Plowing or mowing? rural sprawl in Nelson County, Kentucky

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7 Scopus citations


Low-density exurban development is understood at the macro scale to be widespread land use that changes rural areas. At the site scale it is poorly distinguished as a landscape type. Exurban development must be better understood if it is to be appropriately managed. This research documents the land use and landscape characteristics of exurban development in a portion of Nelson County, Kentucky, so as to better understand the patterns of use of exurban properties and the visual and cultural character of the resulting landscape. Along roads, the distribution of exurban property patterns causes changes in visual experience disproportionate to changes across the entire rural landscape because new residential sites cluster along existing roads. At the scale of individual sites, landscape design patterns viewed from roads are more similar to suburban properties than to traditional rural homesteads. A variety of small-scale agricultural activities, however, take place on exurban properties, which present a balanced mix of domestic, agricultural, and naturalized land uses including barns, fencing, pastures, row cropping, hayfields, wood-lots, orchards, and other investments. The extensive small-scale agricultural use of properties has implications for land- use-management strategies that offer alternatives to higher-density development as a primary antidote to rural sprawl.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-234
Number of pages17
JournalLandscape Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Exurban development
  • Rural land-scape
  • Rural sprawl

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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