Abstract

Conservation efforts in rural landscapes seek to improve the multifunctional nature of land uses for people and the biotic communities that support them. In these environments, existing turfgrass lawns mowed routinely through the summer present an opportunity where changes in management from intensively managed monocultures to diverse native perennial vegetation can stack environmental benefits by improving soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat. Conversion of lawns to pollinator habitat can help achieve continental goals of reversing declines in high-profile species such as the monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus and native bees. Here, we examine the financial implications for landowners and managers considering conversion of lawns to pollinator habitat in rural landscapes. We examined financial factors over a 10-y management horizon in three unique scenarios with a range of expenses: self-maintenance of lawns, contracted maintenance of lawns, and establishment and management of pollinator habitat. Our analyses indicate conversion to pollinator habitat was appreciably less expensive ($54–$167·acre−1·y−1) than continued self-care ($637–$1,007·acre−1·y−1) or contracted care ($326–$1,034·acre−1·y−1) of lawns over a 10-y period. These results establish the financial benefits for landowners or land managers considering an alternative management paradigm of existing lawns. These financial benefits complement existing literature, demonstrating multiple ecological benefits of diverse native perennial vegetation.

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