Public Land manager discourses on barriers and opportunities for a transition to Low input turfgrass in urban areas

Michael R. Barnes, Kristen C. Nelson, Alec R. Kowalewski, Aaron J. Patton, Eric Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Public land managers are on the front lines of vegetation management and decision making as essential players in urban sustainability efforts. Green infrastructure, including lawns, has the potential to relieve climate change-related strains on municipal budgets while enhancing the quality of life. The most common urban vegetation that managers make decisions about is turfgrass, which dominates urban areas across North America and Europe. Recent appeals for changes in the ubiquitous lawn, promoting a transition from high input (e.g., fertilizer, water) to low input, more sustainable forms of urban vegetation have arisen. Despite the broad critique of the lawn, perspectives from public land managers on issues of transitioning to low input turfgrasses in urban areas remain mostly unknown. We conducted focus groups with land managers across the northern United States, specifically in Oregon, Indiana, and New Jersey to understand factors they consider opportunities and barriers in transitioning to low input cool-season turfgrasses, using the example of fine fescue varieties. Overall, managers articulated significant opportunities for a transition to low input turf. Across all groups, managers noted labor and time savings, as well as anticipated future climate and other challenges (e.g., watering restrictions, declining water quality), which could aid in the adoption of low input turfgrasses now and in the near future. Mangers also articulated significant current barriers such as previously negative experience with earlier varieties of fine fescues and their confusion around the naming of current varieties to overcome before widespread adoption could take place. More work needs to be done to demonstrate the benefits of low input turfgrasses, get managers hands-on experience with improved varieties, as well as work on simplifying and organizing the publicly used names of fine fescues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126745
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Volume53
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the funding support by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture , U.S. Department of Agriculture , Specialty Crop Research Initiative under award number 2017-51181-27222 and for K.C. Nelson, NIFA McIntire-Stennis 1000343 MIN-42-069. The authors would also like to thank the focus group participants for their time and input and the staff and support from cooperators at Purdue University, Oregon State University, and Rutgers University.

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the funding support by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Specialty Crop Research Initiative under award number 2017-51181-27222 and for K.C. Nelson, NIFA McIntire-Stennis 1000343 MIN-42-069. The authors would also like to thank the focus group participants for their time and input and the staff and support from cooperators at Purdue University, Oregon State University, and Rutgers University.

Keywords

  • Fine fescue
  • Grasslands
  • Lawns
  • Parkland
  • Sustainability
  • Turf
  • Urban vegetation

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