by JI Nassauer, Z Wang, E Dayrell

Landscape and Urban Planning 92:282-292


Exurban development (defined here as properties larger than 0.5 acre, not served by municipal water and sewer services, and on previously undeveloped land) represents the largest proportion of sprawl in the U.S. and poses a number of ecological threats. This paper studied the preferences of exurban homeowners for different front yard designs: (a) conventional lawn with no plantings, (b and c) some lawn with 50 or 75% native prairie forb-dominated gardens, (d) mature trees with native shade garden, or (e) young trees planted in mown lawn. An image-based web survey was used to reach 494 people. Results showed that although people generally preferred the conventional design, they had a stronger tendency to prefer that which was presented as the neighborhood norm. That is, if respondents were told to imagine they were moving to a house in a new neighborhood and shown images of the adjacent houses, they strongly preferred a design that was in keeping with the neighbors. The authors conclude that ecological innovations in yard design may be more successful when implemented at the neighborhood scale than at the parcel scale.

Region: Southeastern Michigan
Publication Type: Journal article
Keywords: aesthetics, design, residential, sprawl, surveys and interviews, trees on private property, and urban forestry