Thursday 12 July 2012

Dirty Sod

In the last post, I wrote about my interest in landscaping.
It was fitting that I ended up taking some work doing just that.
Unfortunately, it was the kind of landscaping that we are trying to discourage.

For me, (especially after today) a lawn is a stand alone example
of wasteful civic development.
I might be more understanding if Badminton was a huge phenomenon in this country, because a lawn is good for little else.
There are lawns that get used for children to play on, and for picnics.
But the vast majority of lawns are intended to do nothing but look green and weed free.
Lawns occupy large tracts of cleared land, consume copious amounts of water,
and contribute directly to fertilizer contamination in the ground and in water systems.
Only recently have pesticides and herbicides been reduced by city by-law restrictions.
In addition, there is the effects of air and noise pollution from keeping the lawns mowed.
I won't even bring up the crazy obsessive compulsive behaviour that lawns encourage in otherwise mentally healthy men and women.

This lawn here doesn't even take time to grow and love.
No careful preparation. No excitement as the little plants
reach out and populate the surface.
This was a lawn made by laying sod.
I can't even imagine the amount of chemical used to produce
such a heinous abomination.
Rake and roll.
Instant lawn.

I realize that many of you out there have lawns that you cherish.
Perhaps it is fond memories of the children running through the sprinkler.
Maybe it was that great family reunion when uncle George got wasted and puked on the grass.
I only hope that the love of the lawn isn't simply for the great pride it bestows due to it's virtuous green hue, perfectly cropped blades, immaculate shape and form, and the fervent exclusion of weeds.
If you feel at all guilty,
it's time to replace the lawn with a garden


  1. My thoughts exactly, Andrew. I live in an urban space at present and the thing I resent most is that I am expected (both socially and I think probably legally as well) to maintain my non-garden property space as per social lawn-standards. For us, this means regularly borrowing a gas-powered lawn mower to keep it the same length as the Joneses because Heavens forbid anybody's eyes be offended by the sight of free-growing grass and flowers, or that a "weed" seed should blow across to a neighbour's yard. Such a waste of time and resources. Sheesh!

    1. Yes
      Doesn't it seem to be the popular trend for many to move away from "the lawn" these days. Yes there is no arguing that herbicides can be bad if used irresponsibly and that we do have limited resources on the planet but is this really why the "anti lawn" movement is on the warpath or is it tied to a fear of becoming our parents? LOL

      So why do people desire to have a lawn anyhow?

      Here is an interesting counterpoint to your argument that I became aware of some years ago based on the work of noted ecologist Dr. John Falk of the Smithsonian Institute....

      "Dr. John Falk, who works for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has conducted studies to prove his own interesting theory about why people like lawns. He thinks that because most of our history as humans was spent on the grassy savannas (large grassy areas with few trees) of East Africa, our desire to live around lawns is biological, or passed on through our genes from our prehistoric beginnings. Falk thinks that people naturally prefer the familiarity and safety (because the approach of predators can be seen) of flat, grassy land over any other kind of environment. And his experiments seem to prove the theory true: Falk showed people from all over the world pictures of different terrains-desert, rain forest, coniferous (evergreen) forest, deciduous (leaf-shedding) forest, and savanna-and most chose the grassland as the place where they would like to live."

      Read more:

      So what if lawns are a truly tied to our genetics and biology?
      An interesting conundrum to be sure.

  2. Here are a couple of notable links about this:

    The incredible amount of pesticide use for lawns when I was working in landscaping back in the 90s was always something that quite distressed me. It's good to see that some places are addressing this now, at least to some degree.