Your Lawn - Make it a Beacon of Light in Your Hood

Submitted by Charles Frost on Thu, 05/31/2007 - 09:33.

May 28, 2007 · Filed under Environment & Wildlife by Craig Mackintosh
I really shouldn’t be telling you this, as, in a way, it’s giving away the state secrets of many poorer nations. In fact, I risk sharing one of the few economic advantages some countries have over western countries. But, the following information has such a potential to improve lives and the well-being of the environment, that it would be morally wrong for me to keep quiet.
In the west, most Saturday mornings, you’ll find people everywhere outside with their lawn mowers in the early morning light (while some of us are trying to sleep). The grass, of course, has to be cut, and it has to be cut short. It is totally imperative that this is done, obviously, because if allowed to grow without restraint your lawn will eventually grow so high as to completely cover your house and possessions. For as long as modern man can remember, he has had to live with this very real fear of being overcome by his lawn.
Being from the west myself, the need to keep ones lawn under control is just as much a part of my make-up as any. But, to my amazement, the people in some of the countries in which I’ve travelled and lived have made a significant discovery. It’s simply this – the grass stops growing!!
It’s really true; a lawn will reach a certain point, then stop right there. You heard it here first – I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Eastern Bloc Yard

This makes me wonder when our lawn paranoia and misconceptions began. As far as I can make out it was sometime around when lawn mowers began to be mass-produced. For thousands of years people knew they had nothing to fear from their lawn, but then clever executives at Masport and Husqvarna (in collusion with the Joneses I believe), somehow subtly disseminated the thought that we must wage war on our lawns at all costs.

Dandylions are flowers too!!!

 Talking about costs brings me back to the economic advantage I mentioned above, that many nations have over western economies. While we’re consuming time, fuel and energy on our erroneous obsession – people in other parts of the world are accomplishing other tasks. When we awake with a cold sweat early Saturday morning – after nightmares of Mother Nature swallowing our house and garage whole – they are taking much needed rest, allowing them to work more efficiently through the week.
Lawns and verges offer vital accommodation to beneficial insects and organisms – giving the balance and bio-diversity that ensures home grown carrots and cabbages are not overrun with aphids and caterpillars. One of our most commented posts - Colony Collapse Disorder: A Moment for Reflection - attempts to show the significance and importance of increasing a healthy diversity if we want to survive ourselves. Bees and other pollinators are disappearing at an alarming rate - and this event is directly impacting on our ability to feed ourselves.
Our lawn fetish is out of hand. To keep our lawns green we use incredible quantities of finite fossil-fuel based chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and make large subtractions from our increasingly precious water supplies. And for what - to maintain a futile authoritarian mindset over a natural world that refuses to be controlled?
I think this lawn issue is incredibly significant. If a critical mass is reached on this one problem alone, it will translate to a paradigm shift in the understanding of nature by the most nature-detached society that has ever existed. The ranks of lawn-owners include people from all walks of life - corporate executives, bankers, accountants, factory workers and suchlike. People that may never find their way to this or other environmental sites may find inspiration in your lawn instead. In this sense, urban eco-warriors can convert their lawns into a living testimony of the dramatic social changes that must take place in the coming months and years.
Sooner or later (preferably sooner) people will be raising eyebrows at the guy wielding the spray-wand and pushing the motor-mower - not the guy who’s contributing to the health of the environment with his rich bio-diverse yard.

The following videos demonstrate the work of a few urban eco-evangelists - people who are putting their lawns to use in many ways. Not only are their yards enriching bio-diversity, but they are causing neighbours to consider the sustainability of their lives, and local councils the appropriateness of their by-laws.

Imagine a world where Saturday mornings are peaceful once more. Imagine a world where beetles and hedgehogs can feel safe in their homes – a world where we can dispense with harmful pesticides – a world where the Joneses no longer control our lives. You can make it happen! Quit the spot-poisoning, and have your plastic spray-pack recycled! Monoculture agriculture is a failed experiment - let’s not persist with it in suburbia as well.


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