Monday, June 4, 2007

I Fought the Lawn, and the Lawn Won

I despise lawns. They are flagrantly wasteful. Popularized in the 1700’s by French nobility, who converted productive agricultural land to grass to demonstrate they could afford to make waste while peasants starved, the primary role of the lawn is to show off that you can afford to waste land, labour and resources. Let’s see, we take a non-native plant, water it and fertilize it and pray that it grows to be thick and lush, only to have the burden of maintaining it increase as we are more successful at achieving this objective. Doesn’t make much sense to me, especially given that lawns aren’t exactly useful for anything. I've heard the argument that lawns are useful to lay down on and to play sports. I call bullshit. Who’s got time for that anyway?

North America now has more than 32 million acres of lawn under cultivation. That’s more land than any single crop, including wheat, corn, or tobacco. Americans spend $750 million a year on grass seed and more than $25 billion on lawn and garden care. Lawns in the United States consume around 270 billion gallons of water a week. Lawns use ten times as many chemicals per acre as industrial farmland. The pollution emitted from a power mower in one hour is equal to the amount from a car being driven 350 miles. In fact, lawns use more equipment, labor, fuel, and agricultural toxins than industrial farming, making lawns the largest agricultural sector in the United States. (Source: um, google?)

When Erik and I bought our house, we made a conscious decision not to get a gas mower (it helps me rationalize decisions such as flying to Palm Springs for a weekend to attend a music festival). We didn't even buy an electric mower. Instead, we bought a Brill Luxus 38, the best push mower on the market. This worked for a while, until I got some hobbies and didn't have time to shove the mower around the yard a couple times each week. Eventually, we stopped fertilizing the lawn. That reduced the mowing burden substantially. Then we stopped watering. Another step in the right direction (though dry thatch is not particularly easy to mow with a push mower).

A couple of summers ago, I made the decision that I would systematically purge myself of my burdensome lawn. I have removed a few small patches of lawn and replaced them with low maintenance native plants and made a vegetable garden (not exactly low maintenance, but at least I get something out of it). I have had some grand plans for further expulsion of my green enemy, but alas, finding the time and energy to make it happen has been a challenge. Erik’s dad helped the situation by giving us a huge head start on yardwork this year, but we needed something more. So, we caved in and bought an electric mower.
It runs quietly. I don’t have to put my body weight into forcing it along my dry grass. I don’t have to go over every square inch more than once. It’s so luxurious. I declare a cease fire – my lawn is safe from my shovel for the rest of 2007 (though, I still have no plans to fertilize or water my lawn).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the fans of the 2006 World Cup of Soccer would disagree. (26.3 billion viewers in 214 different countries and territories) Without a grass pitch there is no soccer.

Sorry Tori:
Grass 26.3 billion – Tori 1

June 5, 2007 at 5:47:00 PM MDT  
Blogger tori said...

Where are these magic people from? Is World Cup Soccer really popular with the Martians?

June 6, 2007 at 10:53:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Sarah Marchildon said...

Yay! Great post. I hate lawns too. Thought I was the only one...

June 9, 2007 at 6:46:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erik's dad sure sounds like a swell guy! (Smart, too)

June 18, 2007 at 7:02:00 AM MDT  

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