Yard-scale landscape designs can influence environmental quality through effects on habitat, stormwater runoff, and water quality. Native plant gardens may have ecological benefits, and previous research has shown that yards using these plants can be designed in ways that people find attractive. This study examines whether people are willing to pay more for more ecologically benign designs than for a lawn. A contingent choice survey was conducted in southeast Michigan in which people were presented with four different yard designs (three of which included native plants) in three different settings, with different monthly maintenance costs for each design. Respondents were asked to rank their choices of the yards while considering the maintenance costs they were presented. Results suggest that people are willing to pay more for well-designed yards including native plants than for lawns, and that their increased willingness to pay exceeds any increase in costs associated with the native plantings. These results should encourage homeowners, landscape designers, and the landscape plant industry to work with native plants. In this study, people were willing to pay more for designs that present gains for the environment, without government intervention and without social cost.
- Ecological design;
- Landscape architecture;
- Native plants;
- Contingent choice
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Gloria E. Helfand is associate professor of environmental economics in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.
Joon Sik Park is a PhD student in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.
Joan I. Nassauer is professor of landscape architecture in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.
Sandra Kosek received her PhD from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, with a specialization in landscape architecture.