Perspectives on the American Lawn

by Shahla Farzan / The Mindful Californian

  • Sheep Grazing the White House Lawn circa WWI. Credit: White House Historical Assocation

IT’S HARD TO remember an October where the distant roar of a leaf-blower wasn’t the soundtrack. Every Saturday my father would sip his tea, waiting for the leaves to dry in the early morning sun. Eventually he would put on his ancient Connecticut State Police baseball cap and disappear into the shed, reappearing with the leaf-blower in tow. While I helped (i.e., picked out my favorites to press in the pages of my journal), my father consigned the brightly colored invaders to the compost pile. As leaf season came to close, there was an audible sigh of relief in our household. Thank goodness the snow would cover our endlessly needy lawn.

My father isn’t alone. When it comes to our lawns our love knows no bounds. Each year, we spend countless hours seeding, watering, weeding, spraying, and trimming in pursuit of the true American dream: a flawless lawn. While we may feel the glow of satisfaction after a day of yard-work (or perhaps just the tingling of a fresh sunburn), our successes on the road to lawn nirvana have had little to do with human grit and more to do with our proclivity for chemistry. The lawn care section of a typical hardware store resembles an arsenal: squadrons of herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers waiting to assist in the battle for control of your lawn.

Given that lawns produce no tangible goods, it is extraordinary how fiercely we defend them. In less than 200 years, the lawn has become deeply entrenched in the American psyche. Some, including nature writer David Quammen have ruefully referred to this phenomenon as the rise of American Lawnism. While lawns may appear mundane to some, our irrational reverence for them and the social coercion that works to maintain them is the stuff of soap operas. Lawns are ingrained in the daily routine of our lives, but why? And perhaps more importantly, to what end?

AS I WRITE this post, wildfires are ravaging Colorado once again. Bears are flattening tents in search of s’more supplies. The San Andreas Fault is a ticking time bomb. I’m sure you get the picture. Nature is untamable and at times, utterly unpredictable. Lawns act as a buffer against capricious Mother Nature, providing a means of control in a fundamentally uncertain world. We subdue the tangled bank, replacing it with a lush green carpet instead. At the same time, lawns provide an assurance that humans can nurture a safer, more manageable form of nature. With each springtime flush of greenery, a homeowner can maintain a connection to the outside world.

In theory, lawns provide a sense of community and the appearance of a visually unified front. When a neighbor neglects his front lawn, it is the equivalent of disregarding the unwritten social contract. And that’s when things get ugly. In “Why Mow? The Case Against Lawns” Michael Pollan recalls his first encounter with the neighborhood lawn mob:

“Whether owing to laziness or contempt for his neighbors I was never sure, but [my father] could not see much point in cranking up the Toro more than once a month or so. The grass on our quarter-acre plot towered over the crew-cut lawns on either side of us and soon disturbed the peace of the entire neighborhood … No one said anything now, but you could hear it all the same: Mow your lawn or get out … Our next-door neighbor, a mild engineer who was my father’s last remaining friend in the development, was charged with the unpleasant task of conveying the sense of community to my father. It was early on a summer evening that he came to deliver his message … squeaking out what he had been told to say about the threat to property values… My father’s reply could not have been more eloquent. Without a word he strode out to the garage and cranked up the rusty old Toro … He pushed it out to the curb and then started back across the lawn to the house, but not in a straight line: he swerved right, then left, then right again. He had cut an “S” in the high grass. Then he made an “M,” and finally a “P.” These are his initials, and as soon as he finished writing them he wheeled the lawn mower back to the garage, never to start it up again.”

IN MANY RESPECTS, our preference for evergreen, grass monocultures has had impacts that extend far beyond our own backyards. To sustain our lawns, we have developed toxic insecticides and herbicides as well as exerted surprising pressure on our natural resources. Herbicides, such as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (a major ingredient in Agent Orange) initially allowed homeowners to exclude undesirable plant species. However, these newly created monocultures were also vulnerable to insect attack, leading to a long march through a series of highly toxic insecticides. The highly mobile nature and long half-life of many of these compounds has ensured that they will persist in the environment long after we have perfected our lawns.

The non-native turfgrass now common across the United States is also ill suited to most areas in which it is planted. In seasonally arid regions, such as California, large volumes of water are used to keep turfgrass alive during the dry season. According to the Department of Water Resources 2005 update of the California Water Plan, California residents used approximately 8.9 million acre feet of water in 2000, or approximately 232 gallons per capita per day. Increasing demand for water has prompted many towns to limit water usage, but thirsty lawns have continued to contribute to the demand.

– § –

As the late afternoon sun slants across my own yard, it’s hard to imagine that this unassuming little patch of earth can be such a complex amalgam of history, social expectations, legal boundaries, and environmental impacts. The American lawn is becoming a highly politicized and contested landscape, but my dry square of California crabgrass quietly keeps on growing.

In the coming weeks, I will explore recent conflicts associated with the American lawn, as well as new efforts to reconcile landscaping and ecological constraints. 

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32 Comments
  1. Stephanie Blumm

    This article was interesting because it talked about the “American Dream” as the idea of owning a house with a perfect green yard all year long. Humans like to have full control over their possessions, but some things like nature are out of their control. Nature controls its own nutrient cycling and the decomposition/death is a key process in doing so. The attempt to maintain an ideal lawn means to alter the normal life cycle by introducing many toxic chemicals that have entered into the soils that will persist and cause future damage. The expectation of maintaining a green lawn is rooted within our culture of fitting in and following what is seen as “normal.” A social change would need to happen among homeowners that put value in preserving the environment instead of focusing on appearances

  2. Sharanjit Singh

    I believe that the amount of money and time spent on maintaining beautiful lawns is worthless. Other tasks such as planting more trees in the backyard can be worth more for our environment and ecology. I agree with the article that by using harmful herbicides, insecticides and pesticides we are increasing pressure on our natural resources because it is harming our environment negatively. I like the new rule we have now, where we could only water our lawns two days in the week. This is helping by limiting the usage of water and contributing by protecting us from drought.

  3. Quinn Stallcup

    Growing up with the ideal perspective of having a flawless lawn by maintaining it with all of these methods of keeping it green and healthy was always odd to me because there was never a sense of any consequences from doing these actions. After reading this article it gives a much broader and clearer sense that these methods of lawn maintenance are doing more harm than good. For example, when applying pesticides and herbicides to your lawn and later watering it, most of those chemicals will runoff into a storm drain and contaminate our water supply. Also, lawns require a large amount of water to maintain a healthy green color year round. With California currently going through a drought one thing is clear: these methods of lawn care will change because our requirement for fresh water is much more important than showing off how green your lawn is. This article does raise the questions what should be a new alternative for lawn care? What sustainable practices can be implemented to help the changing environment? And what is the next step or substitute for lawns? One thing I know is that people in California are going to find it difficult to change their methods of lawn care because it’s become part of the American psyche of watering it and putting pesticides and herbicides on your lawn because it will “help” your lawn grow and bring your community together. Across America, many people are unaware that they are causing more harm than good to their surrounding ecosystem because of these false ideals that have been engraved into many people’s everyday mindset. That is, if they don’t care for their lawns, it will create problems for their lawns and in their community. Overall the idea of a “flawless lawn” in America is just a delusion that will change once the reality begins to creep in. With the natural world continually changing eventually this will all change.

  4. Angilina Lor

    Wow, I have never really thought about this, even though my husband is crazy about keeping our lawn looking flawless. Just like what the article mentioned, he will spend hours each week, caring for our lawn. And then he complains to me about the neighbors who don’t keep their lawn clean. Unfortunately, in order for us to keep our grass the way we want it to look, there are many consequences such as using toxic chemicals to make this happen. I think as humans we want the best of everything, including having a perfect grass lawn. And we would go out of our way to make this happen. I think people just need to be more educated about the negative outcomes of perfecting our lawn, and maybe they will use less chemicals.

  5. Sara Johnson

    This article sheds a very bright light on what some people believe to be the appropriate “image” to uphold when owning a home with a landscape. Kids who lived on property with important chores of helping keep up with the land, we learn how to mow, weed, water, seed, etc. As we mature, without learning what is going on around us in the world, we take our experiences and believe that this is how it is supposed to be and honor the neighborhood code of keeping up with your landscape.
    As an adult, and with the knowledge that has been provided for us whether in college, at work, watching the news, we are able to better adapt to what is more realistic and was is more ecologically friendly. Most high end residential neighborhoods hire landscapers to come by weakly to water, seed, mow, weed, etc. without fully knowing the true time, and patience that goes into creating that “perfect lawn”. With all the resources out their in this day and age, the idea of change should not be taken as a negative connotation as most older traditionalists do. Instead we should embrace the concept of helping future lives sustain life on the planet and making it that much better for generations to come.

  6. Aaron Howse

    Growing up I never really thought about lawns and took them for granted as just something that was. Not being able to see what the alternative would be is probably a large factor in what my front yard looks like. I assume this is also the experience of many who have lawns and don’t question whether or not they are bad. As more innovative alternatives to lawns come up I think this can be changed as we are exposed to the possibilities of what our yards can be. Also misinformation seems to make committed lawn owners dug in as they choose to believe the “facts” that allow them to keep their lawns maintained. So information on the effect our lawns are having and the alternatives should eventually lead to future generations changing the way we utilize our yards.

  7. Shawn Alisea

    I have never loved, nor revered, nor defended my familes’ lawns. I’ve always hated them. Despite being allergic to many grasses, it was always my task to mow them (both of them, thanks to visitation rights), and endure the foul lawnmower exhaust, burning sun, and the long wheezing and sneezing attacks from filling the air with dry, dusty grass particles. As years went on, the amount of water they wasted in watering the lawns began to concern me as well. Over the years I tried many times to convince them to convert to something lower-maintenance. But they were never willing to consider it, and I still can’t understand why. To me, a lawn is nothing but trouble and waste, and completely undesirable. I truly hope that articles like this can chip away at whatever barrier is preventing people from changing their minds on this. Judging from my parents, it will be a difficult fight.

  8. Carl Nuza

    Lawns are great and beautiful. They are the first thing you notice when walking up to a new house. One can get a great deal of information about a homeowner by looking at their lawn. Apart from social status and public perception, lawns offer no other contribution to match the cost which people incur to keep them. However as a characteristic of the human race, people in general never do anything that does not benefit them in any aspect. Although there are people out there who understand that lawns are just that and they could be replaced with a garden that has tremendous ecological potential, there are also people who do not care about the environment. Or even if they do, they do not care enough to modify their “lawn ethics”. As such we need to call into the picture that side of humanity which drives everyone to do something if there is a benefit to them. How about little tax deductions for people who remove their lawns, government subsidies and other programs can encourage people not only to remove their lawns but also become advocates for a more diverse and productive front yard. There are more exhaustive ways to encourage people to participate in such causes listed on this website but to provide a better future for ourselves and our environment, we need to start rethinking our role in the ecosystem.

  9. Heather McDonough

    This article made me think of being a child in fall, my favorite time of year. People busy raking and blowing leaves while kids play in them. I have fond memories as a child collecting leaves for arts and crafts. I never as a child thought about all of the time and work that goes into landscaping. I saw the beauty in the flowers that grew and the bugs we would find during different times of the year. As I have aged and learned more about environmental issues, climate change, and reading this article, it is fascinating to think about how much has changed even in my short life. Today most people focus on the presentable yard opposed to ecologically friendly. The amount of money, water, pesticides, fertilizers, and energy that goes in to keeping the american lawn green is rather unfortunate. We acquire land to have our own little plot of nature, a place where we impose control and manipulate nature to our satisfaction without considering the cost – not even just financially but environmentally. Instead people often think of it as a way to fit in, impress our neighbors, and meet social expectations. I think today more people are understanding the benefits of maintaining biodiversity in their yard and keeping native plants around that are best suited for the environment, while requiring less resources to maintain, as well as the influence it can have on the bigger picture of urban sustainable living. We need to rethink what is important and make changes so future generations have healthy soils that can be used for production of food, such as fruits and vegetables instead of existing.

  10. Jean Stone

    When comparing the United States to a developing country, there are observable stark differences. One such difference is the standard of living versus survivability of a region. In a developed country, specifically the United States, it is common to see a row of green, precisely cut lawns. These are manicured not out of need for creating a better environment for food or other resources but solely for control of the natural environment. Looking outside of the U.S., there is a clear difference. Developing countries do develop land but out of need to survive for creating usable space for growing food or utilizing resources. The materialistic nature of developed countries has separated itself from nature so much that there is a mirage of what people believe nature to be versus those in developed countries who live off of the land. Inevitably, if this standard for control of nature not for its resources but simply appearance continues, it is scary to imagine that in 50 years other natural environments could be torn down only to be replaced with lawn and concrete simply for looks.

  11. Margaret Kashuba

    This article effectively addresses the American view of lawns. Here in America we like large yards where children can play, in which we can gather and barbecue, and just a spot to relax and enjoy. It is a possession, as it’s our land. We keep our houses clean and tidy because it looks nice and that is what is expected. If someone has a dirty house, people talk about it and look down on the owner. The same goes for lawns. When the whole neighborhood’s lawns are green and tidy, it looks uniform and tells others that these people care about where they live. When one passes a brown or overgrown lawn, it looks unkept, dirty, and careless. Some of the population has deviated from the norm and embraced the “Gold is the new green” campaign to increase water use awareness in the current drought. However the vast majority have kept their lawns green, or at least somewhat green because it is so difficult to depart from this ingrained view of a flawless lawn. We choose to conserve water in other ways, but we can’t let our lawn go because it is a depiction of our character as a person, and is what we envision as sightly. It gives us satisfaction and control over unpredictable nature; this is a point the article touched on that I had not thought about before. I liked that the article brought up that this lawn obsession has brought about the development of hundreds of toxic pesticides and fertilizers marketed to kill anything that threatens a pristine lawn. We are actually creating a more toxic environment then enhancing it when we put some more energy and care into our turfgrass. I think this is a great article and I enjoyed reading it. It is logical and illustrates why lawns are so important to us, drawing on the author’s childhod; however because the lawn is so scared to us, it will be extremely difficult to convince many to depart from their green, lush lawn.

  12. Jessica Burlison

    This article is so interesting because it is an amazing example of the human nature to outdo your neighbors. It shows how messed up human nature is and how, instead of appreciating natural nature, we strive to create green lush grass in front of our homes to prove to the neighborhood how supeiror you are in comparison. People are constantly striving to create new pesticides to kill off the unwanted, ugly weeds that invade our green lawns, but without thinking about the impact those chemicals are having on our natural habitat. People unfortunately only think about the short term effects of the products, like killing the weeds, but don’t think about the long term effects these horrible products have on our water source and also other habitats. People need to become more organically conscience about what products they use on their lawns in order to insure a more sustainable future for our natural habitat. Great article for teaching people how to be more nature conscience.

  13. Joshua Hudnall

    While this article uses the phrase “American Lawnism,” I feel that the idea of a lawn is simply the American extension to all of mankind’s everlasting quest to dominate nature. The lawn is simply our way of saying, “Look at what I have created!” There are no more frontiers in America to tame, no trails to blaze, no territories to homestead. Instead, we are each given the ability to purchase (for those of us who can afford it) a plot of land and do what we choose with it (pending local laws, hoa rules, etc). Another aspect of our dominance of nature is our damage and destruction to ecosystems, and unfortunately the American Lawn contributes to this as well. Watering our lawns, while providing only aesthetic appeal to our properties, is a wasteful use of available water (except for those that use grey water, good on them) that could be used for ecosystem maintenance, or even offset the amount used for agricultural purposes.

  14. Aman Percival

    The story about the neighbors getting mad that the lawn isn’t being mowed, is very amusing to me because I, myself, get very irritated when my own neighbors’ lawns are not neat and tidy. However, there are a few neighbors who have removed their lawns and placed beautiful drought-tolerant plants instead. I, myself, have not watered my lawn in almost a year but it is mowed every week nonetheless. When I first bought my house, I went out and bought some weed killers because it’s the normal thing to do if you want a nice pretty lawn. Now that I know more about ecology and environmental issues, there’s no way I would use weed killers again. Most people I think don’t even know that it’s bad to use herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides. It’s a normal part of your home care regime. I believe California needs to be proactive in educating the public about important issues such as monocultures and water conservation. There should be more workshops teaching people how to remove their lawns and be water efficient.

  15. Jacob Schmitz

    This article provides an interesting take on the average American’s view of lawns. It picks apart why it has become commonplace to desire a flawless lawn, going so far as to call it the new American dream. This is a foreign perspective to me, seeing as I don’t own a lawn and only tended to my parents’ because I had to. Therefore, I feel relatively distant from this ideality yet I can understand how people actually feel this way.
    The article makes a very solid case that Mother Nature is so uncertain and untamable that any appeared control of it gives the feeling of dominance. This goal for dominance has become the mentality of suburban America, who lay down acre after acre of tightly controlled green carpet. The author explains this phenomenon, saying that lawns provide an assurance that humans can nurture a safer, more manageable form of nature. Clearly, American’s have an infatuation with controlling things, including our surroundings which become apparent through this article. Through the use of herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers, the battle for control of our lawns is apparently the new American dream.
    However, this isn’t a victimless hobby. In seasonally arid regions like California, large volumes of water are used to keep grass lush and alive during the dry season. According to the Department of Water Resources 2005 update of the California Water Plan, California residents used approximately 8.9 million acre feet of water in 2000, or approximately 232 gallons per capita per day. Increasing demand for water along with shrinking water storages have prompted most cities to limit water usage, but thirsty lawns will continue to contribute to the demand.
    There is one take away from this article for me and that it’s not to care about the new American dream. This is an outdated mindset that doesn’t account for current conditions of drought, which are pretty severe to say the least. Water is a hot commodity as of late and to use this precious resource so loosely on lawns when they don’t even produce any tangible goods seems selfish. Taking this into account, allocation of water seems like that much more important of a task. Jobs will be generated from this, which is economically promising but environmentally speaking, America needs a serious change in priorities.

  16. Jennifer Saephanh

    I think that taking care of our lawns is important and should be incorporated as part of our routine. On the other hand, the use of all these man made products such as fertilizers and pesticides is unnecessary and are only considered accessories. I feel that we should just let mother nature do its part and let the grass or plants grow as they tend to do so normally. All we have to do it water it occasionally and maintain its length. This provides a clean environment for home owners and contributes to production of essential nutrients for insects. The idea of having ‘green grass’ is something that is portrayed to be the correct way to have your lawn. In reality, it is just an image that has been engraved in the minds of lawn enthusiasts. Like all life forms, grass goes through cycles of growth and eventually death. This is what we see when grass tends to drift from being green. It is just a nature occurring on its own; any manipulation to nature should be reduced.

  17. Melissa Montano

    I believe not only Californians, but most Americans especially men can relate to this article. The author gives it an interesting twist by adding her personal testimony about her own father and his experience with lawn maintenance. I myself have even been guilty of judging my fellow neighbors on my block based on how well maintained their lawn looks. Socially, the lawn has become the classic suburb American icon. A piece of nature that one can pridefully show to the world you still care and have time to mow the lawn (or that you can afford lawn service!).

  18. Katlin Parker

    This article makes some great points about the symbolism of the American lawn and why it is so lusted after. American traditions and cultural norms are constantly changing as our population continues to grow and climatic conditions continue to change. As the article mentioned, lawns do not produce any tangible goods. I think that it could be very beneficial if people started growing crops in place of their lawns. This would put the water used to good use. If people were able to grow their own food, they would buy less from farmers and less water would be needed for agriculture. Since they would be using the water instead, however, the water use would even out. This would keep people from using valuable water for their lawns and it would be a more sustainable form of food production.

  19. jessica ogunleye

    Our lawns are various form our own versions of environment. It shows how we care for and maintain our environment. “lawns provide a sense of community and the appearance of a visually unified front. When a neighbor neglects his front lawn, it is the equivalent of disregarding the unwritten social contract.” Just like the article states, in order to maintain these lawn we have to develop toxic insecticides and herbicides as well as exerted surprising pressure on our natural resources and affect human existence. So the question really is how important is up keeping our lawns in relation to human existence?

  20. Kelly Heal

    I think it is absolutely crazy to keep up a lawn; however, millions of Americans spend countless hours tending to their lawns each week. The one thing that a lawn provides is aesthetic beauty, however, a beautiful lawn should not come at such a high cost. For instance, lawns use an enormous amount of pesticides and herbicides to maintain their beauty. One of the down falls to this is that when it rains these pesticides and herbicides will run off into drainage systems and contaminate our water sources. Fresh water is extremely important in California and we must begin to think sustainably, and wasting water on lawns should stop completely. A new, sustainable mantra must be adapted, as climate is changing and our natural resources are depleting.

  21. Maegan

    It’s interesting to think about this dilemma especially during our current drought in California. No one ever thinks about the consequences of their actions until they start piling up one day. But what is the solution to this problem? Is there some kind of balance we can achieve to have landscape and yet not hurt the earth?

  22. Gustav Muehlenhaupt

    For the first time in my life I live in a house with a yard and a lawn that I am responsible for maintaining. Before living here I always dreamed of having one of those “perfect” lawns, just the right height, no weeds, that lush green color perfectly fencing the path to my house. This initial dedication was marred by the constant adds to conserve water use here in California. The stigma for a “perfect” lawn permeates our society, it is associated with wealth, stability, and hard work. I believe/hope we aren’t doomed and this trend will change as our water necessity grows. Now I’ve decided to avoid any harmful pesticides and limit watering, maybe ill invest in a rock garden.

  23. Jesus Campos

    As I grew up i noticed more and more how my father would spend hours working on keeping the
    lawn clean, cut, and green and I never understood until after I started working on the lawn.
    The perfect “american lawn” as stated by the article, is a flawless lawn that showed unity right up
    front. Once I began to take care more of the lawn I understood how satisfying it was to nurture
    a small piece of the world and watch it grow. Thanks to this “perfect american lawn” that we
    all want, every home depot is filled with more fertilizers than we even knew excited, i just
    hope one day americans will care this much about the environment as a whole as much as the
    little piece of land that they own.

  24. Leticia Padilla

    I agree with the author that front lawns play a crucial role in molding neighborhoods’ identities, however there needs to be a shift in how we envision a “perfect” lawn to be. Like the author mentioned our usage of pesticides and herbicides on our lawns leads to harmful runoff in our streams and rivers which hinder wildlife and degrades water quality. The amount of water used to maintain our lawns green is also inefficient and unsustainable, especially in light of California’s current drought. Non native, high water consuming plants (including turf grass) should be replaced with native, drought tolerant plants. I also like the notion of replacing the conventional notion of an American lawn, by growing food in a sustainable way so that everyone, despite their socioeconomic background, have access to healthy food like vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

  25. Jaspreet Bains

    The American lawn has become somewhat of a status symbol. The greener and more lush the lawn, the better it makes the homeowner look. If the lawn isn’t kept well, then it makes the owners look lazy. However, the amount of water, pesticides and effort that the lawn requires makes it a burden. More awareness is needed for exactly how much water a typical lawn needs, the amount of money that is spent up keeping the lawn and the damage the pesticides do to the environment. Once people are aware of this information then I think more and more people will turn to having an environmentally friendly lawn instead of the grass we are used to now.

  26. Carolyn

    The idea that a “crew-cut lawn” signifies living the American dream has become hard-wired over the past few decades. I had grown up with a father who would spend countless hours spraying, feeding, and tending his lawn in an effort to compete with other white-collar lawn-owners in our neighborhood. I can remember at neighborhood get togethers one of the most frequented conversations was the lawn: what fertilizer was used, what time of day you watered and for how long. To this day I can tell my father is disappointed in my husband and I for not being superb lawn care-takers, especially when he makes it a point to mention how lovely my sister and brother-in-law’s lawn looks in front of us… every time we’re at their house.

  27. Andre B

    After reading this thought evoking article, I feel as if I can relate to Shahla Farzan’s experience to a high degree. Growing up, my father would take me outside to our yard and essentially “showed me the ropes” when it came to maintaining and caring for the grass, the trees, the flowers, and the garden. There wasn’t one square foot of landscaping that hadn’t been manicured to the upmost extent. I learned valuable information, and obtained skills that I wouldn’t have in any other setting. I can’t help but wonder, however, the impact it was having in my community, and ultimately the environment. I say this because to some extent, I felt as if there was a bit of “artificialness” to maintaining that perfect yard. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is one way I reason to why people, including my father, find themselves slaving over a manmade piece of landscape, or possibly the way the author describes it as being a way to abide by the “unwritten social contract”. Either way, it definitely is an attribute that has been ingrained into the minds of many in todays day and age, and is having a pronounced effect on the environment in one way or another. Whether it be herbicides, insecticides , or something else, it is contributing to an ever-changing landscape. In addition, it can be seen that the amount of water being utilized to nurture these lawns and yards is great. Especially here in California, at this point in time, there is a dire need to reduce and cut water usage. I am hoping that sooner rather than later, people can come to realize that there shouldn’t be such a heavy emphasis on something so artificial, but rather find a balance between preserving the environment as well as their “lawn”.

  28. Nadia Elias

    Keeping up with our lawns does affect social and political aspects in our lives. I have never truly looked at the issue with keeping up with our lawns in that way, until I read this article. Although subconsciously, the whole social aspect of whether or not to up keep our lawn has been in the back of my mind. My mom’s front and back yard are not watered, and typically yellow during the dry season. Not because she is lazy. It is far from that. She can only do so much physically due to a back injury she had. Money being an issue has also caused her to not be able to hire someone to help maintain it. However, in CA with the current drought, this is actually a good thing now. Now that we are faced with the severe lack of water here in CA, I think that having a beautiful lawn should be bottom on the list of our concerns. I hope that we can also overcome using harmful pesticides around the globe, so that we can keep our home, our Earth, for our generations to come.

  29. Sydney Hagen

    I admit, when I picture a yard I see a lawn full of green lush grass. However, it blows me away to think of how little, absolutely nothing, a lawn of grass provides us compared to alternative landscaping choices. Alternatives, such as those in the video link below, can save water and other resources, decrease use of toxic herbicides, etc., benefiting the health and resources available for our neighborhoods, communities, towns, regions, and so on. And, come on let’s face it, how much more exciting, beautiful, and colorful would it be to have a yard landscaped with biodiversity rather than just one boring monoculture?!

  30. Manjot Lada

    I never really put much thought into lawns. But after reading this article I can see how others may think the revolution of lawn use has changed in the past years and needs some attention. This post explains both sides of the argument and I actually do agree with both. The modification of lawns with the use of insecticides and fertilizers help a neighborhood look civil and clean. It also helps protect human society by keeping away critters that can carry potential health hazards. However, these modifications also put the ecology at risk by using our clean water supply and causing toxins to leak into nature. I don’t think there’s a simple solution to this. But I do think the replacement of grass lawns with either rocks or cement can help the environment and keep the demand for water down. To add some greenery, pots of plants can be installed that wouldn’t require any type of insecticide or toxic chemicals because there would be no harm to its surroundings. It’s also possible to get rid of the toxic chemicals and replace it with something more organic, yet the problem with water demand would still be there. This would be a work in progress.

  31. Alexandria Rummerfield

    I find it really ridiculous that our conception of American perfection is a beautiful green lawn. I was not aware of the fact that the turf grass is not a native species. We spend so much water and time keeping this non-native species alive in our yards during the summer, that we are basically sending the state into a spiral of never ending drought. When water could be better spent elsewhere, we are wasting it on our lawns that just HAVE to be perfect.

  32. Alex Schaefer

    I thoroughly enjoyed the tone and nature of this article, as if it was backhanding American society as a whole for falling under the spell of “the lawn”. But it appears that many, especially us out in the dry western states, are seeing past what having a well maintained lawn traditionally stood for and represented, socially speaking. Currently, we are in one of the most severe drought periods on record, and replacing lawns with arid landscaping is now being subsidized by some western cities that aren’t even located in traditional desert climates. Not only for the sake of water preservation but also maintenance of water quality in our streams and rivers where pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers will no longer flow down the storm drain or into underground water tables. I am a complete advocate of drought tolerant/desert landscaping and will have it at my future residence for reasons of the sheer benefits it yields.

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