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Got Lawn?
by Robert Soloway

I just got back inside from mowing my lawn. I do this about once a month just to keep my neighbors from getting crazy. My next-door neighbor keeps her lawn like a putting green so I’m sure she thinks of my lawn as the “rough”. So, to those of my neighbors who are upset, I apologize.

Truth be told though, I’m not happy about the situation, either. I think lawns are dumb. In case you haven’t noticed, lawns are not natural to most of the country. If you want to know what is natural, go to any undisturbed space. 90% of us will not see grass. If you see anything growing, it will be trees and bushes. Most of us live in woodland not grasslands. Of course, some of America is tropical and even desert, where lawns are totally ridiculous.

The only time I ever see my neighbors on their lawns is when they mow or rake them. No one actually does anything on them; plays on them, sits on them, or picnics on them. It’s just the look of a lawn they like.

Grass isn’t good for the environment, either. I’ve heard that one tree cleans more air than an acre of grass. And no one has to use weed poisons and chemical fertilizers to help trees grow. Trees provide shade in the summer reducing my cooling bill. In the Fall the leaves become fertilizer for next year. Those of you who rake up your leaves, bag them, and send them away, just threw away natures way of keeping the soil healthy. Then to replace all that goodness, we hire a company whose name (I won’t say it) proudly combines the words “chemical” and “lawn” as though they belong together. My dogs run on that grass and sniff the stuff they put down. Note, the Chemical-Lawn man wears a mask when he sprays it. How good can that be for anyone? Why don’t we just put down astro-turf and forget it?

And there is the water we waste on the lawns. My trees can live through almost anything. Do we really need to be wasting our precious water on grass?

Besides that, all the cutting and trimming is cruel to your plants. Do you think grass likes being an inch and a half? If it did, it would just stay that length. Do you think bushes wants to look like rectangles? If god wanted plants to be geometric shapes, he’d have made them grow that way. Add to all this, the noise pollution and air pollution that the mowers, trimmer, and blowers put out. I just love being awakened by the gardeners who start out about 7:30 each morning. One Saturday I listened all day, and there was never a moment when I couldn’t hear a motorized lawn tool in use.

Did you know that lawns were “brought” here from England as a way for the American middle class to emulate the English aristocracy, who had large lawns? Do you know why the aristocracy had large lawns? They had livestock! The lawn fed the goats, sheep, cows and horses. Got cows? Are we so shallow as to model ourselves after the English rich of the 18th century for no practical reason? British middle class homes, by contrast, have “gardens” not lawns. Want to make some use of the front yard? Plant something edible. For all the time and energy wasted cutting natures growth down every week (literally mowing it down), you could be farming your own herbs and veggies.

So here is my suggestion. Rip up the grass; give nature a few months and you will have woods developing in front of your house. You might luck into a few wild flowers along the way. Put a few veggies into a sunny open space and you’ve got something worth admiring.

I say, give up the fight. Sleep late Saturday and then go outside and watch all the young trees growing in your yard. Watching trees grow is much more relaxing than mowing and it’s quiet, clean, natural, and helpful for the planet.

I apologize to the gardeners of the world. It’s nothing personal. I’m just not a fan of lawns. I see lawns as an attempt to re-create nature, using pieces of nature, placed where they look good but are not necessarily natural. So is it still nature?

Here’s the funniest part of all. When I finally do get around to cutting my plot of grass, it is incredibly thick. My neighbor meanwhile, has bare patches that the chemical-lawn man works to thicken. It may be hard for some of you to imagine, but grass actually gives off its own seeds, when it get about a foot tall. Keep it under two inches and you are off to Home Depot. You end up throwing down grass seed in a field of grass. Am I the only one that finds something bizarre in that?

By next summer, I plan to have all my grass gone; completely replaced by bushes, trees, pine straw, pebbles and paving stones. On Saturdays, I’ll be sleepin’ in, so try to keep the noise down. Thanks.

Published: Jul 15,2008 21:20
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