Exploring Homeowner Diffusion of Yard Care Knowledge as One Step Toward Improving Urban Ecosystems

Nicholas F. Martini, Kristen C. Nelson, Maria E. Dahmus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Urban ecosystems are increasingly influenced by residential yard care decisions. This had led researchers to focus on homeowner education programs when it comes to yard care. Typically, the success of programs designed to influence yard care is based on whether the target subject changes his or her behavior in a more environmentally conscious manner. This threshold, however, fails to consider if individuals share this information with their friends and neighbors, thus having a possible spillover effect. In this paper, we focus on the transmission of new lawn management information among neighbors and consider (1) if individuals discuss information they learned in a short-term educational program, (2) what factors are associated with diffusion, (3) what information individuals share, and (4) what barriers to transmission exist. In the Minneapolis–St. Paul metropolitan area, we used data from a mailed survey, group discussions, and mailed information exchanges. Results indicate that best management practices for yards can diffuse through the neighborhood (approximately 34 % shared information with their neighbors in a one-month period). In addition, factors such as (1) attending a group discussion, 2) individual social connectedness, (3) length of home ownership, and (4) the presence of children in the household were found to be positively related to increased sharing of information. Also, for lawns, the content of information shared tended to be about increasing grass height and reducing fertilizer applications. Finally, we find barriers to sharing ideas based on spatial, temporal, or perception factors but overcoming some of these barriers is possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1223-1236
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental management
Volume54
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2014

Keywords

  • Behavior change interventions
  • Diffusion
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Minneapolis–Saint Paul
  • Minnesota
  • Urban ecosystems
  • Yard care

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