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Climate Change: Lawn Care and Watering, The Florida Factor

Aug 25, 2015 05:37 PM EDT

With current droughts devastating many areas throughout the world, wasting precious water resources becomes a top concern. However, a recent study found that an increasingly high percentage of Florida residents waste water because they are unsure how to conserve or face pressures from Home Owner's Associations (HOAs) for perfect lawns.

"The purpose of [our] study was to examine the perceptions of homeowners...who have automated irrigation systems [about] the use of norms that could be employed to reduce water used for lawn care," study co-author Liz Felter of the University of Florida said in a statement

Sixty-four percent of the drinking water used by homes in central Florida is put toward irrigation, which increases to 88 percent during summer months, according to a recent study published in the Special Issue Section of Technology and Innovation.

This study, which looked at Orange County, Florida home-owners who have automated-irrigation systems, notes that Florida homeowners are ready and willing to comply with government agency-imposed lawn watering restrictions to conserve water. The problem is, the study noted, homeowners are confused about how to do so and they risk being penalized by their HOAs for not having green lawns.

Besides examining drought-awareness, the research also looked at the roles of social marketing and peer pressure in influencing homeowners' watering choices. To test this, focus groups of homeowners were asked to answer questions and participate in discussions. Participants were asked to describe how they watered their lawns and the conservation methods they used.

"One of the major themes to emerge from the focus groups was a lack of knowledge on how to care for the grass," Felter explained in the release. Other themes included confusion about watering restriction days, an inability to use the timer correctly, and pressure from the HOAs to water excessively to achieve perfect grass, according to the study. 

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