Lawns and Hay Fields

If the photo on the left troubles you and the one on the right makes you happy, you are like me. I find large expanses of lawn depressing. What a waste, I think. All those hours of mowing, and for what? Hay fields, on the other hand are full of pastoral promise. They evoke images of thriving farms and happy horses. Unfortunately, there are four times more lawns than hay fields in the my country. 40.5 million acres of lawn compared to 9.4 million in hay to be exact.

You may be thinking, “Oh Camille, here you go again. What could possibly be wrong with a lawn?” Well, for starters, it’s a waste of fuel. Add high-particulate air pollution, unnecessary water consumption and toxic lawn chemicals, and the lawn begins looking like a bad idea. Especially when you weigh the alternatives: farms, gardens, orchards, pastures, hay fields and wood lots.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Homeowners spend billions of dollars and typically use 10 times the amount of pesticide and fertilizers per acre on their lawns as farmers do on crops.”

“According to IBIS World’s Landscaping Services market research report, the US lawn care market in 2014 generated revenue of $75 billion. The country with the next largest lawn care industry is Australia (with a) Garden industry worth $3 billion.”

“Spending an hour behind a roaring lawn mower can spew nearly the same amount of oily pollution into the air as a 100-mile car trip, according to a Swedish study.”

“Lawns with high maintenance (mowing, irrigation, and leaf blowing) and high fertilization rates have a net emission of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide that have large global warming potential.”

“More troubling still, the American perfect-turf ideal has been exported across the globe to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and even Asia, where it is transforming parts of the countryside into replicas of the Augusta National golf course in Georgia.”

A large lawn is not just a field of grass, it’s the worst kind of mono-cropping. High maintenance, non-productive bling. Super-sized lawns represent conspicuous consumption in a country infamous for showing off its assets. No wonder they make my stomach churn.

Science Line – Lawns vs Crops in the Continental U S

ABC News – Study: Lawn Mowing Equals Car Trip

Wikipedia – Lawn

Columbia University – The Problem of Lawns

Lawn Starter – Lawn Care Around The World

AP Central – Lawn and Landscape in World Context, 1945-2000

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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