Bicycling in Maryland is an eye opener. It’s not the traffic, narrow roads with no shoulders are the norm, or difficult drivers; they are not, being generally considerate. It is the acres of huge lawns surrounding every house from Mac-mansion to bungalow, and the unpleasant constant sound, and smell, of lawn mowing and trimming equipment. There is no country in the countryside in rural Maryland, just crop after crop of grass which, at 63 thousand square miles in the U.S., is three times the size of the next closest crop, corn.
There is no purpose in tracing the history of lawn popularity, we’ve blamed enough on the Brits already, but why do we persist in grossly expanding the lawn cult in America? Why do we yearly spend 28 billion dollars, 70 precious hours of our time and nine billion gallons of water a day on something so harmful to the environment, our own finances and health? “We’ve always had a big lawn.” That is not a very cogent answer.
My father’s greatest joy in his retirement was to expand our normal 1/8 acre lawn during his working/farming years, to nearly ten acres. He took Sunday off. Thankfully the gene didn’t get passed on to me. Years after his passing, I am still perplexed at his choice of pastime in his final years. Burning fossil fuels did seem to bring him an inordinate amount of pleasure, one I will never fathom.
The problem, as I see it, with love-of-lawn is that it damages the environment and wastes resources, including the mower’s precious life. How about spending that 70 hours with your children, your spouse, volunteerism, gardening for food, cooking for health, fishing, golf, or aerobic exercise (mowing is not)?
Yes, anyone can do whatever they want with their money, time and health. This is America after-all, but “We’ve always had a big lawn,” isn’t a very good justification for an essentially frivolous pursuit.
Just one opinion of a lawn hater.
Claire Rogers writes on cross-cultural adventure drawn from her travels across the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, around Australia and of course, through Iceland–all by bike.
She’s currently traveling by tandem with her husband Bob, through southwest China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Check out NewBohemians.net for more information on their travels.