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  • Author or Editor: Eric Watkins x
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The economic downturns of 2007–09 and the COVID-19 pandemic affected most industries in the United States, including landscape services and equipment sales, and provoked both short-term disruptions and long-term changes. To understand how the landscaping industry has responded, we investigated patterns of consumer expenditures on landscape services and equipment from 2009 through 2021 using a representative sample of 76,895 US households. We categorized US households as detached single-family residents and townhouse residents to more fully articulate the factors that turned potential consumers into purchasers and the factors that affected purchasers’ expenditures. We used a double-hurdle model to identify key factors that drive consumer demand for landscape services and equipment over time, including social-demographics, geographic characteristics, housing conditions, year and seasonal trends, and the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that during the studied period, the demand for landscape services declined in terms of both the percentage of consumers purchasing the services and the purchasers’ average expenditures, while the demand for do-it-yourself (DIY) equipment remained relatively unchanged. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage of consumers who purchased landscape services increased, while the expenditures on landscape services decreased in 2020 and then began to rebound in 2021, but not enough to reverse the overall downward trend. In contrast, purchases of DIY equipment were relatively stable in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and mainly relied on current consumers.

Open Access

Several studies have been conducted on low-maintenance turfgrass species; however, relatively few have evaluated mixtures or blends. The objective of this study was to evaluate low-maintenance turfgrass mixtures or blends for turf quality under minimal input conditions. Eight turfgrass mixtures or blends were planted in 2009 at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (Chaska, MN) on a low-fertility soil to assess their adaptability to low-input conditions (minimal water and fertilizer and no pesticides after establishment). The year after establishment, plots were divided into no-mow and minimal mow treatments. Plots were evaluated for establishment in 2009 and overall quality and percent weed cover in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Native grass mixtures established slowly with greater weed encroachment, but over time resulted in high-quality ratings. Under minimal mowing, the Tall Fescue Blend [tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)] performed the best for quality, while three fine fescue (Festuca sp.) mixtures and the Tall Fescue/Kentucky Bluegrass Mixture [tall fescue + kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis)] also had acceptable quality ratings. The Kentucky Bluegrass Blend (kentucky bluegrass) was less competitive with weeds and had unacceptable quality ratings. Under no-mow conditions, the native grass mixtures and the Tall Fescue Blend had the highest overall quality ratings.

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Outdoor water use, especially for lawn and landscaping irrigation, accounts for a substantial proportion of residential water use and often peaks during summer months. Understanding how to reduce outdoor water use can play a critical role in balancing the increasing demand for and subsequent protection of water resources. This study aims to find out if information-based strategies can be effective in reducing homeowners’ water use as well as identifying the key determinants that can enhance water conservation campaigns. Using online survey data from 2077 randomly selected urban homeowners with home lawns in a relatively water-rich state, we found that social norm-based information is generally more effective to promote household water conservation behavior than education information. Moreover, the results showed that the households’ water-saving actions, lawn watering knowledge, awareness for local water scarcity, attitudes toward water conservation, socio-demographics, and landscape characteristics all play a role in determining household water conservation intention.

Open Access

Identifying sources of turfgrass cultivar performance data can be difficult for many consumers. Currently, the best source for data of this type is the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP). Unfortunately, these data are made public in a format that is not readily usable for most consumers. Ideally, turfgrass cultivar data would be available in an easily accessible database. We conducted an online survey to investigate user preferences for accessing publically available turfgrass performance data in the United States. We found users desire a turfgrass cultivar performance database that allows for the identification of cultivars best adapted and tolerant to environmental stresses. The information on turfgrass mixtures and blends is also important to most users. Users’ sociodemographic backgrounds, such as gender, education, occupation, and experience in the turf industry, affected their attitudes toward information provided in the turfgrass database. Turfgrass consumers need the new database to provide information on identifying turfgrass options that are resource efficient and endophyte resistant. Turfgrass breeders, researchers, and extension specialists use the turfgrass database to compare different turfgrasses cultivars to do further analysis. The results of this study provide important implications on how an updated turfgrass cultivar performance database and platform can fulfill the different needs of turfgrass researchers, extension personnel, breeders, and stakeholders.

Open Access