Information for Homeowners

To opt-in to our study, please read below and answer the question at the bottom of the page.
Project description: The goal of this study is to understand the outcomes of different yard management practices on plants, soil, insects, birds, and water in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Our Baltimore-based study is part of a larger project that compares residential landscapes in Phoenix, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Question Title

Our research question: 

How do soils, plants, and animals differ in different types of residential yards?

Across the country, most residential suburban landscape s are composed of a mixture of green grass lawns, shrubs, trees, and built structures. More recently, some homeowners have been choosing different types of landscapes, such as rain gardens that reduce storm-water runoff or biodiverse gardens that attract wildlife like birds and bees. In our research, we will explore how yard management and type affects soil and the composition of plants, birds, and pollinators.

Yard Sampling Description

If you elect to participate in our study, here is what we will do in your yard:

We will visit your yard several times starting in June 2017, with a possible visit as late as August next year (2018). Most of these visits will be brief (less than an hour). We will email or call you at least one day before we visit. You do not need to be home when we are there, but if you are, we would be happy to speak with you about our study.

One of our first tasks will be to identify all the different plant species in your front and back yards. For this task, your yard will be visited by a team of 3-5 people (A mix of students and environmental professionals). We will need access to both your front and back yard for these visits. No plants will be disturbed.

We will also make several visits to observe birds in your yard and to collect insects. Bird counts will be conducted by one field technician in the early morning and will take place from the front sidewalk. We will not disturb you during these visits!

For the insect collections, one or two field techs will visit the front and back yards and bury several small plastic cups in the ground for one day. The cups will be filled with water and dish soap to catch bugs. The cups will be removed after one day and all holes will be filled.

Later this summer, we will return to your yard to collect a small amount of soil. This task will involve taking three small (about the width of a quarter) soil cores in your yard. Holes will be filled and disturbance will be minimized. Before digging any soil cores, we will Blue Stake the yard, which means that someone from the city will come by and designate where the electrical, gas, and water lines are located using spray paint on the street in front of your house.

Finally, in the fall, we will contact you one more time for a short discussion about your yard management choices and what you plan to do in the future.

Thank you for reading this information, and we hope that you will participate in our study!

Would you like to opt-in to be apart of our research?