Lawn to Lake: Lessons Learned from a Collaborative Natural Lawn Care Program

Schneemann, M. (2015). “Lawn to Lake: Lessons Learned from a Collaborative Natural Lawn Care Program.” Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education, 156(1), 56-67. doi:10.1111/j.1936-704X.2015.03204.x [Open access]

Abstract: Illinois‐Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) led a multi‐state, collaborative natural lawn care outreach program promoting sustainable lawn care practices at the community and household level. The programmatic goal was to improve Lake Michigan basin ecosystem health by reducing pesticide, synthetic fertilizer, and irrigation water use and runoff within the watershed through changing the practices of those responsible for the creation and upkeep of lawns. Targeted audiences were educated about the relationship between Great Lakes Basin watershed health and lawn care practices as well as trained in natural, low‐input lawn care methods. The program aimed at achieving efficiency by leveraging collaborating partner resources to adapt existing materials and transfer programs across partners and states. Anticipated program impacts were estimated prior to implementation based on previous program evaluations and available research, and additional evaluations were conducted during the project period (2010–2014). Over the outreach period, over 300 landscape professionals, 400 Master Gardeners and teachers, and 2,000 homeowners were trained in natural lawn care practices. Using an evaluation transfer approach, this effort translates into an estimated reduction of 3.4 million pounds of weed and feed applied to lawns per year with associated decreases in pesticides, phosphorous, and irrigation. This paper reflects on lessons learned though the natural lawn care program evaluation experience and makes recommendations for future programming.

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