The Death of the American Lawn

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Can you imagine your home without a lawn? Many town homes do not have them. More people are moving into condos that have little lawn space. However, there are predictions that our homes may no longer have lawns as well.

I am lying on the grass after the family picnic in our front yard. The children are running around, playing their games; my wife and I discuss the state of our trees. A pleasant evening spent on the lawn. I rise from my resting spot to look over the yards of other homes on the street. Remembering the lectures from the past weekend, I recall that two speakers predicted the death of the American lawn. One was encouraging the idea for a more sustainable landscape, while the other argued for the perpetuation of the lawn, since it is a truly American landscape.

    On the side against the lawn, we have the argument on how bad awns are for our environment and our own health. Lawns are not practical for water conservation. We place species of grass that do not suit our climate. We cut the grass to achieve a desired look that does not fit with the plant. We pour chemicals onto the lawns to rid them of weeds, and to make them greener, but these chemicals wash down into our water supply. Removing the lawn, planting native species, and avoiding fertilizers could save us money, while making our environment healthier for us. There are wonderful landscapes that do not rely on the lawn.
    Arguing for the lawn are those who cherish this uniquely American tradition. I never thought much about that fact. I recall landscapes on my travels, and I do realize that a lawn is not typical for homes around the world. At least large lawns like we have in front of many of our houses. The belief is that in fifty years the lawn will be gone. That may be an accurate statement, but I am not entirely sure that it is true. However, is it right to maintain a tradition just because it is a tradition? I do like the idea of ensuring that people know our traditions.
    I have slowly been removing sections of lawn from around my own home. Not all intentionally. On one side of my drive, I had a large stretch of lawn. I had problems here. I was not too happy with it. With trees from the neighbors blocking the sun the light from my vegetable garden, I decided that this space would be better as a garden bed. I am happy with the result. Grass was always spotty in the very front by the street, so I removed it. Blackberries, lilies, and liriope reign in this section. On the main front yard, I created garden beds along the edges, curving in and out and spiking into the main yard. This leaves a space in the middle for m lawn. In the lawn itself, I find mint and thyme growing within the grass. There is also dollar weed, which is a Chinese herb that helps with memory. I do not  have any desire of trying to have the perfect lawn with nothing but Saint Augustine grass in the field. As for fertilizers, I am only spreading compost over the lawn. Honestly, I feel that we tend to place too much fertilizer down. The reason we find these chemicals in our water supply is because they are not be taken up by the plants. The chemicals in compost release slowly, and a light sprinkling of compost will not wash away a great deal of chemicals.
    Maybe it is time for the American lawn to go. Yet my children do have fun playing on the lawn. I may want a slightly greater space for a garden be, but the lawn will be part of my landscape for some time to come.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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