By Grace Hamilton, Staff Writer
What’s my current political stance, you ask?
End lawnmower culture.
Those ugly lawns covered in plain grass with small patches of dirt growing sparse sets of manicured flowers, carefully picked and presented.
Large spaces that could be used for growing food, for sustaining natural flora and fauna, become status symbols and wastes of water and land.
“A status symbol?” You exclaim, incredulous. But it’s true. The tradition of keeping manicured lawns instead of actual gardens comes from wealthy European landowners. Keeping a lawn with grass cut short and perfectly required wealth to pay for servants to cut your lawn for you – without a lawnmower. Lawns were a show of wealth and status, even as the tradition moved to North America. But as industrialization spread across the country, so too did the art of keeping a grass lawn as lawnmowers became accessible and a much easier way to maintain one’s yard.
It was a bragging point – lots of land that you can afford to just make pretty. You don’t have to grow anything on it, you don’t need it for your animals to graze. You just have it because you can have it.
What a waste.
And they certainly don’t help with native biodiversity. Lawns are a monoculture that deprive pollinators, animals and plants of habitats.
Don’t even get me started on weeds. Nature tries to heal itself with a species that protects soil and improves it. Control and complete destruction are not the same thing. Actually, in urban areas, weeds are the most popular food source for pollinators, according to a study published by Cambridge University Press.
Destroying native biodiversity and wasting gallons of water on, essentially, little green sticks is ridiculous.
The study also suggests, “that urban areas have the potential to be important pollinator reservoirs, especially if both bloom and habitat heterogeneity are maintained and enhanced through sustainable urban planning.”
What’s important, and more beautiful, is gardens. Gardens with vegetables and herbs and the occasional weed. Or clover lawns, which adds nitrogen to soil and needs way less water. Habitat gardening – small trees, shrubs, some plants – gives space and sustenance to animals. Planting wildflowers will bring pollinators. Moss lawns are another alternative. It keeps soil moist and prevents its erosion, while even decreasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And moss will grow basically anywhere!
The point is that grass lawns are boring. Wow! Here’s a patch of grass! It’s so visually interesting and helpful to the environment and ecosystem!
Since when did wealthy European landowners (especially the French) decide for us that our own households would be marked and defined by useless swaths of grass? If I remember my history correctly, the wealthy French were beheaded for being so wealthy – and for being so snobbish about being wealthy.
I’m not arguing that we should go around beheading those with grass lawns who refuse to acknowledge the benefits of giving up that grass lawn.
I’m just saying we should consider it.
Not seriously, of course, but we should definitely shame them into changing their lawns into something useful, and to be frank, far more gorgeous and interesting! Show some personality! Grow your own food! Save the bees!
There are so many other options – we don’t have to resort to the tasteless legacies of the European elite and what they inspire. Vive la révolution contre le gazon!