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View Full Version : Controlling Behavior of People with Elevated Landscape Care


mdvaden
06-08-2011, 11:33 PM
Just wrote a new web page article tonight. About changing the behavior of people through maintenance of grounds or landscaping. Actually, I had a similar page a few years ago, and forgot why I removed it. But the principles are so important, it seemed worth repeating.

Here's the text:

Most people don't realize how much we can affect behavior of other people by the way that we maintain landscaping or grounds. I think that design elements and plant selection can affect behavior too, but I'm going to share just one story to drive this point home.

Years ago, I worked at several golf courses, including some country clubs. In fact, it way my main entry level to horticulture and tree care.

At one point, another greenskeeper and myself began working for one of Portland's munipal golf courses: Eastmoreland Golf Course. I came from Columbia Edgewater Country Club, and the other man from Tualatin Country Club.

Eastmoreland's bunkers (aka sand traps) at that time were pretty raggity looking. Sand had eroded from the banks down to the low spots, the edges were irregular and weedy looking, and some spots puddled from bad drainage or because the sand was too thin.

Morning duties for one or more greenskeepers, is to move the hole on the green for the flag, and smooth-out the sand bunkers. Technically and ethically, the golfers are supposed to smooth out foot prints after they take a shot. But every morning, we would find 1, 2, 3 sets of foot print trails in each bunker.

Completely aside from the footprint or morning grooming issue, the ex-Tualatin greenskeeper and I asked the Eastmoreland superintendent for a go-ahead to dial-in every bunker on the 18 hole golf course. He agreed, and over the period of a couple of months we finished them all. We gave them a crisp detailed edge, modified the outline and shapes, added sand as needed, increased the depth where sand eroded, and corrected drainage to eliminate some puddling.

In the end, the bunkers were so nice, they were as good looking as those at Portland Country Club, if not better. We should know, too. Greenskeepers had an extra fringe benefit of golfing free at other golf courses and country clubs. So we played at Portland Country Club, Riverside CC, Waverly CC, etc.. Nobody had nicer looking bunkers than the ones we improved and detailed.

So what else changed?

After the maintenance improvement, we would around each golf green to move the pins, but there were hardly any footprints in the bunkers. Maybe 2 or 3 sets of footprints per each 9 holes.

Previously, there were like several sets of footprints per bunker, about 900% worse.

And there were already signs out on the golf course before all of this, that reminded golfers to rake after themselves. So we learned that taking maintenance to the highest level actually changed the behavior of people much more than signs in this case.

Keep this in mind when you design or maintain landscaping, both commercially or residentially. If you let the landscape care go sour and neglected, don't be surprised if some people follow that lead. If you take exceptional care of your landscaping, expect it to be treated with respect much more so.

rob7233
06-09-2011, 01:30 PM
Interesting observation. I can see where it applies.

Some may say it's just the "pressure" of keeping up with the Joneses that may change the neighbors' behavior. No body wants to have the worst landscape on the block. Raise the standard while raising the expectation.

mdvaden
06-09-2011, 06:37 PM
What really brought this concept to mind recently, was doing a consultation for a motel in Grants Pass, Oregon.

The grounds and rooms looked so nice, I thought that it must have a positive on the attitude of the gals who clean the rooms.

Someone could walk away from each room with pride and satisfaction.

Compared to the maids or whatever the job title is, who clean at, say, the Motel 6 in Eureka, CA, where the rooms are showing wear and the blacktop dominates the inconspicuous lawn and stuff.

Here's a glimpse of the Redwood Motel, for example.

Even the hard boiled eggs were shelled already and wrapped for convenience. And the coffee pots were ready to serve coffee all day long. Reminded me of when and why I enjoyed working at a certain country club back in the 1980's.

agrostis
06-10-2011, 07:03 PM
I don't know if you can control behavior with landscaping. But it can definitely put someone in a more positive frame of mind. Nice surroundings, whether indoor or out make for a better experience. So i think that your paper is very accurate.

JDUtah
06-10-2011, 10:13 PM
Sounds like an upscale version of....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory