Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1123–1137 | Cite as

The perfect lawn: exploring neighborhood socio-cultural drivers for insect pollinator habitat

  • Andrea BurrEmail author
  • Damon M. Hall
  • Nicole Schaeg


In the United States, residential yards are typically overlooked for biodiversity conservation, yet they account for a significant portion of urban green space. Yard vegetation can serve as valuable habitat patches for insect pollinator populations in cities, providing important foraging and nesting resources. Based on long-term native bee sampling data, we investigate the social and cultural drivers shaping front yard vegetation composition and configuration at two study sites with consistently low native bee species diversity and abundance. We employ quantitative remote sensing approaches with analysis of qualitative interview data to examine residential vegetation patterns and analyze the socio-cultural relationships between people and vegetation. Data analyses reveal both study sites have lower levels of vegetation composition and complexity, resulting in reduced habitat resources. We find neighborhood public-facing landscaping is shaped by various socio-cultural influences: aesthetics, norms, reference-group behavior, institutions, socioeconomics, and identity. Front yard land-use and decision-making practices are particularly meaning laden, as these spaces are often perceived as visible representations of longstanding neighborhood identity and contiguous common areas to be managed to a “perfect lawn” ideal. The quantitative and qualitative data are used to characterize the two study sites and inform future urban conservation and development efforts salient to citizen stakeholders.


Interdisciplinary research Native bees Sustainability science Cities 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for SustainabilitySaint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.School of Natural Resources, Department of BioengineeringUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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