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Sustainable landscaping programs in the United States and their potential to encourage conservation and support ecosystem services

A Correction to this article was published on 24 June 2022

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Abstract

Sustainable landscaping programs are voluntary initiatives that recommend a set of practices to improve the environmental quality of urban ecosystems by providing landscaping materials, guidelines, and educational resources. Our goal was to examine the recommendations and outcomes of these programs in the United States and their value for encouraging conservation practices in residential ecosystems. We conducted a comprehensive web search and identified 193 sustainable landscaping programs in the United States. Programs aim to increase native species richness, affordably manage stormwater runoff, and offer residents meaningful experiences with nature. Sustainable landscaping programs present many opportunities to engage people with local ecological knowledge and conservation practices, provide accessible spaces for environmental education, cultivate interdisciplinary research collaborations, and advance inclusion in conservation. However, assessments of their ecological value are rare, leaving many questions surrounding the benefits to biodiversity and water quality afforded by participation. Many programs also require investments in landscaping materials and certification fees that might limit participation by some households. Future work should examine how recommended practices influence urban biodiversity, identify and address barriers to participation, and generate social-ecological knowledge that can inform future programs.

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Funding was provided by The Ohio State University Fay Graduate Fellowship (Discretionary Fund #314632) to M.A.P., The Ohio State University Diversity Associateship to M.A.P., and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships Program (DGE-1343012) to S.B.S.

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M.A.P., S.B.S, L.R.F., and M.M.G. conceived the ideas and designed the methodology. M.A.P., S.B.S., L.R.F., and M.M.G. collected the data. M.A.P. analyzed the data and interpreted the results. M.A.P. led the writing of the manuscript with revisions from S.B.S., L.R.F., and M.M.G. All authors gave final approval for publication.

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Correspondence to Michelle A. Pham.

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Pham, M.A., Scott, S.B., Fyie, L.R. et al. Sustainable landscaping programs in the United States and their potential to encourage conservation and support ecosystem services. Urban Ecosyst 25, 1481–1490 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-022-01241-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-022-01241-8

Keywords

  • Urban greening
  • Sustainable landscaping
  • Yard certification
  • Residential
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Stormwater management
  • Urban biodiversity