AEC363 Reaching Diverse Homeowner Audiences with Environmental Landscape Programs: Comparing Lawn Service Users and Nonusers1 Glenn D. Israel and Gary W. Knox2 Many of Florida's homeowners are not improper landscape design, installation and well-informed about the environmental impact of maintenance. The program integrates an evaluation their landscaping practices. At the same time, they of site conditions and the use of appropriate have placed great importance on lawn appearance landscape design, plant selection, irrigation, and, by inference, on lawn fertilization (Knox, Israel, fertilization, pest management, mowing, pruning, and Davis, et al., 1995; Park Brown, 2000; Salazar, 1997). recycling practices. Educational seminars and Of residents who used fertilizer, many applied it workshops, handbook/workbook sets, on-line more frequently than recommended, did not follow publications and articles in newspapers are used to the manufacturer's instructions, and did not use teach residents about these topics. Understanding slow-release fertilizers that minimize the potential for which homeowners attend Extension programs and nitrate contamination. Many lawn care service why they do so is important for recruiting professionals also fertilized according to a schedule participants, conveying the importance of using (as opposed to need), fertilized lawns more recommended practices, and effectively teaching frequently than recommended and fertilized at rates recommended landscape care practices (Israel and higher than what is recommended (Israel, Pinheiro, & Hague, 2001). Thus, a key question is whether Knox, 1995). homeowners who use a lawn care service have different attitudes about landscape practices and The following study explores whether lawn care whether they use different practices than nonusers of service users differed from nonusers and, if so, in lawn care services. what ways. Lawn care service users and nonusers are important market segments for the horticultural A survey instrument was developed and mailed industry, as well as for Extension's Florida Yards & to 887 Florida residents in Lake and Orange Counties Neighborhood (FYN) program. FYN's goal is to where FYN educational programs were being reduce environmental impacts associated with conducted by the Florida Cooperative Extension 1. This document is AEC363, one of a series of the Agricultural Education and Communication Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date November 28, 2001. Reviewed August 24, 2007. Visit the EDIS Web Site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Glenn D. Israel, Professor, and Gary W. Knox, Professor, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultuarl Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611. The authors wish to thank Howard Ladewig, Sydney Park Brown, and Nick Place for their helpful suggestions on an earlier draft. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Larry Arrington, Dean Reaching Diverse Homeowner Audiences with Environmental Landscape Programs: Comparing.... 2 Service (FCES). The survey included detailed Results questions about fertilization practices, environmental attitudes and information networks, demographic Of the 462 respondents, 113 (25%) reported characteristics and attributes of the residential using a lawn care service ("Users") and 349 (75%) property. Four hundred sixty-two respondents did not ("Nonusers"). Lawn care service users differ completed the survey, a 52% response rate.3 from nonusers in several important ways. For example, respondents living in a house with a market value of $200,000 were twice as likely to use a lawn care service than those with a value of $86,000 (Figure 1).4 Use of a lawn care service also was lowest among homeowners in their early 40s and became much higher among those approaching retirement (Figure 2). Obviously, as elders become infirm, they must rely on professionals to care for the lawn and landscape. When a homeowner or a family member had some involvement in caring for the landscape, he or she was less likely to use a lawn care service (Figure 3). Households in which the homeowner or family member did not have any involvement in yard care were much more likely to use a lawn care service, especially when the homeowner applied fertilizer. This suggests that some homeowners are able to carry out some yard care (i.e., fertilize the lawn) but prefer not to do the routine mowing. Where homeowners got information about caring for their yard was important for distinguishing lawn care service users and nonusers. Recall that one-quarter of all respondents reported using a lawn care service. Almost no one was predicted to use a lawn care service if he or she also did not obtain information from lawn care or pest control providers (Figure 4). This means that homeowners who use a service also were more likely to rely on the service for information and many of these homeowners did not seek information from other sources. Conversely, those who got yard care information from neighbors and friends were predicted to be somewhat less likely (17 percentage points less, Figure 4) to use a lawn care service than those who did not get yard care information from neighbors and friends. Also, very few homeowners were predicted to use a lawn care service in the absence of information from a retail nursery/garden center or lawn care service (Figure 5). This reflects the fact that many homeowners who did use a lawn care service also relied on either the service or the nursery/garden center for information. Reaching Diverse Homeowner Audiences with Environmental Landscape Programs: Comparing.... 3 Finally, the predicted percentage of homeowners using lawn care services was larger for those with higher scores on knowledge about nitrate pollution than nonusers (Figure 6).5 This may reflect an association with other factors, such as education. That is, well-educated persons are more likely to hold professional jobs, earn higher salaries, live in more expensive homes, and use many channels to obtain information relevant to his or her interests. Practices (BMPs). Though Extension faculty have conducted a number of educational programs focused on lawn and landscape BMPs for the commercial clients, this study suggests that increased attention is needed on communicating with customers about BMPs. For lawn care service professionals to make time to share information with customers or modify their business practices, it will be important to show how FYN practices can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, reduce operating costs, and increase net profit. Likewise, nurserymen and garden center managers will need to be shown how involvement in FYN can help their business. Since lawn care service users already purchase goods and services at garden centers and nurseries, sale of Extension publications at these locations might be attractive to homeowners and profitable for businesses. The nursery and landscape industries also might benefit from Extension programs that create better informed consumers of plants and landscape services. Informed consumers will make more appropriate choices for their landscapes, which in turn should lead Discussion to healthier landscapes and more satisfied customers. In addition, informed consumers can offer The results suggest that lawn care service users opportunities for new services, such as specialized and nonusers differ in several ways, perhaps most environmental or “green” landscaping services for importantly in how each group obtains information on professionals who wish to cultivate a niche market. caring for the yard (Figure 7). In order to reach the lawn care service user segment with FYN References educational information, it will be important for Cooperative Extension to form partnerships with Israel, Glenn D. and Glenn Hague. 2001. The professionals in the lawn care service industry, as Challenge of Environmental Education: A well as retail nursery and garden center Comparison of Nonparticipants and Participants in owners/managers, to cultivate homeowners' demands Homeowner Landscaping Programs. Revision of the for lawn care services that use Best Management Reaching Diverse Homeowner Audiences with Environmental Landscape Programs: Comparing.... 4 4. The predicted percentages in all figures are net of other factors listed included in the analysis and based on a logistic regression model (SAS Institute Inc., 1996). The model Chi-square was 209.872, with a p-value of .0001. The model accounted for 44.9% of the intercept-only model Chi-square. 5. Knowledge was measured asking respondents how much he or she agreed or disagreed with two items: “I am concerned about fertilizer's potential to pollute drinking water” and “I think that fertilizer used on lawns and landscape plants is a major source of nitrate pollution.” Item scores ranged from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree and knowledge was calculated as the average for the two items. Internal consistency as indicated by Chronbachs alpha, was .634. paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rural Sociological Society in Washington, D.C., August, 2000. Israel, Glenn D., S.B. Pinheiro, and Gary W Knox. 1995. Environmental landscape management practices: Assessing practices among commercial groups, May, Bulletin 306, Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida. Knox, Gary W., Glenn D. Israel, G.L. Davis, Robert J. Black, Joe M. Schaefer, and Sydney Park Brown. 1995. Environmental landscape management: Use of practices by florida consumers, September, Bulletin 307, Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida. Park Brown, Sydney. 2000. Relationship between situational and demographic factors and adoption of environmental landscape practices by Extension clientele. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida. Salazar, Bonnie. 1997. Social marketing study of individuals' environmental landscape practices, CSI File No. 6209.01, Chastain Skillman Inc., Tampa, FL. SAS Institute Inc. 1996. SAS 6.12 [Computer software], Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc. Additional Notes: 3. Data on the market value of houses owned by the sample was compared with the entire sampling frame to assess non-response bias. The average market values were $95,123 and $95,119, respectively, which indicates that the obtained sample was not biased on this measure.