In urban ecosystems, households are important decision-making units that are resource
consumers and contributors to urban water pollution. At the landscape level, individual
household choices regarding lawn management vary greatly, contributing to the
detriment or protection of water resources. To better target household behavior change,
we need to understand the social influences that determine how and why households
manage their lawns differently, and what characteristics of the household could be
driving these differences. We suggest that a better understanding of households could
inform targeted policies and programs for effective change strategies. By spatially
examining income, house age and proximity to a lake, we analyzed whether household
groupings reflect households that think and act in similar ways with respect to lawn
management. We obtained data for this research through a 2008 mail survey completed
by the Twin Cities Household Ecosystem Project in Ramsey and Anoka Counties,
Minnesota. Responses to questions pertaining to fertilization, leaf and lawn clipping
management, vegetation choice, and lawn management attitudes were analyzed. When
households were grouped spatially across the landscape with respect to proximity to a
lake, few significant differences were found between household groups within 200 meters
vs. farther than 200 meters. While income did influence particular lawn management
attitudes and behaviors, it did not group spatially at a county scale, or at the finer scale of
Saint Paul, the major city in our study area. House age showed significant relationships
with almost every attitude and behavior examined, and was the only factor to demonstrate
important spatial grouping. The correlation of house age with lawn attitudes/behaviors,
however, is partially an artifact of housing density and number of trees on a household’s
property. This study demonstrates that it may be possible to target households based on
particular factors in order to tailor educational programming and policy to influence lawn
management behavior, reduce pollutants leaving household lawns, and therefore improve
University of Minnesota Master of Science thesis. January 2011. Major: Water Resources Science. Advisor: Kristen Nelson. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 35 pages.
Wein, Sarah Nicole Panzer.
Targeting Audiences for Improved Lawn Management: Can Grouping Households Assist with Nonpoint Water Pollution Reduction.
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