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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

February 2007 Issue

Research Design Connections
Studies examine appealingá landscapes, residential stormwater runoff, and why plants are good for streambanks.

By Jean Marie Cackowski-Campbell, ASLA, and Sally Augustin

Research Design Connections William Brown

Landscape Architecture, in partnership with the web-based newsletter Research Design Connections, uses this column to report current research of interest to landscape architects from a wide array of disciplines. We welcome your comments, suggestions about future topics, and studies you have encountered in your own practice.

Natural Highway Landscapes:
Drivers Like the View

When it comes to highway roadsides, less is moreŚless intensive management and more ecological management, that is. Canadian researchers Jose Froment and Gerald Domon found that when highway embankments are mowed less frequently and natural vegetation becomes more visually prominent, drivers preferred the view. Switching from intensive management of highway landscapes, which entails mowing the embankments several times a year, to ecological management, which in this case means mowing every three to five years, reduces the work of highway departments and creates the sorts of views that drivers desire.

Seeking to investigate the aesthetic qualities of ecologically managed highways, Froment and Domon gave disposable cameras to 38 drivers who regularly traveled a 52-kilometer stretch of highway. The researchers asked the drivers to photograph the landscapes or features within them that they found most enjoyable.

In the next phase of the project, the researchers sent participants prints of the photographs that clearly showed the difference between ecologically and intensively managed roadsides. The researchers asked participants to circle the enjoyable scene or feature in the photograph and, optionally, to provide comments about the images. Twenty-seven of the 38 participants returned the questionnaires, and all but one submitted comments.

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