How Big Is Your Lawn?

Bicycling in Maryland is an eye opener. It’s not the traffic, narrow roads with no shoulders are the norm, or difficult drivers; they are not, being generally considerate. It is the acres of huge lawns surrounding every house from Mac-mansion to bungalow, and the unpleasant constant sound, and smell, of lawn mowing and trimming equipment. There is no country in the countryside in rural Maryland, just crop after crop of grass which, at 63 thousand square miles in the U.S., is three times the size of the next closest crop, corn.


There is no purpose in tracing the history of lawn popularity, we’ve blamed enough on the Brits already, but why do we persist in grossly expanding the lawn cult in America? Why do we yearly spend 28 billion dollars, 70 precious hours of our time and nine billion gallons of water a day on something so harmful to the environment, our own finances and health? “We’ve always had a big lawn.” That is not a very cogent answer.

My father’s greatest joy in his retirement was to expand our normal 1/8 acre lawn during his working/farming years, to nearly ten acres. He took Sunday off. Thankfully the gene didn’t get passed on to me. Years after his passing, I am still perplexed at his choice of pastime in his final years. Burning fossil fuels did seem to bring him an inordinate amount of pleasure, one I will never fathom.

The problem, as I see it, with love-of-lawn is that it damages the environment and wastes resources, including the mower’s precious life. How about spending that 70 hours with your children, your spouse, volunteerism, gardening for food, cooking for health, fishing, golf, or aerobic exercise (mowing is not)?

Yes, anyone can do whatever they want with their money, time and health. This is America after-all, but “We’ve always had a big lawn,” isn’t a very good justification for an essentially frivolous pursuit.

Just one opinion of a lawn hater.


How Big Is Your Lawn? — 7 Comments

  1. You go Bob!!! Full support from the Howes in New Zealand. Haven’t mowed a lawn in years, says Rick. Terrible waste of water, if nothing else.

  2. Bob,

    Our grass covers maybe 2000 square feet. We never water. We never watered the grass at our previous home. I don’t believe in watering grass. It’s expensive and wasteful. I won’t water. Our new neighbor across the street waters infrequently. Fortunately we’ve had a goodly amount of rain this spring, so the grass is green and needs weekly mowing. Fine. Until hot weather kicks in.

    Meanwhile Cheryl is adding to our garden space, thus reducing the amount of grass. She uses plenty of mulch, so there is little need to water.

    I’m reminded of a little story: An American tourist visiting one of Britain’s stately mansions asked the tour guide, “How do you people grow such beautiful lawns?” To which the guide replied, “It’s a simple matter of seeding, feeding, weeding, watering, cutting, and raking every day–for five hundred years.”


  3. At first I thought you were kidding. My first thought was wow how beautiful. But you are so right on all accounts. Not to mention the chemicals put on it to make it green and lush. These people should be paying an extra water tax for all that waste. Back in the day it was more or less to keep up with the Jones. I think everyone by now knows better. We need to conserve not only our natural resources but the lack of family values shines big in this one.

  4. I’m with you, Bob. For most of my life I have avoided the need to own a mower, using tan bark or the services of a redundee to save me from it.

  5. No flames from me! I agree that mowing and raising a lawn is a waste of time and resources.

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