Before I even began reading about lawns I thought back to our first class about wilderness and what that meant. How blind or deaf people might decipher where they are, etc. While we determined that wilderness is usually unkempt and the opposite of a lawn, only if there are laws do you have to keep your lawn maintained and looking nice. You could have 3 foot tall grass but as long as it was orderly, it would still be considered a lawn right? Well if you place that blind person in the middle of 3 foot tall grass would they assume they’re on a lawn or in the wilderness? I would think I’m in the wilderness, I think. But just something I thought of before turning to page one.
So in reading about lawns I’ve come to the conclusion that they are incredibly useless and have created an entire industry for nothing. This being that basically only the most affluent people can afford to have lawns and lawn space to begin with, makes it a reason for being useless and dumb. Yes people have been creating landscapes and picturesque gardens for hundreds of years now doesn’t make it right that they are still a symbol of social status and class. Only the wealthy could afford to hire manor hands to trim and cut the lawn and bushes in the 1700s and today to maintain a lawn you have to make enough money to buy all the appropriate items necessary. It just seems like a waste of time to have a lawn that doesn’t get used but only is there to look nice. Robbins quotes Denis Wood who asks a good question early on in the book, “who’s to say which species has domesticated which?” What an interesting thought. To think that maybe it wasn’t humans that has domesticated nature, but nature which has domesticated us. Would that mean that we’re just evolving with time and it doesn’t really matter if we try to save certain species and that they will die out eventually? Either way, it doesn’t help that if nature has domesticated us, we have created more of an issue by adding chemicals and pollutants to natural processes. This came with all the innovations of technology and our great ideas that we’ve had for so long. This was just something else I found to be somewhat interesting and struck me as unusual.
The other idea that stuck out to me was the whole idea that lawns are cultural and something done when influenced by other people. This is most definitely true because if you live in the middle of the suburbs and your lawn is the only with brown spots or unclean edge lines, what will the neighbors say!? There would probably be some type of Home Owners Association meeting about your lawn and then they’d have to come talk to you and tell you to fix it. It just simply is not allowed today. Now, don’t get me wrong, I too wish to move into the suburbs for a while when I raise my kids and do the whole suburban mom thing, but I refuse to pay attention to the lawn. Living in the city my whole life, I’ve never had to deal with more than a 15 by 15 section of grass and when I move to the suburbs I don’t plan on dealing with more than that. But all things aside, I believe that it is a part of the American culture to want to have a nice sized lawn to play with your kids and have pets run around outside. It came about in the 50s and 60s when everything else did post WW2. Combine this with the Green Revolution in the 70s and boom, there you have it, modern day obsessions with lawns.
Overall, I think this was a highly researched study on lawns, but for the life of me, I can’t ever imagine why one might want to know so much about lawns. But thanks Paul Robbins, you’ve cleared up everything I ever wanted to know about lawns and the people who associate themselves with them.