I think one of the biggest overall themes we picked up in the book was how most of this need or want to have the “perfect” lawn is factored in to the idea of public image. Perhaps more so as Americans we tie in this idea of having a yard as part of our cultural image. How many of us have always heard part of the American dream in having a house, a dog, and a yard with a white picket fence? Can we say this image has really changed today? Well that’s what Lawn People helps to elaborate on.
The dream home?
In Chapter 2 we see how the lawn has evolved. Its roots in England with the wealthier members of society with wider tracks of land simply dedicated to open spaces of grass. For the times it was a symbol of prestige and a more successful life in being able to afford the property and being able to maintain it’s look. In America perhaps that image has been taken for granted as we now include lawns as part of the property in many of our suburbs. Lawns became part of the symbol of home ownership in the growing suburbs and gated communities in America. Of course you have to be sure to keep it maintained and keep attentive to it or else face the scrutiny of the community and it’s value at large.
With cities being built in larger size and increased capacity the space for lawns were just about non-existent. Planners built in parks to add in a natural and more lush contrast to the rising skylines and industrial make ups of the urban colossi. In a way these parks became the lawns for the masses, a place where you could escape the grey tones or the urban setting and walk about in a resemblance a more natural setting. Best part for them is that you don’t even have to maintain it. A giant yard and lawn free of charge. However while the masses don’t take any over significant part in it’s maintenance, it still must be maintained by somebody and somehow in a manner like those in the suburbs.
What we found out overall is that while the lawn offers a nice look to the home and to the neighborhood at large, it is in fact quite a tedious hassle. You spend days and days mowing, seeding, and for some protecting the quality of the grass. The lawn here changes from just a symbol, an image, to a yearly phase of outdoor maintenance, which can, and in some cases will, cost you time, sweat, and a little green out of your wallet. But to do this you may have to take a few risks, so you’ll need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”
Our society has built an entire industry, in some cases worth up to $2 billion (yes, billion with a B), to help you, the lawn owner, keep that yard green and perfect. Of course it means you will have to dabble with chemicals, exposure to products, and perhaps even the risk that it will all fail and cause you nothing but trouble. The sane industry will also tell you that the natural growing grass and plants, many of them that society now affectionately calls weeds, is wrong, and that they can help you every step of the way to make sure you get that ideal image of a lawn. It works hard to convince you that the natural growth of grass and what comes with it is not the best kind of lawn to have.
To some this is the lawn enemy.
But does that go against the growth of natural beauty?
So here are the questions that the book and us are left with to try and discuss and decide upon:
Turf grass vs. Natural grass? Which is more useful or necessary?
Is the lawn really a symbol of our culture or something that is over-hyped or overrated? Has it been upgraded or downgraded since its earlier mentions in England?
Do people or communities work to hard to make sure that the lawn (not just theirs but yours too) is perfect in maintaining a particular image?
Does the lawn care industry work to make you want to keep your lawn as pristine as humanly possible?
Can you have the perfect lawn without having to use chemicals or products?
Is the natural look of grasses really as bad as it’s made out to be? Are weeds really that big of an issue?