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J Environ Qual. 2004 Mar-Apr;33(2):565-75.

Characterization of turf practices in five North Carolina communities.

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Soil Science Department, North Carolina State University, Box 7619, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.


Limited information exists on specific urban lawn care practices in the United States. We conducted a door-to-door lawn care survey in five North Carolina communities to determine suburban fertilizer, pesticide, and water use. These communities, Cary, Goldsboro, Kinston, New Bern, and Greenville, are mostly located within the Neuse River basin, a nutrient-sensitive water resource. Residents in Cary used lawn care companies more than twice as frequently as residents in the other communities (43 compared with 20%). Cary had the smallest mean lawn size (445 m2), while the largest was in Goldsboro (1899 m2). Tall fescue [Festuca arundinacea Schreb.] was the predominant grass type in Cary (99%), and centipedegrass [Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro) Hack.] or centipedegrass mixtures were the predominant grass types in Greenville and New Bern. Kinston had the lowest fertilizer usage with only 54% of the residents using fertilizer; Cary had the highest rate of 83%. The average N fertilizer rate applied to the lawns was dissimilar ranging from 24 to 151 kg N ha(-1). Analysis of variance results for fertilizer rates and household income indicated a significant difference (P < 0.05) in application rate between high- and medium-income levels and the low-income level. Cary, Goldsboro, and Greenville had approximately the same number of fertilizer applications per year (1.5), whereas the average number of fertilizer applications per year in New Bern was 3.0. Most household residents (53%) used instructions on the bag and either grass type and/or lawn area to guide them on fertilizer application rates.

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