The Lunacy of the American Lawn

by Sarah Activism, Green LivingComments: 80
Perfection Can Be Ugly

I hate lawns.

No offense to any of you self described lawn freaks out there, but the fact is that the more perfect and unblemished a lawn is, the more I hate it.

Perhaps my extreme distaste for perfect lawns comes from my own Mother’s obsession with lawns while I was growing up.  Even today, she waters, sprays, weed eats, fertilizes and chemicalizes the living daylights out of her lawn season after season and then laments how my yard looks better than hers.

What do I do to achieve superior lawn status? Absolutely nothing.   Please don’t call it a lawn, though.  The word lawn to me means that you actually work on it and spray things on it.  I don’t work on mine at all; therefore, it is a yard.  It’s amazing how nice – not perfect – things can look when you leave nature alone and don’t disrupt the soil balance with chemicals.

Golf Courses Are Just Too Perfect

As much as I love to play golf (and I played a lot growing up – basically every day), I would never live on a golf course because I hate how perfect they look all the time.  I much prefer the links style courses of Australia and Europe where frequently nothing is sprayed and yet the grass is beautiful anyway with mottled patches of brown and various shades of green grass snaking up and down each fairway.   The “greens” may or may not be green .. but the grass is smooth and slick anyway providing a perfect putting surface just the same as the overchemicalized American versions.

I once was told that each golf course green in America requires about $10,000 in chemicals to maintain it each year. I have no idea if this is true or not, but even if it’s remotely close speaks volumes to the amount of poison that is dumped in our environment year after year simply to maintain small patches of green putting surface.


Avoiding a lawn was a primary reason my husband and I moved to a rural neighborhood.   The thought of having a Homeowner Association send me a nasty letter because I had a brown spot or two on my lawn made no sense to me and knowing myself well, I realized I would never be moved to comply with them.

Such a letter would mean that I would have to spray chemical fertilizers and pesticides on said brown spots which my children would track into the house.  Pesticides in a home take a verrry loooong time to break down.  Kind of like a house guest you can’t seem to get rid of.

Pesticides on my lawn would also mean hormone disrupting, cancer causing fumes mixing with the air we breathed inside.  Not to mention that pesticides have been linked with ADHD in children.  Though I didn’t know this at the time we bought our house, it seemed common sense to me to avoid them.  I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that chemicals and children shouldn’t mix.

Weeds Can Be Beautiful

I love the mixture of weeds and grass that makes up my front yard.  I even love the sandspurs. They have a place in my yard and my kids know to wear shoes in that area.   Big deal.  Do I try to get rid of them?  Not a chance.

My front yard is predominantly one type of grass and my back yard is another type. Yeah and they look very different. Do I feel compelled to make everything uniform?   Not in the slightest.   If it’s green and it grows, I’m good with it.

I have never put down any pesticides or chemicals of any kind on my yard in the almost 20 years we’ve lived here.   I love that my children can run barefoot on it and that when they were toddlers, they could eat the dirt, leaves and grass without danger (toddlers eat dirt for a reason, by the way.  It primes their immune system and leaves them healthier as adults).

Not only haven’t I ever sprayed my yard, I’ve never watered it either.  Why?  If there is no rain, a yard should die and turn brown. I consider this a welcome relief from mowing and other yard duties.  I hate thirsty lawns that suck up water by the hundreds of gallons.  It is such a waste to me and a clear testament to the unsustainable living mentality of Americans in general.

A green lawn during the dry season is weird.  It’s not only not natural, it’s downright distasteful.   My brown yard comes back beautiful and green when the rains return.  Do I need to “resod” or “reseed”?  Of course not.  Nature knows what to do.  It’s only chemicalized perfect lawns that have trouble during and after droughts.

I’m thinking about lawns right now because my Mom is preparing to completely resod her entire (and very large) yard at the moment.   The dirt had finally had enough abuse over the years and even the extreme treatments of lawn maintenance companies could not bring it back.

The soil was basically so dead nothing would grow in it anymore.

So, thousands of dollars are now required to completely resod the whole thing!

I am very happy to report that my Mom is open to using one of the new organic lawn services that have become more widespread in my community in recent years once her new lawn is laid.  You go Mom!

One step at a time, though.  Maybe someday I can convince her to turn off those sprinklers and love the weeds as much as the grass!


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