Intensively managed household yards are an important, yet understudied, feature of urban ecosystems. Grass now covers an area that amounts to the largest irrigated crop in the United States, covering 25-40 million acres and contributing to high rates of water and fertilizer use. But little is known about how homeowner decisions about residential landscape management impact ecological processes in soils and vegetation or what drives these landscape management decisions. CAP LTER scientists Kelli Larson and Sharon Hall along with a team of graduate and undergraduate researchers have begun investigating residential landscapes in neighborhoods across Phoenix, Arizona. Their research uses social surveys of homeowners coupled with field surveys of yards to answer two primary questions: What are the factors that drive residential landscape management decisions? How do landscape management practices affect vegetation structure, microclimate, and other ecological processes?
Funded through a 2006 Social Science Supplement