The lawn as a social and cultural phenomenon in Sweden

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Abstract

Lawns have a significant influence on the cityscape as one of the essential elements of green spaces and an important part of people's everyday lives. Most people in the Western world view lawns as a compulsory element of the urban landscape, almost an icon, without questioning their social, symbolic, ecological or aesthetic values. This research is a part of the conceptual framework and methodological approaches that are being used in an ongoing transdisciplinary collaboration project to study lawns in Sweden as a social and ecological phenomenon. The overall aim of this study was to investigate social and cultural perceptions of lawns, as well as motives behind decisions about the establishment and management of lawns in Sweden. Two multi-family housing typologies, the ‘Million Programme’ and ‘People's Homes’, were examined due to their dominance in Swedish cities. We also studied how an alternative vision of conventional lawns can be applied and accepted by urban residents. We estimated lawn cover in multi-family housing areas and links to people's perception and use of lawns. Questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and observational studies were used (N = 300). Our results showed that people like lawns even if they do not always directly use them. Lawns cover the most significant amount of outdoor spaces in all multi-family residential areas and accompany people everywhere from the house to the schoolyard or park. The total lawn cover in the study areas was 27.8%. Lawns were particularly valued as important places for different outdoor activities (playing, resting, picnicking, walking, socialising) and enjoying the green colour. However people do not want to use a vast monotonous lawn, but a variety of spaces that provide good conditions for different senses (sound, smell, touch and sight) and activities. Alternative lawns were also appreciated by many citizens, politicians, planners and managers. The implementation of new types of lawns requires special planning and design solutions adjusted for each particular neighbourhood.

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Ignatieva, M., Eriksson, F., Eriksson, T., Berg, P., & Hedblom, M. (2017). The lawn as a social and cultural phenomenon in Sweden. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 21, 213–223. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2016.12.006

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