Public land managers and sustainable urban vegetation: The case of low-input turfgrasses

Michael R. Barnes, Kristen C Nelson, Amanda J. Meyer, Eric Watkins, Stacy A. Bonos, Brian P Horgan, William A. Meyer, James Murphy, Chengyan Yue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In urban ecosystems, public land managers are responsible for making complex decisions about vegetation and the management of public spaces that have ecological, economic, and social consequences. Across the globe, the question is whether to move from commonly used vegetation options that require multiple inputs (e.g. water, fertilizer, pesticides) and intensive management (e.g. mowing, re-seeding) to more sustainable, low-input, low-management vegetation varieties. Little is known about urban public land managers’ perceptions and beliefs about low-input turfgrass (e.g. fine fescue species) and their willingness to encourage such environmentally sustainable practices for public lands or support low-input vegetation conversion programs for private residential yards in their cities. We surveyed U.S. public land managers in Minnesota and New Jersey metropolitan areas about their preferences and beliefs regarding low-input turfgrass, specifically cool season fine fescue, and related those beliefs to opportunities for urban environmental sustainability. Overall managers showed favorable views towards low-input turfgrasses suggesting an interest in conversion to more sustainable management. Also, they demonstrated significant support of municipal programs to convert both public and private lands to low-input turfgrasses. Educational attainment and employer type were found to be responsible for most differing viewpoints among managers. This study suggests public land managers may not be a barrier to sustainable vegetation change, but rather important facilitators. More work needs to be done to understand this phenomenon globally and evaluate public land managers’ roles in the transition to low-input vegetation as well as capacity to anticipate future challenges for vegetation in the urban ecosystem, more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-292
Number of pages9
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Specialty Crops Research Initiative under award number 2012-51181-19932 and for Kristen Nelson, MIN 42-051 , NIFA Macintire-Stennis 1000343 funds. We would like to thank Brad Park, Rutgers University, and at the University of Minnesota, Samuel Graf, Ashley Weeks, Henry Carlson & Jessi Wyatt for help with distribution of the surveys.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier GmbH


  • Fine fescue
  • Management
  • Public land managers
  • Sustainability
  • Turfgrass
  • Urban vegetation


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