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Posts Tagged ‘4-letters’

The memory of that scene for me is like a frame of film forever frozen at that moment:  the red carpet, the green lawn, the white house, the leaden sky.  The new president and his first lady”  – Richard M. Nixon

Wikipedia defines a lawn as “an area of recreational or amenity land…that is maintained at a low, even height.”  Wikipedia goes on to describe the history, popularity, criticisms, maintenance, and various grasses for lawns and is well worth a read.  I am talking predominantly about turf grass lawns, not ‘alternative lawns’ of other plants and materials.  Lawn alternatives will be dealt with in a future post.

When asked about turf grass lawns, some clients feel that they should have one but cannot provide a particular reason.  “Because they’re nice” someone once said to me.  I don’t think that is reason enough if there’s no functional or aesthetic need for it.  If a lawn fills a particular emotional need or is meaningful in some way, that is a different story.  Unfortunately, the care required to keep them healthy makes turf grass lawns one of the least environmentally friendly growing things you can have.

Obviously, I have feelings about lawns; I’m generally not a fan.  Growing up, one of my chores was mowing – front and back, we had lawn to play on.  Ironically, I spent most of my outdoor play time in the sand box, stacking stuff up to make forts, and making up stories about things I found (read: not throwing a ball or running).  Our lawns weren’t really big enough for running and playing, anyway.

twin houses 1

Lawns are good for kids to play on, dogs to pee on, garden parties, and to give people something to do with their weekends.  Aesthetically, a turf grass lawn can be used as a visual contrast to other plantings.  A lawn can be a path or an area; it can reinforce a geometric design or be a place holder if you can’t decide what else to do.  As a designer, lawns do serve certain functions – I’m okay with that.  What I am not okay with is installing them for no particular reason, especially given the environmental and financial impacts.

I love this post on a NASA website which outlines research on the impact of lawns on the environment. We mow, fertilize, poison, water, and fuss over these flat green carpets as though all that stuff was fun or healthy.

Personally, if it was my garden, my money, my weekend time, my water and carbon footprint, I’d find something else to grow.

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