Lawn Rangers

Lawn Rangers

A prominent Washington, DC activist recently wrote about intolerant environmental activists who want to share or even do away with suburban lawns. Certainly Enviros, like other single-issue activists, can certainly be tiresome. While NotionsCapital understands our DC neighbor’s point, his essay is . . . well, pretty tiresome. We may be banned from Montgomery and Fairfax Counties for saying this, but God did not plant grass on American front lawns, nor is front-lawn grass prescribed by any holy writ (real estate covenants don’t count).

Suburban lawns are probably pathetic attempts of a house-proud middle class to mimic the 18th-Century landscaping of British manor houses, and American lawns were allowed to go brown each summer until color TV brought emerald-green PGA golf courses into suburban homes on Sundays. Certainly sod — instant lawn — has been a fixture of suburban subdivisions, and private real estate covenants (the kind used to segregate neighborhoods) still specify grass lawns, species of grass that are not native to North America, and not suited to our soil or climate. 

Entire chemical, manufacturing, plumbing, seed- and sod-farming, and service industries depend upon the existence of America’s imported grass lawns. If you think this is insignificant, consider this: The USA has three times as many acres of lawns than irrigated corn. Lawns and golf courses constitute the largest irrigated “crop” in America, and cover nearly 50,000 square miles of the nation’s surface area.

Why does it take this vast infrastructure, energy cost, and billions of home-owner hours, to keep a wee patch of green before each Split-Level and Cape Cod? Because Nature abhors a grass lawn.

Our acquaintance Roger Welsch, now a gentleman tree farmer near the roaring metropolis of Dannebrog, Nebraska, once labored for his daily popcorn as a university professor, and dwelt in his state’s capital city, Lincoln. A devoted Nebraskan, Dr. Welsch eschewed imported vegetation and allowed the native flora to reclaim his lawn. The result: native grasses and plants, content with the water of the clouds, seasonal wildflowers, nutritious fresh salad greens, and frequent fines from the Weed Control Commission.

Dr. Welsch did what any loyal citizen would do: He ran for the office of Weed Control Commissioner on a “Pro-Weed” ticket, and won. Granted, this was in a college town in the middle of the last century, and some voters might have been, um, a little fuzzy on the “Pro-Weed” issue, but the election was still a triumph for Democracy, native American flora and, as we know realize, for the purity and abundance of Nebraska water resources.

Of course,  no matter the vegetation, trimming the yard is always a chore. With nutritious native plants, though, this can be delegated to the family pet:

Lawn Rangers
Nanny Goat, courtesy TAMU

Full disclosure: Mike Licht of NotionsCapital has not read the book displayed above and once received a pound of Nebraska popcorn, gratis, from Roger Welsch.

3 Responses to “Lawn Rangers”

  1. Weer'd Beard Says:

    I hate caring for my lawn. It gets watered the same time my truck gets washed (That being every time it rains) amazingly both look fairly good dispite my sloth.

    Still having a lawn beats having all my soil run down the city storm drain!

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Weer’d Beard:

    Good use of meteorological maintenance on your part. Does that mean your lawn goes a natural tan in August? That’s what got that poor lady in Utah busted.

    The issue isn’t Lawn vs. No Lawn, but whether to use native ground cover or non-native, high-maintenance grasses. Goats are optional.

  3. Weer'd Beard Says:

    “Does that mean your lawn goes a natural tan in August?” Dunno, I bought the place in February, give me a shout in august and I’ll do a Lawn-Cast on my Blog ; ]

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