the odds of having irrigated, fertilized, or applied pesticides in the last year, 2) irrigation, fertilization, and pesticide application will vary quadratically with population density, with the highest odds in suburban areas, and 3) the odds of irrigating will vary by climate, but fertilization and pesticide application will not. We used multi-level models to systematically address nested spatial scales within and across six U.S. metropolitan areas—Boston, Baltimore, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. We found significant variation in yard care practices at the household (the relationship with income was positive), urban-exurban gradient (the relationship with population density was an inverted U), and regional scales (city-to-city variation). A multi-level modeling framework was useful for discerning these scale-dependent outcomes because this approach controls for autocorrelation at multiple spatial scales. Our findings may guide policies or programs seeking to mitigate the potentially deleterious outcomes associated with water use and chemical application, by identifying the subpopulations most likely to irrigate, fertilize, and/or apply pesticides.

Klíčová slova:

Agricultural irrigation – Fertilization – Fertilizers – Mathematical models – Neighborhoods – Pesticides – Population density – Urban areas


1. Grimm NB, Faeth SH, Golubiewski NE, Redman CL, Wu J, Bai X, et al. Global change and the ecology of cities. Science (80-). 2008;319: 756–60. doi: 10.1126/science.1150195 18258902

2. Carpenter SR, Lathrop RC, Nowak P, Bennett EM, Reed T, Soranno PA. The ongoing experiment: restoration of Lake Mendota and its watershed. Long-term dynamics of lakes in the landscape. Oxford Univ. Press, London, UK. 2006:236–56.

3. Bennett EM, Reed-Andersen T, Houser JN, Gabriel JR, Carpenter SR. A phosphorus budget for the Lake Mendota watershed. Ecosystems. 1999 Jan 1;2(1):69–75.

4. Bormann FH, Balmori D, Geballe GT. Redesigning the American lawn: a search for environmental harmony. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press; 2001.

5. Robbins P. Lawn people: How grasses, weeds, and chemicals make us who we are. Temple University Press; 2012.

6. Hernke MT, Podein RJ. Sustainability, health and precautionary perspectives on lawn pesticides, and alternatives. Ecohealth. 2011;8: 223–232. doi: 10.1007/s10393-011-0697-7 21912988

7. Milesi C, Running SW, Elvidge CD, Dietz JB, Tuttle BT, Nemani RR. Mapping and modeling the biogeochemical cycling of turf grasses in the United States. Environ Manage. 2005;36: 426–38. doi: 10.1007/s00267-004-0316-2 16086109

8. Goddard MA, Dougill AJ, Benton TG. Scaling up from gardens: biodiversity conservation in urban environments. Trends Ecol Evol. 2010;25(2):90–8. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2009.07.016 19758724

9. Lepczyk CA, Mertig AG, Liu J. Assessing Landowner Activities Related to Birds Across Rural-to-Urban Landscapes. Environ Manage. 2004;33: 110–125. doi: 10.1007/s00267-003-0036-z 14749899

10. Odum WE. Environmental Degradation and the Tyranny of Small Decisions. Bioscience. 1982;32: 728–729. doi: 10.2307/1308718

11. Hope D, Gries C, Zhu W, Fagan WF, Redman CL, Grimm NB, et al. Socioeconomics drive urban plant diversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2003;100: 8788–92. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1537557100 12847293

12. Hope D, Gries C, Casagrande DG, Redman CL, Grimm NB, Martin C, et al. Drivers of Spatial Variation in Plant Diversity Across the Central Arizona-Phoenix Ecosystem. Soc Nat Resour. 2006;19: 101–116. doi: 10.1080/08941920500394469

13. Martin CA, Warren PS, Kinzig AP. Neighborhood socioeconomic status is a useful predictor of perennial landscape vegetation in residential neighborhoods and embedded small parks of Phoenix, AZ. Landsc Urban Plan. 2004;69: 355–368. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2003.10.034

14. Zhou W, Troy AR, Grove JM, Jenkins JC. Can Money Buy Green? Demographic and Socioeconomic Predictors of Lawn-Care Expenditures and Lawn Greenness in Urban Residential Areas. Soc Nat Resour. 2009;22: 744–760. doi: 10.1080/08941920802074330

15. Carrico AR, Fraser J, Bazuin JT. Green With Envy: Psychological and Social Predictors of Lawn Fertilizer Application. Environ Behav. 2012;45: 427–454. doi: 10.1177/0013916511434637

16. Martini NF, Nelson KC, Hobbie SE, Baker LA. Why “Feed the Lawn”? Exploring the Influences on Residential Turf Grass Fertilization in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metropolitan Area. Environ Behav. 2015;47: 158–183. doi: 10.1177/0013916513492418

17. Grove JM, Troy AR, O’Neil-Dunne JPM, Burch WRJ, Cadenasso ML, Pickett STA. Characterization of Households and its Implications for the Vegetation of Urban Ecosystems. 2006;9: 578–597. doi: 10.1007/s10021-006-0116-z

18. Grove JM, Cadenasso ML, Burck WR, Pickett STA, Schwarz K, O’Neil-Dunne JPM, et al. Data and Methods Comparing Social Structure and Vegetation Structure of Urban Neighborhoods in Baltimore, Maryland. Soc Nat Resour. 2006;30: 117–136.

19. Grove JM, Locke DH, O’Neil-Dunne JPM. An Ecology of Prestige in New York City: Examining the Relationships Among Population Density, Socio-economic Status, Group Identity, and Residential Canopy Cover. Environ Manage. 2014;54: 402–419. doi: 10.1007/s00267-014-0310-2 25034751

20. Fraser JC, Bazuin JT, Band LE, Grove MJ. Covenants, cohesion, and community: The effects of neighborhood governance on lawn fertilization. Landsc Urban Plan. Elsevier B.V.; 2013;115: 30–38. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2013.02.013

21. Larson KL, Brumand J. Paradoxes in Landscape Management and Water Conservation: Examining Neighborhood Norms and Institutional Forces. Cities Environ. 2014;7: 1–24. Available:

22. Nassauer JI, Wang Z, Dayrell E. What will the neighbors think? Cultural norms and ecological design. Landsc Urban Plan. 2009;92: 282–292. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2009.05.010

23. Locke DH, Landry SM, Grove MJ, Roy Chowdhury R. What’s scale got to do with it? Models for urban tree canopy. J Urban Ecol. 2016;2: juw006. doi: 10.1093/jue/juw006

24. Robbins P, Polderman A, Birkenholtz T. Lawns and toxins: An ecology of the city. Cities. 2001;18: 369–380. doi: 10.1016/S0264-2751(01)00029-4

25. Jenkins VS. The Lawn: A history of an American obsession. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institute Press.

26. Scotts 1998. Scotts lawncare special annual program edition: lawn successes made easy. Scotts Company, Marysville, p 11

27. Robbins P, Sharp J. Producing and consuming chemicals: the moral economy of the American lawn. Econ Geogr. 2003;79: 425–451. Available:

28. Roy Chowdhury R, Larson KL, Grove JM, Polsky C, Cook EM, Chowdhury RR, et al. A multi-scalar approach to theorizing socio-ecological dynamics of urban residential landscapes. Cities Environ. 2011;4: 1–19. Available:

29. Marco A, Dutoit T, Deschamps-Cottin M, Mauffrey JF, Vennetier M, Bertaudière- Montes V. Gardens in urbanizing rural areas reveal an unexpected floral diversity related to housing density. C R Biol. 2008;331(6):452–65. doi: 10.1016/j.crvi.2008.03.007 18510998

30. Claritas Inc. PRIZM Segment Narratives. The Nielsen Company (US), Inc.; 2008. Retrieved December 11, 2013

31. Polsky C, Grove JM, Knudson C, Groffman PM, Bettez ND, Cavender-bares J, et al. Assessing the homogenization of urban land management with an application to US residential lawn care. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2014;111: 4432–4437. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1323995111 24616515

32. Pham T-T-H, Apparicio P, Landry S, Séguin A-M, Gagnon M. Predictors of the distribution of street and backyard vegetation in Montreal, Canada. Urban For Urban Green; 2012

33. Pham T-T-H, Apparicio P, Séguin A-M, Landry S, Gagnon. Spatial distribution of vegetation in Montreal: An uneven distribution or environmental inequity? Landsc Urban Plan; 2012 Jul 107(3):214–24.

34. Giner NM, Polsky C, Pontius RG, Runfola DM. Understanding the social determinants of lawn landscapes: A fine-resolution spatial statistical analysis in suburban Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Landsc Urban Plan. Elsevier B.V.; 2013 Mar;111:25–33.

35. Robinson WS. Ecological Correlations and the Behavior of Individuals. American Sociological Review. 1950 Jun;15(3).

36. Subramanian SV, Jones K, Kaddour A, Krieger N. Revisiting Robinson: the perils of individualistic and ecologic fallacy. Int J Epidemiol. 2009 Apr;38(2):342-60–3.

37. Aguinis H, Gottfredson RK, Culpepper SA. Best-Practice Recommendations for Estimating Cross-Level Interaction Effects Using Multilevel Modeling. J Manage [Internet]. 2013 Apr 2 [cited 2014 Feb 20];39(6):1490–528. Available from:

38. R Core Team. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. 2013. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.

39. Bates D, Maechler M, Bolker B, Walker S. lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4. R package version. 2014 Jun 23;1(7).

40. Bates D, Maechler M, Bolker B Walker S. “lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4.” 2014b. J Stat Sof

41. Kuznetsova A, Brockhoff PB, Christensen RH. Package ‘lmerTest’. R package version. 2015:2–0.

42. Yabiku ST, Casagrande DG, Farley-metzger E, Farley-metzger E. Preferences for Landscape Choice in a Southwestern Desert City. Environ Behav. 2007;40: 382–400. doi: 10.1177/0013916507300359

43. Larson KL, Casagrande DG, Harlan SL, Yabiku S. Residents’ yard choices and rationales in a desert city: social priorities, ecological impacts, and decision tradeoffs. Environ Manage. 2009;44: 921–937. doi: 10.1007/s00267-009-9353-1 19777295

44. Harris EM, Polsky C, Larson KL, Garvoille R, Martin DG, Brumand J, et al. Heterogeneity in Residential Yard Care: Evidence from Boston, Miami, and Phoenix. Hum Ecol. 2012;40: 735–749. doi: 10.1007/s10745-012-9514-3

45. Harris EM, Martin DG, Polsky C, Denhardt L, Nehring A. Beyond “Lawn People”: The Role of Emotions in Suburban Yard Management Practices. Prof Geogr. 2013; 37–41. doi: 10.1080/00330124.2012.681586

46. Locke DH, Roy Chowdhury R, Grove MJ, Martin DG, Goldman E, Rogan J, et al. Social Norms, Yard Care, and the Difference between Front and Back Yard Management: Examining the Landscape Mullets Concept on Urban Residential Lands. Soc Nat Resour. Routledge; 2018;0: 1–20. doi: 10.1080/08941920.2018.1481549

47. Locke DH, Grove MJ. Doing the Hard Work Where it’s Easiest? Examining the Relationships Between Urban Greening Programs and Social and Ecological Characteristics. Appl Spat Anal Policy. 2016;9: 77–96. doi: 10.1007/s12061-014-9131-1

48. Kara EL, Heimerl C, Killpack T, Carpenter SR. Assessing a decade of phosphorus management in the Lake Mendota, Wisconsin watershed and scenarios for enhanced phosphorus management. Aquat Sci. 2012;74:241–53.

Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 11