STAWAR COLUMN: Lawn care better left to the pros | Notice


In a Scientific American article titled “The American Obsession with Lawns,” Krystal D’Costa says, “This is the time of year when the buzz of landscaping equipment starts to take over the air, and people. begin to scrutinize their appeal. ” Since moving back from the countryside to a suburban neighborhood about three years ago, my wife Diane and I have become increasingly concerned about our lawn. I’m starting to stay awake at night worrying about those bare spots along the hill in the back yard and I’m only a step or two away from transforming into Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, screaming, “Hey. , punks, get off my lawn. “

We didn’t think much of the lawn when we lived outside of town. The last time we lived in a housing estate, we still had boys at home to make us mow the lawns. Things are different now and we are trying to keep the yard from becoming an embarrassment and making us the outcast of the neighborhood, but it’s a constant struggle.

When I was in college, I remember reading the story of American sociologist Thorstein Veblen, who wrote a classic 1899 treatise, “The Theory of the Leisure Class”. The central notion of this work is that the truly wealthy (the leisure class) feel compelled to display their wealth while squandering it, preferably in public view. Veblen called this phenomenon “conspicuous consumption”. The TV Tropes website says, “Common variations on this theme involve using a hundred dollar bill to light a cigar or a cigarette, or throwing entire stacks of bills into a roaring fireplace to keep the fire going.” The character of Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons TV series says, “Ahh, there is nothing better than a cigarette … unless it’s a lit cigarette with a $ 100 bill!”

The modern lawn is a recent cultural phenomenon. This is, however, another example of conspicuous consumption. It evolved from the park areas surrounding the great European mansions and estates. These areas meant that the landowners were wealthy enough to dedicate land exclusively for decorative purposes, rather than agriculture. At the time, it was an extremely expensive act, comparable to burning money. Maintaining a beautiful lawn can also symbolize dominance over nature and create an illusion of order and stability.

Although the middle class has now embraced lawns as a status symbol, they remain an expensive proposition. Americans spend well over $ 60 billion a year just to maintain their lawns, not to mention all the work and effort.

Climate Conscious writer Jackie Badilla says: “Lawns today are a source of socio-economic status, unity, civilization, pride, success, order, security, civic responsibility , an ideal aesthetic and a barometer of the value of the neighbor.

Lawns are hard not to pass judgment on as you walk through most subdivisions. Lawns covered in dandelions, having sparse or overgrown areas really stand out. Our neighborhood seems to have a great diversity ranging from finely manicured lawns to quite frightening landscapes. Lawns can bring neighborhoods together or cause them to explode.

After a disastrous first year, when I tried to cut our lawn myself with a riding mower, we hired a lawn service. As I mentioned before our back yard has a very steep section and I actually fell off the riding mower – twice. Last year our lawn ended up having a number of bare areas. In the fall and earlier this spring, we purchased and applied Turf Builder which is supposed to thicken your lawn. I think our neighbors were delighted to see us working there. Although expensive, the Turf Builder seems to work, but it takes a lot of effort to spread the grass seed and keep it watered. Diane thinks we should get the prize for the most improved lawn, if there was such a prize.

I’ve never had a good lawn care model. My father never took lawns very seriously. When my mother complained about the need to cut the lawn, he would wait until Sunday morning. Then he would turn on our gas mower, much to the dismay of the Presbyterian congregation trying to organize services across the street. I suspect it was more than a little passive-aggressive.

Psychology Today blogger Dr Austin Perlmutter says: “… a well-groomed lawn is linked to ideas like success and stability. The relative health and attractiveness of the grass in our backyard becomes a barometer for our life as a whole. In this way, cultivating a healthy, well-mowed lawn helps us convince others that we are doing well. In a survey, people said they believe having an attractive lawn has a positive effect on them and their families. You may have noticed that Dr Perlmutter used the metaphor ‘barometer’ when referring to lawns, I think that’s because of the constant pressure they create. With the exception of the reprieve of the winter months, they pose a permanent threat to your status.

Lawns also have an expensive ecological cost. Most well-maintained lawns require more water than rain can provide. About a third of the residential water supply ends up being used for lawns. In addition, every year, lawn mowers and other machinery emit millions of tonnes of air pollutants. This does not include the even greater amount of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that cover the soil and seep into the water supply.

In response, there is a small anti-lawn movement, but militant. The American Society of Landscape Architects has suggested that homeowners replace their beloved grass with a drought-resistant groundcover that doesn’t require mowing. This is called “sustainable landscaping”. In the long run, it may be cheaper, easier to manage, and more environmentally friendly than our current lawn.

My father once bought a used concrete mixer, which quickly became his precious possession. I’m sure he wasn’t kidding, and maybe he was ahead of his time, when he suggested covering our yard with concrete and painting it green.

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