Lush, green and freshly mowed, well-maintained lawns may be as American as democracy itself. Many homeowners view managing pristine yards as a way to respect their property and neighbors. However, due to droughts in recent years plus a growing interest in sustainable living, more people are looking to “unlawn” America. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Lawns use large amounts of resources and chemicals. There are 40 million acres of manicured turf in the U.S. (more than any irrigated farm crop), and upkeep requires massive amounts of water, fertilizers, pesticides, and gasoline.
2. Lawns alter natural landscapes and ecosystems. Most lawn grasses aren’t native to American soil, and yard maintenance requires killing off existing plants and limiting habitats for wildlife.
3. Lawns can represent a decades-old tradition. According to BusinessInsider.com, Americans spend about $30 billion on lawn care each year. TheAtlantic.com puts it this way, “We spend our money and our resources and our time cultivating our carpets of green not just because we want to, but because we are expected to.”
Unlawning advocates promote non-traditional yards that are as attractive as they are eco-friendly. Some commercial and residential landscaping now features native plants, cultivated gardens or mowed paths through wild grasses, hoping to maintain properties that respect both nature and the neighbors.