What’s in a yardscape? A case study of emergent ecosystem services and disservices within resident yardscape discourses in Minnesota

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15 Scopus citations


Residential yardscapes are at the forefront of human interaction with nature for those living in urban areas across Europe and North America. In recent years a significant amount of research has investigated urban green spaces using the ecosystem services framework (ES) along with ecosystem disservices (ED) and how such spaces deliver urban ecosystem services (UES). However, a gap exists in understanding how ES and ED manifest themselves in the more specific context of residential yardscapes. Specifically, do homeowners conceptualize ES and ED when talking about their yards without specific prompts to reflect services and disservices? The current work presents a case study of homeowners in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area in Minnesota, United States. We used two associated surveys to elicit responses related to homeowners’ yards. Without prompting, homeowner conceptualizations of their yardscapes reflected all ES categories with cultural (CES) (e.g., family recreation) and provisioning (PES) (e.g., vegetable cultivation) services cited most often. Homeowners also mentioned ED associated with their own or a neighbor’s yard (e.g., attraction of nuisance wildlife). Their plans for yardscapes indicated largely incremental changes (e.g., putting in a new planting bed) vs. drastic shifts (e.g., complete replacement of turfgrass with alternative vegetation). This case study illustrates that the homeowners’ conceptualizations of their yards do indeed reflect current ES & ED frameworks without specific prompting. The ES framework, combined with the identified leverage points, can be a fruitful approach for enhancing UES and minimizing ED within residential yardscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1179
Number of pages13
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to National Science Foundation Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program (BCS-0908998) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture McIntire-Stennis 1000343 MIN-42-069 for research support. We thank our research colleagues L. A. Baker (PI), S.E. Hobbie, J.Y. King, and J.P. McFadden (Co-PIs) as well as A. Woodside, K. Will, and L. Dorle for data management support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Case study
  • Ecosystem disservices
  • Ecosystem services
  • Narrative
  • Yards


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