Love it or Hate it: Lawns

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Love itThe thing I like most about lawns is their verdant lushness. Uncultivated grass is beautiful, of course; it grows long and messy, sways in the breeze and wildflowers sprout up haphazardly. But it’s not thick and full or comfortable to sit on. It’s patchy. If you want to spread out a blanket for a picnic or luxuriate on a towel in the sun, good luck doing that in a meadow. The grass will poke through the blanket and creatures living in the long strands will swarm up your legs.

I never had to mow grass growing up, which I’m sure makes me very lucky. Maybe it was more of a boy’s chore (none of my girlfriends ever had to, either) or perhaps it’s more of a generational thing. Everyone hired professional mowers in my suburb. It was a big job, especially if you had a front AND a backyard.

There’s no greater satisfaction than lording over a lawn at the front or back of your home. What’s better than stretching out like a queen on a lawn chair on your private property? You can even go topless. Kids can play games and roll around. And the greenery is further complemented by a few bright flower beds, an addition enjoyed by many lawn owners. Wildflowers are wonderfully unexpected and chaotically patterned, but there’s something comforting about neater flower arrangements. When you group flowers together in crowded bunches, the colors seem more vivid and the smells more delectable. And though it might be divisive, I think freshly-mowed grass smells delicious as well.

— Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Hate itIn the days of yore, lawns actually had a purpose: A kempt area of vegetation to act as a buffer between one’s home and the wilderness and its invasive insects, vermin and beasts. But that was before pesticides and herbicides and suburban subdivisions.

Today, lawns might make for a nice place for children to play or, depending on the size, shade of green and quality of lushness, are a great status tool to make neighbors and passers-by envious.

Mostly, lawns make less than zero sense. Not only do they use precious water resources that are far from abundant in places like, I don’t know, the entire West, they encourage us to dump chemicals on them, many which end up in places that are not your lawn, like the storm sewer (that is, if your sprinkler system doesn’t water the sidewalk more than it waters your grass). Because without added water and chemicals, the grasses we plant would not be as green and thick and lush as nature intended and would instantly burn and die.

And as a person who’s dragged mowers up and down lawns for the better part of 28 years, this Sisyphean grow-cut-grow-cut task of trimming the grass back every time it offers another 3 centimeters is possibly the most senseless-yet-culturally-mandated task I’ve ever been partied to.

For now I’m happy in my apartment complex where having to waste an hour every Saturday is a distant memory. And if I’m ever living in a home surrounded by vegetation, it better be a prairie.

— David Holub

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