Why do we have lawns?  In much of the USA, it is expected that homes shall be landscaped with lawns in front and back.  The idea of lawns seems to come from royal estates in Europe that had the money and manpower and acreage to contain large expanses of manicured grass. It was a place to relax or sometimes march army squads for review and inspection or maybe it was a hunting green or play area.  Large lawn space also became popular as common grounds for other formal and informal gatherings; to have political discourse or hear music or enjoy picnics.  All great stuff where a soft ground is welcome.

But why does every home seem to require such?  Some people say they are easier to maintain and less expensive than other landscape choices.  Actually, lawns are not that care free.  Lawns are some of the thirstiest ground covers around, needing water several days a weeks during any dry times of the year since the grass is rather shallow rooted and usually not very drought tolerant.  And because it is a monoculture that is seldom native to where it is planted, it more easily gets disease and insect infestations.  This drives people to douse it with herbicides and pesticides all too often.  Those, in turn, have runoff which enters the water systems and creates havoc with native plants and animals while toxifying drinking water.  And no one should come in contact with these poisons for hours or days after application, especially kids and animals.  And as everyone who has a lawn knows, mowing is a never ending chore.

All this cost money and time as well as using precious resources; water and fuel.

Others may argue that the lawns are good for families - a place for the kids to play.  But how many people really have their kids out there these days?  I so seldom see anyone on a lawn other than when mowing and trimming and applying fertilizer or poisons.  Seems like people are more slaves to the lawn than anything.  And when people do want their kids playing, they are either in the backyard, indoors or at a public ground of some sort.

Now a lot of people may think, "so what?  I don't really have to water as the summer rains do that and the snow covers it all in the winter."  Well, for many areas, especially in the US southwest, we don't have those rains.  We need to get water from storage.  Water is already a precious commodity in these areas and to throw it on lawns just to then cut the growth off and basically stare at the monotonous green is just down right silly.

It seems like it is time to change our ideas of what makes a nice home landscape and create something that is both more beautiful and well as practical.  And if one chooses right sized native plants, there should be very little maintenance once the plants are established.  Certainly the water demand will be lowered and the lawn mower can be retired.

Think about it.

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Farm Kid
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