Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Field of Dreams: A Rant.

There is a yard on Highway 23 on the way to my parents’ place that always makes my skin crawl. Why? Because it is nearly three acres of JUST GRASS LAWN, clipped to within an inch of its life. There are no shrubs. There are no trees—not even a functional windbreak of pine trees lined up like soldiers on the property line. There are no flowers. There is no life. It is an ecological desert.

Sure, there IS a child’s play set behind the ranch house in the “normal” backyard area, which you need binoculars to see from the road. Can you imagine how BORED this kid must be when he ventures onto his giant lawn? Nothing to explore, no flowers to smell or bugs to examine or trees to climb or nesting robins to watch. Then again, his parents probably don’t let him outside much, unless he’s wearing a helmet, the strongest insect repellant allowed by law, and lotion with an SPF of 100.

I get so agitated driving past this yard that J nearly has to restrain me, lest I leap from the moving car, run to their house (which would exhaust me, because they have nearly a mile of lawn), and try to convince them to just let me BUY THEIR LAWN. Or, in my less generous moments, leap from the car to burn “Plant some trees, asshole!” into the grass.

So, Yardman…why the giant lawn? Here are some possible reasons:

1) You are ignorant about what an environmentally wasteful, uninspiring eyesore your lawn is.
2) You hate anything attractive.
3) You hate wildlife and/or are afraid of nature. Which should have been a consideration when you MOVED TO THE COUNTRY.
4) You enjoy giving up your weekends to mow your lawn on the TRACTOR. I have seen you on this tractor. You do not look cool. You don’t even look like you’re having fun.
5) You enjoy inhaling the exhaust from your yard tractor.
6) You love having an unfettered view of the highway, with inimpeded access to the smells and sounds of the highway. Great resale point, by the way.
7) You have no imagination and are generally dull human beings.

What would I do if I lived in this house? Glad you asked! I would:

1) Replace the lawn with a low-maintenance prairie to boost the native bee population, which would pollinate-
2) The garden of mixed veggies and fruits and herbs that I plant, which would supply my family and friends with enough produce to last an entire year.
3) Install bluebird houses. Or just leave the prairie be and give the Eastern Meadowlark somewhere to nest. With a population that’s dropped 72% in 40 years due to habitat loss, it could use the help.
4) Dig a pond. Or four.
5) Plant a few hundred trees and shrubs.
6) Divide the yard into eight garden rooms lined with perennial beds, wildflower and shrub borders, rose gardens, benches, water features, a fire pit, gazebos, arbors and obelisks, an outdoor dining room, and veggie gardens. Be featured in my favorite garden porn, Country Gardens magazine.
7) At the very least, put in some soccer goals…a golf course…a baseball or kickball or football field…ANYTHING BUT JUST EMPTY LAWN!!!!!

Sorry to end on a Debbie Downer note, but here’s the deal. Over the years I’ve become a major gardening nut (because, as I have explained earlier, I am an octogenarian trapped in the body of a Gen-Xer. Also, gardening is a little subversive, which I like.). Our city lot is a mere 60 x 62 feet, yet I have stuffed it with dozens of perennials and annuals, 5 kinds of fruiting shrubs planted for me or the birds, and even a veggie and herb garden. I also raise and release about three dozen monarch butterflies every summer (they are attracted to the teeny 3' x 3' plot of milkweed I maintain).

Perhaps I am simply jealous of this idiot’s yard, and the fun I could have with such a vast blank canvas. But ultimately? It boils down to this: roughly 50,000 people starve to death and an average of 90 species go extinct EVERY DAY. And you could certainly find a strong correlation between the two (lost biodiversity = bad news for bears, and people). Yet here in the U.S., we chemically saturate, water to the tune of 270 billion gallons each week, and mow an expanse of lawns that if combined, would be larger than the state of Pennsylvania.

All that wasted potential.

And that is why this guy’s lawn pisses me off.

(Don’t even get me started on the guy standing in the MIDDLE OF THE STREET last week, blasting a handful of grass clippings with his gas-powered leaf blower on a windy day.)


  1. pumpkin pie7:47 AM

    I know EXACTLY which lawn you are talking about, and funny...because it pisses me off to! We should meet there in the middle of the night and do some planting!!!

  2. Whenever I see lawns like that I think much the same thing. At least plant a tree. Just one. That's all I'm askin'

    Another pet peeve-- people in my subdivision who have riding lawn mowers for their less than 1/4 acre lawn. Because, OMG, if it should take you more than 10 minutes to mow your lawn. Or get any exercise.

  3. oh lord! that guy sounds awful.
    and i am so with you on the grass thing! when did that nonsense start? who decided we should be doing that? i really don't get it. i love your list and i would do the same thing. let wild prairie grass grow everywhere! esp along highways and such.

  4. Guerilla gardening! Sneak in; plant just along the edges at first. You might have to do it in the middle of the night, but wouldn't it be worth it?

  5. If that were my 'lawn', it would be dead, because our water restrictions are so tight this year. :( California sucks.

  6. debcleve1971@yahoo.com8:09 PM

    Hey, Jess,
    Thanks for visiting my blog. I try to write on it once a week, but it's a stretch--with so little time to write as it is...hey, way to tell Yardman off! I know the yard your talking about and yep, it is creepy. We've planted over 100 trees since we moved to our three little acres a few years ago and it's so nice to finally have somewhere for birds to land. And it has kept them from pooping on our house...a nice little plus. We need to do lunch this summer. Talk to you soon...

  7. It must be jealousy.....I have that. I had a wonderful yard on a 1/2 acre. Fruit trees, over 60 roses in my rose garden, veggie garden, flower beds, banks roses that poured over the fence. And then divorce, small townhouse, front and back patio/courtyard with minimal planting space, but have sardined in as many plants as I can, pots everywhere, love to garden.

    I, too, would see that and have this wonderful vision of what a magical place it could be.

    Maybe he has dreams of soccer fields?

  8. We are kindred spirits--I have very similar thoughts when I look at other people's yards. And I'm sure they have their own opinions about mine. Just this morning D & I were remarking on how the dandelion season has passed and our yard doesn't look half bad despite not spraying or anything--who'd have guessed? Not the Scotch folks!

  9. Leaf blower guy?

    First one to go when I take over this town and become despot. I was working in garden when I heard this obnoxious noise that wouldn't stop and wouldn't stop. I finally walked around my neighbors' garage and across the street to find this jerk blowing grass from the driveway onto the street.

    I asked if he would give it a rest. He told me he was almost done and I pointed out that he could easily sweep the grass clippings from the driveway to the street. (I think he had blown the grass OFF HIS LAWN, too. How dumb is that?) He got all nasty and said that he has to listen to dogs barking, which is not my fault because we have indoor cats.