In a world where it seems that you often have to take one side or the other on an issue, a recent study by the University of Florida revealed that when it comes to irrigation, people agree with both sides.

The university surveyed 1,620 urban residents with landscapes to find out how much homeowners value the following characteristics for their lawns: aesthetics, environment, food benefits, habitat, health and comfort, money, social and personal well-being. You can access the results by visiting bit.ly/uflawnstudy.

The results showed respondents want a lush lawn and want to also conserve water. There wasn’t a divide between maintaining a beautiful lawn or conserving water.

Laura Warner, a University of Florida assistant professor of agricultural education and communication and survey conductor, and her research team were surprised to find so many people who valued both beauty and conservation.

Past findings from other researchers showed that some people value aesthetics over conservation, Warner said.

While only about 1,600 people were surveyed, this does dispel a stereotype that lawn lovers and those who want to be wise when it comes to water have to pick one way over the other.

There’s a group that wants both and is willing to at least be educated about how to do it. This is where you can play a positive role. Don’t assume that all of your customers want you to make their lawn look nice at all costs and then move to the next one. They are open to suggestions.

Don’t assume that all of your customers want you to make their lawn look nice at all costs and then move to the next one.

One other major survey finding was that about one-third of residents placed considerable value on all of the benefits listed in the survey. But Warner did caution that more research was needed to find out the nature of this relationship.

“We aren’t sure if valuing all these landscape benefits causes conservation, or vice-versa or neither,” she said.

And while this survey deals with just residential customers, commercial property managers are also interested in water conservation. We spoke with a couple property managers for a story on page 34, and they both said managers are open to sustainable practices in the commercial space.

We also recently did a virtual conference, which you can watch by visiting bit.ly/lawncomm, about servicing commercial properties, and sustainability was mentioned as a viable option in the commercial marketplace.

So, the signs show the interest is there. Now it’s up to the industry to provide the customers with the right solutions. Even if a customer doesn’t seem interested at all in saving water, you might be surprised what happens if you ask. – Brian Horn