Event Title

The Social-Ecology of Residential Landscape Management: Complex Effects and Integrated Approaches

Presenter Information

Kelli Larson

Location

ECC 216

Event Website

http://water.usu.edu/

Start Date

4-4-2012 11:05 AM

End Date

4-4-2012 11:40 AM

Description

The ubiquity of lawns in the U.S. and elsewhere leads to significant demands on water resources because of the need to irrigate them, especially in fast-growing, arid cities. Intensive landscape management in various settings threatens other environmental impacts due to fertilizer and pesticide usage, among other practices. Although the monocultural, industrial lawn is commonly heralded for its hyper-green, weed-free aesthetic, which is entrenched in the social-psyche of many suburban residents, concerns about the impacts of landscape management on natural resources and urban sustainability have risen in recent years and decades. Accordingly, research on the social-ecological causes, consequences, and feedbacks of residents’ landscaping decisions has increased. Yet much of this work has been narrow or limited in focus or approach. In this talk, I will present an in-depth, interdisciplinary, case study from Phoenix, AZ to demonstrate: the complex, counterintuitive and contradictory effects of attitudinal preferences on landscaping decisions; critical tradeoffs among landscape choices such as ‘mesic’ lawns and ‘xeric’ drought-tolerant alternatives; and, the lasting and important role of legacy effects and structural constraints on residents’ yard-management decisions. Emerging insights from cross-regional, comparative research (affiliated with the Long-Term Ecological Research, or LTER, network) will also be addressed, specifically considering the ‘homogeneity thesis’ that posits sub/urbanization is a standardizing force for landscaping decisions (i.e., following the monocultural, industrial norm). Finally, the value of integrated, placed-based approaches to research and planning will be stressed as an overarching lesson learned from this and related work.

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Apr 4th, 11:05 AM Apr 4th, 11:40 AM

The Social-Ecology of Residential Landscape Management: Complex Effects and Integrated Approaches

ECC 216

The ubiquity of lawns in the U.S. and elsewhere leads to significant demands on water resources because of the need to irrigate them, especially in fast-growing, arid cities. Intensive landscape management in various settings threatens other environmental impacts due to fertilizer and pesticide usage, among other practices. Although the monocultural, industrial lawn is commonly heralded for its hyper-green, weed-free aesthetic, which is entrenched in the social-psyche of many suburban residents, concerns about the impacts of landscape management on natural resources and urban sustainability have risen in recent years and decades. Accordingly, research on the social-ecological causes, consequences, and feedbacks of residents’ landscaping decisions has increased. Yet much of this work has been narrow or limited in focus or approach. In this talk, I will present an in-depth, interdisciplinary, case study from Phoenix, AZ to demonstrate: the complex, counterintuitive and contradictory effects of attitudinal preferences on landscaping decisions; critical tradeoffs among landscape choices such as ‘mesic’ lawns and ‘xeric’ drought-tolerant alternatives; and, the lasting and important role of legacy effects and structural constraints on residents’ yard-management decisions. Emerging insights from cross-regional, comparative research (affiliated with the Long-Term Ecological Research, or LTER, network) will also be addressed, specifically considering the ‘homogeneity thesis’ that posits sub/urbanization is a standardizing force for landscaping decisions (i.e., following the monocultural, industrial norm). Finally, the value of integrated, placed-based approaches to research and planning will be stressed as an overarching lesson learned from this and related work.

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/runoff/2012/AllAbstracts/60