Your lawn is a work of art…it says a lot about you

Published 11:04 am Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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Spring kicks off the busy season for lawn care, with a laundry list of things you’ll be managing, along with mowing. Flower beds must be weeded and planted, bushes trimmed, mulch put down, etc. But, mowing once begun is a weekly job until autumn.
Being awash in a sea of grass can be a wonderful thing, especially when that grass is gloriously full and lush. But, good lawns don’t just get that way on their own, it takes effort and care to make the green grass grow.
Did you know that lawns are the most grown crop in the U.S. – and they’re not one that anyone can eat; their primary purpose is to make us look and feel good about ourselves.
Spring is that time of year when the buzz of lawnmowers fill the air, and people begin to scrutinize their curb appeal. There was a time when everyone mowed their lawn, but in this day and time, there are lawn services that do the job. The goal is to attain a patch of green grass of a singular type with no weeds that is attached to your home. It should be no more than an inch and a half tall, and neatly edged, with no dandelions, or other wild weeds. This means you must be willing to care for it. It must be watered, mowed, repaired and cultivated.
Lawns are a hallmark of homeownership. Lawns connect neighbors and neighborhoods. Lawns are a physical manifestation of the American dream of home ownership. Carefully manicured lawns signify that you care about belonging and want others to see that you are like them. A properly maintained lawn tells others you are a good neighbor.
Today, there is a significant industry that exists around lawn care and management. From equipment to chemicals to seed, lawns require knowledge, time, and money. In the early days of the American colony, those with lawns were high-class people who could afford help in maintaining it, as very few lawn aids existed. For these reasons, lawns would not reach the middle class until well after the Civil War.
Until the mid-nineteenth century, most houses in America were built close to the street with a small closed garden in the back of the house. This design reflected the emphasis on privacy that had been handed down from European residential design – whereas lawns, as we know them, are connective and communal, gardens are private. The transition to this more public placement of lawns is tied to three major developments in the rise of the American suburbs: (1) the public park movement; (2) the coming of the automobile and the rise of long distance travel by train in the 1920s pressured homeowners to beautify the fronts of their homes for the sake of passersby; (3) Following WWII, the federal government financed low-cost mortgages, which propelled builders to create blue-collar tract housing. These establishments often featured lawns in an attempt to mimic upper middle class suburban development and attract residents. Soon, the front lawn became an exhibitive place.
Lawns continue to be markers of success. Many people do employ landscapers who provide weekly or monthly maintenance so that they do not need to invest their own time in the mundane tasks of cutting and bagging their grass, and edging their lawns. Sprinkler systems help keep the grass watered and there’s a bounty of chemicals to keep errant weeds at bay.
We are at a moment when the American Dream, inasmuch as it still exists, is changing. The idea of homeownership is untenable or undesirable for many. While green spaces are important, a large area of green grass seems to be a lower priority for many. With a growing movement that embraces a more natural lifestyle, there is a trend toward the return of naturalized lawns that welcome flowering weeds, and subsequently support a more diverse entomological ecosystem.
Old habits die hard, however. And it is hard to also abandon this idea of a front lawn, especially as it is so readily recognized as such. As of 2005, lawns covered an estimated 63,000 square miles of America. That’s about the size of Texas. It’s the most grown crop in the United States – and it’s not one that anyone can eat; its primary purpose is to make us look and feel good about ourselves.
So, if you mow lawns for a living, take pride in your work. Not everyone can make a lawn look good. It’s an important work.

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