Lawns, the Environment, and What’s Next!

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Lawns have long had a treasured role in the United States. For many American homeowners, the law has represented success, physical evidence they’ve reached the dream of personal independence and middle class status. To these people, lawns signify prosperity, self-control, and freedom.

Not everyone agrees. Many people, including ecologists, landscapers, individualists, and earth-conscious homeowners have begun to question the practicality, and even the ethics, of the bright green, regularly-mown yard. Lawns, it seems, are losing some of their verdant luster. The growing coterie of naysayers have a variety of reasons and proposed solutions for the modern yard.

The Environmental Impact

While the extent of lawn care’s effects on the world’s ecosystems is a little unclear, the evidence nonetheless remains that a society in which people let their grass grow wild would ease some ecological strains. Nowhere is this more apparent than in parts of the American southwest, which in large part consists of arid desert revamped to meet the desires of wealthy landowners.

Water use is the most dramatic environmental effect of lawn care. According to NASA, water resources are becoming strained and will continue to do so as populations increase and the climate warms. It takes a lot of water to make a yard in Arizona look as green as a yard in Washington.


For others, the trouble with lawns has nothing to do with global conditions and everything to do with aesthetics. Lawns are boring, in other words. Some trendsetting landscapers seek to de-green the urban environment, replacing generic buzz cut grass with exotic rock gardens and other types of yard designs.

So what sorts of options do homeowners have if they seek to go their own way? Well, the grass is always greener on the side, and some people look across the sea for lawn-spiration. Japan and China have long been world leaders in rock garden styles, Russians have long used their yards to grow food, and more populous places do away with yards entirely, squeezing in homes wherever there’s room.

All sorts of innovative approaches to lawn care have been fruitful. Why stick with the standard? There are endless varieties of approaches you can take with your yard.

People who want to change things up but still love a green yard can try other types of green, such as mosses and prairie grasses. These green alternatives are low-maintenance, yet retain enough tradition color and spirit to avoid irritating the neighbors.


For a select few, the rebellion against lawns is more about proving a point than anything else. Many people have pointed the ways in which neighborhood groups around the country can be overzealous when policing the yards of individual homeowners. No one likes a neighbor nagging about something so insignificant as a too-long lawn.

If the someone owns a home, shouldn’t they be free to do with it what they please? Some rugged individualists point out that broadly demanding that everyone’s grass maintains a constant height hints of tyranny and groupthink. This symbol of American success instead becomes a symbol of conformity. The tallest blade gets mowed down?

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