Modeling multi-scale influences on household lawncare decisions: Formal and informal neighborhood conforming effects on fertilizer use

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Residential lawncare is understood to be a multi-scale process. In this article, we estimate a statistical model of household fertilizer decisions that characterizes household- and neighborhood-scale influences, emphasizing both informal and formal neighborhood effects. We develop a novel methodological approach that leverages spatially explicit parcel-level tax assessor data to examine informal neighborhood conforming pressures based on quantifiable metrics of property characteristics for each sampled household relative to surrounding neighbors. Using survey data from 2,635 households in the Baltimore metro region (in Maryland, USA), the statistical model is estimated for two sequenced decisions faced by households—whether to fertilize, and if so with what frequency. Results reveal that several household demographic and informal neighborhood variables are significant for one decision but not the other, demonstrating the importance of disaggregating these two decision stages. Informal neighborhood effects are primarily significant for the initial decision on whether to fertilize, perhaps because this decision is more readily observable by surrounding neighbors. Effects of formal neighborhood characteristics are significant in both fertilizer decisions but vary between homeowner and neighborhood associations and over the two sequential decisions. The widespread availability of parcel-level tax assessor data enables application of this novel approach in other regions to examine informal neighborhood pressures on fertilizer use or other lawncare behaviors. © 2023 Elsevier B.V.

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Landscape and Urban Planning

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fertilizer; homeowners associations; landscape preferences; nonpoint source pollution; residential lawns