Last week, someone came to the house selling their services in lawn care. This person started out by talking about how he had noticed all the different weeds we had in the lawn and how his company could help ensure a healthy lawn. They went so far as to note how they had already helped several of my neighbors. Looking over his shoulder, I noted to myself how green our yard is compared to the others around us, but held my tongue. After he wound down, I took his card and went back inside to collect my thoughts.
There is grass there of course. It’s dotted with dandelions, plantains, chickweed, violets and any other number of ‘weeds’. There’s even a spot where mock strawberries manage to grow. It’s been mowed recently enough not to have gone entirely wild, but is longer than the rest of those around us who keep their lawns trimmed almost to the dirt. Our lawn is terribly tended by the modern standard.
The modern standard is idiocy though. It bothers me how much people get caught up in the ‘perfect lawn’. I even once had an employer who admitted that he judged your character based on how you tended your front yard. He made promotion and retention decisions on employees based on a lawn! I was stunned and to this day marvel at that fact.
My Lawn History
Perhaps I should start with a little history. Very young, I became the person in my family tasked with mowing the lawn. This decision has never made sense to me, since I have an allergy to grass. It’s minor and just causes itching, but it still seemed odd to me that the one person in the family with an allergy is the one person who was doing this task.
Whatever the reason, I had to mow a reasonably large yard regularly. More often than not, I put it off as long as I could before finally breaking down and going at it for the few hours it would take to get done. Our lawn had beautiful violets among the diversity of life growing there. Again, it was one of the greenest in the neighborhood without feeding or watering. I had no love of my task and grew to truly hate lawns.
By my teens, I had sworn I would never bother with a lawn if I had the chance to own land and to develop my own build site (a long time goal of mine). I’d gotten it into my head that they were utterly useless. Give me a garden or a wooded path any day of the week. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I finally grew past this resentment of lawns.
When I finally let go of that little baggage, I realized lawns can have some value. Opens pace for children to play is no small thing. Space to host outdoor events or a place to just lay and watch the sky perhaps. There are many good reasons to have a lawn. The difference between my view of the lawn and that of others however remains vast.
Next Monday, I will continue to explore lawns. I intend to focus on the origin of our views on lawns and how they came to have such a hook on us. Why DO we need huge, well-trimmed lawns? I hope you’ll return next week to learn more.