Monday, May 11, 2009

In Defense of the Suburban Yard

A commenter on a recent post took issue with the concept of a nice yard and landscaping.

“Y'all with nothing but green grass are artificial-looking, and worse, destroying our environment with toxic chemicals.”

I’ve heard this type of blather before from self proclaimed “friends of the earth.” I really have no problem with people that want to live in a more, let’s just say natural state. I feel the same way about women who don’t shave their armpits, to each his (or her) own. It comes down to a matter of personal choice.

I do have a problem with the notion that my lawn and landscaping are somehow bad for the environment. When we moved into our new home we got a lot that was scraped of topsoil, a few small bushes, a Bradford pear tree and a red maple tree all on less than a quarter acre of land. In three years since we moved in, Mama Wordbones and I have planted twelve Leland Cypress trees, a Kwanzan Cherry tree, and a wide variety of shrubs and bushes. Birds have now taken up residence in our trees and rabbits have found homes in our bushes. Our green yard has replenished the soil to the point where we can now grow vegetables.

When a person chooses to move into a neighborhood with green lawns, it is reasonable to expect that person to provide at least a minimal level of care to their yard. You don’t need to hire a lawn service to do this. You simply need to cut your grass on a regular basis. When this repeatedly fails to happen, it affects the home values in the entire community.

Of course there are other alternatives for the lawn care deficient. They could always take this approach and simply paint the lawn green.


Alan said...

There are plenty of environmentally friendly ways of treating a yard. Angie's List just did a piece on this.

Anonymous said...

Pride in your lawn is a relic of the past when we were ignorant regarding the ways of nature. Or maybe we just professed ignorance so we could keep something we liked – artificially created green lawns. And you know what they say about pride: Cometh before the fall.

Might as well put down astro-turf, guys. Looks strangely green and thick just-so.

Transparent attempts to associate the justifiably outdated status of the ‘perfect lawn’ with negative connotations is amusing, but not particularly effective for readers who are awake on a daily basis, not comatose for the past 5 years or so.

And there is the fear tactic yet again, “Have green lawns, or housing values in the toilet!!”. Oh my.

Conglomerating businesses up and down the food chain while combining retail banking with investment banking while mandating everyone get a mortgage while extending credit out 40, 50 years had **nothing** to do with our current housing value situation.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:12,

Although the lawn doesn’t need to be weed free, it does need to maintained. As much as you don’t like it, a maintained lawn is a requirement in today’s neighborhoods. A lawn that is uncut and overgrown, will detract from the house value (and the neighbors).

So, if I follow your logic, the lawn at your house has been completely left to nature?? Do you have any pictures to post?

One of the main reasons I take care of my lawn as it gives a place for my kids to run and play. It’s hard to kick a soccer ball around when you are dodging poison ivy and briar bushes. I do understand your reasoning though… the more natural we can be the better, though, we need to find a middle ground as we still need to live there also.


Anonymous said...


I'm stricken by your sincere yet matter-of-fact tone. Usually when people are pro-chem they are arrogant and belligerent beyond belief. Not so with your sensible reply.

Yes, kids and dogs need short grass, though I wish we all liked longer grass I do cut mine to keep the snakes away in any case. (eee!) I don’t put chemicals down and then send kids and dogs to play/touch/eat the grass as little ones are wont to do. When neighbors treat I can smell it in the air, like I just walked into the chem aisle of a hardware store. I know a guy who had such a disregard for the ‘hype’ over chemicals that he would just reach in the bag and broadcast by hand. Sadly for his family he died of lou gehrig’s following a tragic period of disintegration. Young guy, under than 40 years old.

The chemicals used to kill weeds are carcinogenic to organic growing things in some dose – everyone agrees on that. Over time, dosages build up and cause problems in humans as we are organic – not everyone agrees on that.

Thanks for the reply.

poroshosk said...

If you are having drainage problems, it may be from high clay content in your soil and/or a grading problem or something else entirely.
I suggest contacting some local contractors for their take on the cause and possible remedies of your puddles.
Many contractors will give you a free courtesy evaluation. The method I discuss above might not work to prevent your puddles if you have very high clay soil that is near the surface and goes deep into your soil.
Also, if your landscaping is poorly graded, then regrading it may be your best option.

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