Environmental attitudes predict native plant abundance in residential yards

Megan M. Wheeler, Kelli L. Larson, Dena Bergman, Sharon J. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Native plant landscaping can provide unique support for native wildlife in urban settings, but the drivers of native plant inclusion in private residential yards are not well characterized. As with other pro-environmental behaviors, native plant landscaping is likely driven by a combination of resident and landscape attributes. We ask, how do resident attitudes, knowledge, plant choice priorities, demographics, and parcel structure predict existing native plant abundance? To address this question, we compared resident characteristics with front yard woody vegetation in 105 parcels in Phoenix, Arizona. Although many residents had positive attitudes toward native plants, less than a third of woody plants in most yards were native. Native woody plant abundance was higher in xeric rock-covered yards where residents believed native plants belonged in the city, prioritized choosing native plants, and had higher household income. Reported knowledge about native plants was low, but did not predict native woody plant abundance. Although native plants in the arid environment of Phoenix are adapted to low water conditions, residents who prioritized low water use plant selection had fewer native plants, highlighting an opportunity for native plant marketing. These results suggest that educational campaigns to increase resident knowledge of native plant identification and care are unlikely to result in greater native plant abundance in the residential landscape. Marketing native plants to highlight qualities such as low water needs and addressing barriers such as horticultural availability and expense should be further investigated as potential methods of increasing native plant resources in urban environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104443
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Environmental attitudes
  • Environmental behavior
  • Native plants
  • Residential yards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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