The Lawn as a Social and Cultural Phenomenon in Perth, Western Australia

Maria Ignatieva, Michael Hughes, Ashok Kumar Chaudhary, Fahimeh Mofrad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Lawns, introduced in Australia through English colonial heritage, dominate public spaces in cities, serving various ecosystem functions. Australian lawns consist of non-native grasses that differ from native original vegetation and require intensive management and maintenance. This study explores public perspectives on urban lawns in Perth, Western Australia, an area largely overlooked in ecological and social research in the context of Australia compared to Europe and North America. This paper presents empirical research on public perceptions of urban lawns and alternatives in Perth, Western Australia. The study explores social values and preferences regarding traditional lawns and new options, considering visual appearance, uses, and maintenance. Findings from an online questionnaire, involving 171 respondents, identified seven categories based on a content analysis of lawn definitions: flat area; ground covered by grass; maintained; non-native vegetation; open
space; recreational space; and turf grass. The results revealed that respondents most value lawns for aesthetics, cooling and recreation (exercises, walking pets, as a transit area, passive recreation, and social gatherings). At the same time, participants demonstrated an environmental awareness of lawns and the necessity of revisiting the existing planning and maintenance routine based on irrigation and intensive mowing by considering several alternative solutions. While valuing new solutions such as Scaevola patches in dedicated areas and “weedy lawns”, participants still preferred alternatives closest in appearance to a conventional lawn (e.g., lawn grass with Dichondra and lawn grass with
clover). The study emphasizes the need for a ‘blended model’ of urban lawns, combining durability with heat-resistant, biodiverse vegetation to address social values and environmental concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number191
Number of pages28
JournalLand
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2024

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