Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 177–195 | Cite as

Ecology of urban lawns under three common management programs

  • Z. Cheng
  • D. S. Richmond
  • S. O. Salminen
  • P. S. GrewalEmail author


Turfgrass lawns are a central part of urban and suburban landscapes throughout North America and are often managed using repeated applications of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These inputs are expensive and may negatively affect ecological processes in lawns. Therefore, we evaluated the influence of three most common lawn care programs on ecological characteristics of turfgrass lawns. Twenty-eight home lawns, separated into 3 groups based on the lawn care program (professional, do-it-yourself [DIY], and no-input), were studied. Data on lawn quality, weed and insect infestation, disease incidence, soil nematode community, soil nitrogen pools, microbial biomass (MBN), and soil organic matter (SOM) were collected. Results indicated that professional lawn care resulted in the highest aesthetic lawn quality mainly due to better weed control, compared to DIY and no-input programs. However, professional and DIY programs negatively affected MBN and SOM pools and enhanced disease (rust) severity. No significant differences in soil nematode population and nematode community indices across the three programs were found, indicating no differences in net ecosystem productivity among the three programs. Overall, soil nematode food web in turfgrass lawns represented a disturbed food web compared to natural grasslands and forest ecosystems, irrespective of the lawn care program used.


Lawn management program Lawn quality Soil nutrient pools Soil nematode community 



This research was funded by USDA's North Central Region IPM Grant program and by the Urban Landscape Ecology Program at The Ohio State University.

We sincerely express our appreciation to homeowners who participated in this study. We also thank Mr. David McCartney, Mr. Donald Beam, and Ms. Senetta Bancroft for their help with soil analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Z. Cheng
    • 1
  • D. S. Richmond
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. O. Salminen
    • 1
  • P. S. Grewal
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Urban Landscape Ecology Program and Department of EntomologyThe Ohio State UniversityWoosterUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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