Parks in urban areas provide a range of significant benefits across natural and social systems. These critical urban green spaces and those who manage them are faced with balancing budgetary constraints, sustainability goals, and user requirements. Competing demands are exemplified in the difficulties faced in managing the dominant form of park vegetation: natural turfgrass lawns. Traditionally turfgrass lawns can have high input requirements (e.g., water and fertilizer), which may cause negative environmental effects if not managed properly. One proposed solution is the adoption of artificial turfgrass lawns which do not require the more intensive inputs of natural turfgrass lawns. However, park users’ perceptions of the equivalency of artificial and natural lawns across various use cases remain unknown. Thus, we surveyed adults in the United States to elicit responses on the most common uses of public lawn spaces, as well as specifically how likely they were to use artificial and natural lawns across various use cases using photos of each type. Overall, significant differences were found between participants' likelihood to use artificial lawns compared to natural lawns with small to moderate effect sizes across the majority of use cases. This work suggests that park users are generally more hesitant to use artificial turfgrass lawns compared to using natural turfgrass lawns. More work needs to be done on understanding specific reasons for why park users seem to prefer natural lawns across various use cases compared to artificial lawns. Management implications: The current work generates several implications for decision making and management of public lawn green spaces: Higher favorability towards natural turfgrasses across many use cases should prompt managers to assess the suitability of low input turfgrasses to meet user preferences while addressing management, budgetary, and sustainability constraints and targets. Individuals utilize lawns for a wide variety of use cases. Park level observational surveys could be employed by public land managers and parks departments to assess use cases in any given park and/or park sub-area to better align management regimes with uses. Artificial turfgrass lawns could be used in specific contexts where constraints demand, such as sports fields where individuals held equally favorable views towards artificial and natural turf.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the funding support by the Washington Turfgrass Seed Commission along with the participants who gave their time to complete the survey. Additionally, the authors would like to thank MR and DH for their review of earlier drafts.
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd
- Artificial turfgrass
- Natural turfgrass