Opinion

Hodge: Fixation with the perfect lawn a puzzling notion

When in doubt listen to a professional.

If you’re a local-yokel, the name Don Burnett is practically legendary.

Burnett, a fellow Capital News columnist, comes from a long line of green thumbs and is known by many as the Garden Guru.

It stands to reason then, that three years ago I casually consulted with him regarding the logic of what to do with my ugly, dead, weed infested front lawn.

He concurred that digging it all up and replacing it with crush and raised garden beds was brilliant.

Tez and I wasted no time putting plan into action.

However, while doing so I continued to contemplate why North Americans even grow lawns?

What is North America’s fixation with growing lawns?

To me lawns are an illogical fixation that at the end of the day (or summer) costs us a bundle of money, time, water, energy and stress.

All of which would be fine if we actually used our lawns regularly. But we don’t.

For most us the only time we actually spend on our perfectly manicured lawns is when we cut or water it—or cut across the yard to the car.

For folks who truly utilize their lawns by playing on them or sun tanning, or constantly socializing on them—lawns serve a purpose.

However, few of us actually do that. And how much room does one need to suntan?

The most blatant stupidity behind lawns is their total waste of water.

Every year we are made more and more aware of the need to preserve water and not waste it. Yet we illogically continue to grow massive lawns despite the waste and the cost.

The absurd silly cycle of lawn care boggles me the most. We water it, and water it, and water it, watch it grow, then we cut it. And why do we immediately go right back to watering it again?

Well, because we just cut it, and now we want it to grow again. Is anyone following this bouncing ball?

We usually do nothing with the cut grass. We don’t eat the cut grass. We don’t smoke it, drink it, roll in it or even make sweaters out of it. A few gardening folks will compost it, but they are rare.

When we do absolutely nothing with the cut grass except leave it where it fell we give it an official sounding term—mulching.

Many Canadians have huge, perfectly green and weed-free lawns thanks to pesticides, herbicides, fungicides…discombobulating since we already have enough opportunity to bombard our bodies with cancers and other inflictions without exposing ourselves needlessly to such known toxins and poisons.

Pesticides are imperative, I suppose, if we are to keep up with the Jones’ and join the Dandelion Phobia.

We fail to acknowledge that in some parts of the world dandelions are grown as a crop. In Canada, the only good dandelion is a dead dandelion.

God forbid that a dandelion should appear on your lawn. (What is the gestation period of a dandelion. Surely it must be short enough to even make rabbits appear slow).

Short of absurdly dedicated manual labour, or a good dose of pesticides, the only way to rid yourself of dandelions is to move.

Of course, cutting the lawn is yet another mental marvel of our  machine-madness. Lawnmowers come in all shapes and sizes and like the quality and size of the dandelion-free lawn, are also part of the neighbourhood prestige.

Many homes now proudly display the latest flashy ‘ride-em’ lawnmowers.

All of which leads me to contemplate the infamous adage about the grass ‘always being greener on the other side of the fence.’ I have a few theories on why that often seems to be the case:

a) It’s a fact. The grass is greener on the other side of the fence because the neighbour works his/her butt off to get it that way

b) The doorknob drenches his yard in pesticides and/or fertilizers

c) The neighbour can afford to hire a lawn care company

d) The neighbour gets up in the middle of the night and spray paints his lawn

e) It’s a well manicured and disguised pot operation next door—not a lawn

f) It’s not greener, you are just having your senses affected by the neighbour’s use of pesticides or the aforementioned pot

g) The neighbour’s lawn is dead and brown— you’re just colour blind

h) Who cares?

Now, three years later after many hours of hard work and sweat ripping out the lawns and fulfilling our plan, I hate to admit that my lawn-free front yard has weeds popping up through the crush and dandelions growing in my raised garden beds.

So, when Tez and I ran into the Garden Guru the other day we mentioned our frustration.

Don just grinned and said, “Oh I solved that problem. We put in a synthetic lawn last year.”

I was speechless.

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