Modern American society needs to stop worshipping at the altars of St. Augustine and St. Bermuda.
I can’t think of anything else besides lawn grasses that we humans grow that requires as much labor, fertilizer, fuel, water and space, and yet produces nothing useful. We spend millions of dollars as a society to make sure we can get non-native grasses to grow rich and lush, and then millions of dollars more to cut it down and throw away the bits. And we do it why? Because everyone else does too.
This guy pretty much sums it up for me:
While it’s nice to be able to sprawl out in the grass with a picnic or nap under a shady tree, in reality when’s the last time any of us actually did that? Especially here in Texas, where the temperatures have soared over 100° more days than not, it’s been all but impossible to keep lawns green. Not that people don’t try… they soak their pathetic yards with precious fresh water (half of which runs into the street or onto the sidewalks) in a feeble attempt to coax a little life out of their turf.
Especially here, that’s just so wasteful, and it drives me crazy. So I’ve been anti-lawn for a long time, and as difficult as it can be to dig up turf and remove all the bits, it gives me enormous pleasure to rip out grass in favor of a garden or pond.
What drives me crazy is that so many homeowners’ associations and even local governments require homes to have a lawn. Be normal, they tell us… do everything you can to fit in, and don’t deviate from the twisted set of norms our American society has devised for our personal torture.
Think I’m exaggerating? Recently there was a battle in Oak Park, Michigan, where Julie Bass dared to think outside the box.
As she tells on her blog, Oak Park Hates Veggies, Julie’s city government decided to go after her for planting a vegetable garden instead of a lawn in her front yard.
we did some reading, did some thinking, and decided to use the space from the former front lawn and turn it into a beautiful garden. we had someone make us 5 pretty wood garden beds, and we planted some seeds. we have no gnomes (although i think they are cute), no overgrown wildflowers (nothing against flowers- just not our style), no man-eating plants (although some of our neighbors make me wish we did), and nothing in any way offensive- unless you count- drum roll, please- now astonished GASP… vegetable plants!
In return, the Oak Park code enforcement officer called her yard a “monstrosity” and threatened to take Julie to court if the garden was not removed.
Fortunately a nation of people spoke up in her defense, and after about a month and a half of threats, Oak Park relented.
Julie Bass and her family are role models – not just for standing up for their rights (which is admirable in itself!) – but for being willing to use their small patch of the planet to grow food, encourage biodiversity, and not waste precious natural resources for questionable aesthetics.
I wish more people were like them.
(and don’t get me started on golf courses… but that’s for another day.)