The Real Problem Behind Lawns

The Real Problem Behind Lawns

One nice thing about living in the mountains away from civilization is that it’s not necessary to grow and maintain a lawn. Trees, other native plants, and rocks suffice just fine. Natural landscape is always better than human engineered in my opinion. Lawns and flower beds look nice, but they are fake and just mean something native was destroyed in its place and in most areas resources outsourced from somewhere else just to keep them alive. My property even grows a variety of wildflowers that add a nice touch. There are also three kinds of edible berries, especially raspberries -the native landscape that keeps giving! So, when I see people living in such places growing a lawn, irrigating and mowing, I can’t help but think what the hell are you doing? To me it defeats the whole purpose of living in the mountains in the first place: to get away from civilization and the overly humanized aspects of it. Do these kinds of people look fondly at farm and ranch lands devoid of every bit of native life, replaced with one non-native crop or one species of livestock not indigenous to the continent? Most people don’t realize that to achieve that is a long process of sterilization and destruction. Imagine wiping out millions of acres of tall grass prairie, as biologically rich as the Serengeti, with 30 million bison, other ungulates, native predators and many other species dependent on that landscape and diversity and replacing them with European cattle and endless boring fields of the same non-native crop. People’s water-wasting and time killing lawns are just one symptom of the larger problem of our finite world having too much of our ever growing influence on it.

Even in the city lawns can be a strain on resources, especially in naturally arid or desert climates. I know many people love their lawns and are willing to spend excessive amounts of time and money making them look nice, but it’s a luxury that more and more is becoming irresponsible. Some areas of the country have plenty of moisture to justify them. In other areas lawns are just so unnatural and wasteful that it’s amazing they are even legal. How people can justify the contradiction of complaining about low water supplies and droughts while allowing people to have lawns just mystifies me. Don’t get me wrong- lawns certainly can make a property look nice, but for many it has just turned into an American tradition of overkill. As scientifically documented global warming keeps putting stress on the planet and our population keeps increasing we need to start living within our means. The only way to do that is to cater to your local climate conditions. Water prices should be reflected on that. If you want to waste water on cosmetic things like lawns there should be an excess amount of water to waste. Otherwise you should be charged a premium…or have your water supply limited. There should be strong financial incentives to xeriscape in such areas. Use only native plants that are acclimatized to the average precipitation and replace a lot of your water demanding landscape with rock and other materials that are virtually maintenance free. Hey, and if you don’t like it, move somewhere else that accommodates your excesses!

Yeah, I know. Some people love their personal manicured golf courses surrounding their houses. It’s nice to want things a certain way. But the world is changing and we are too slow to change with it. In some ways it no longer matters what you want. Our ever growing civilization on this finite planet is literally creating restrictions on what we would normally think of as freedoms. And it will only get worse without voluntary conscious management of the way we go about our daily lives.