Some urban residents see their landscapes as havens for birds or pollinators. Some like the sheer beauty of a well-kempt lawn or a place to relax. Still others prefer the profit they might make from improving their lawn when they sell their home.
Urban residents value their lawns through their own prisms, and those values lead to a range of efficiency in how they irrigate and fertilize, a new University of Florida study shows.
For instance, homeowners who believe their landscapes offer habitat benefits are most likely to use water efficiently. Those who believe their landscapes offer monetary benefits are least likely to conserve water.
This means UF/IFAS Extension professionals can connect with residents' personal values to improve water stewardship, said Laura Warner, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication and lead author of the study. The research also suggests homeowners should talk to each other more often about what they value in their landscapes. Those conversations may persuade them to use best practices in irrigation and fertilizing, Warner said.
"Behavior change is incredibly complex," Warner said. "By viewing the home landscape as a complex system composed of the values residents associate with this space, and the way they care for it, we can encourage proper irrigation and fertilizer practices."
Warner and her colleagues found their results through a national online survey of 540 homeowners. Researchers asked respondents questions about:
Researchers also asked respondents to answer questions about how they irrigate and or fertilize. For instance, do they irrigate only when needed? Do they ensure any fertilizer spills are cleaned up?
Results showed those who believe their landscape offers environmental benefits are most likely to engage in good fertilization behaviors, while those who believe their landscape provides monetary benefits are least likely to engage in good fertilization behaviors.
Materials provided by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Original written by Brad Buck. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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