The green, green grass of home

Life is funny. When I was growing up, drunk drivers were a source of amusement, something we all giggled at—ha-ha! He’s had too many beers and he’s weaving all over the road! Gradually, over several decades, that societal attitude turned around completely. We now take drunk driving seriously and prosecute it seriously. The laughing stopped a long time ago.

I think about this when I wonder whether other attitudes in society will ever change. On the drive to our swim club, we pass a number of houses, out in the country, that are on vast lots. And those vast lots are planted with grass. And even while I admire the smooth green velvet lawns their owners cultivate, I feel the same small, irksome tug of conscience I do now when I pass a golf course: Who in the world needs all that grass? Grass is incredibly labor-intensive as a ground cover. Lawns need to be mowed, aerated, smoothed, fertilized, weeded—and if I know my neighbors on the way to the swim club, they’re not using eco-friendly products for any of this. They’re shooting Round-Up in every direction, rather than get down on their hands and knees and eradicate the weeds.

I know, I know–it’s easy for me to talk, when all I have is a postage-stamp-sized backyard and a lil’ strip of grass on the side of my house. But you know, that’s part of why we bought this place—and part of why after we did, the first thing I did was dig up grass and make gardens instead. Sure, gardens are lab0r-intensive, too, but I don’t work nearly as hard keeping up my gardens as I do that tiny patch of lawn. I guess what I’m wondering is—will the ecological viewpoint, like the anti-drunk-driver viewpoint, have even a ghost’s chance of ever prevailing? Will we ever see golf courses covered in meadow grasses, or even backyards full of black-eyed Susans and ox-eye daisies and Queen Anne’s lace? What about all the grass that’s grown along highways and turnpikes? Why not wreathe them in poppies and cornflowers instead? The whole idea of lawns is so strange and phony—they’re the antithesis of naturalness, and isn’t nature supposed to be, well, natural?

Yeah, like that’ll ever happen. But … stranger things have!

Photo by Paul Frederickson licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

1 Comment

  1. July 19, 2010 at 10:46 am

    […] not forget to mow your lawn! But is a lawn really necessary? Some thoughts about grass and lawns: […]

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