The lawn behind the white picket fence
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

February 9, 2014

Do you ever think about those green, nicely cut lawns, sprayed with round-up or some other herbicide to keep those little dandelions and daffodils out? From curb to front door, around most of suburbia North America and elsewhere, this has stood as the symbol of personal wealth and or the accomplishment of man over nature. Often when we see a green, well-kept lawn, we think the owners are doing a good job of maintaining their plot of land they call home.

However, to fulfill our unquenchable desire to make order from chaos, the idea of putting grass in the front yard, back yard, medians, parkways, in front of public buildings, and businesses, has led us to a somewhat mild or unseen obsession with the stuff. Grass; it is the filler between physical spaces. If there is no grass, weeds and small wild flowers start popping up. We have unknowingly been trained to believe they make buildings look dilapidated and run down, un-kept and tacky. They attract insects like bees and ant colonies.

Yet, if you stop and look at an empty lot for a minute and see the grass that has been allowed to reach a few feet in height and take a closer look, these nuisances take on a new light. You’ll probably see some wild flowers, grasshoppers hoping from stocks, ants busily networking newly built cities, and bees seek out pollen from a variety of sources. These areas left alone have allowed nature the time to do its thing, and it is providing us with an unseen essential ecosystem service. The ability for pollinators like bees to feed and survive off these areas is essential to our own agricultural survival. There is a great TED talk on the issue concerning the importance of bees by Marla Spivak. In it, she describes our inherent dependency on bees as a fundamental component of all agriculture, and their quickly diminishing numbers. She goes further to state that in addition to industrial insecticides, the lack of wild life corridors is fundamental to their demise and key to their reestablishment. These corridors can be both big and small, from parkways to flower boxes. I bring this up because it concerns a topic the vast majority of us have some control over in our own lives. The households we live in are microhabitats within the larger picture. I seem to hear the line so often now, “yes that makes sense, but what can I do about it.” Our homes are our castles, they are the beginnings of the lives of loved ones, birthplace to our dreams, and the one place where we can do something about “it”. From planting trees and flowers to building a vegetable garden and compost, the benefits to ourselves and nature are vast. The possibilities of what we are capable of within the confines of “house to curb”, reminds me of one of my favorite recent talks by Ron Finley, A guerrilla gardener, getting it done in L.A. 

Already a practice well underway at St. Johns since 2011.

Already a practice well underway at St. Johns since 2011.

However, if you opt out of planting trees, building a vegetable garden, a compost, planting flowers, or all of the above, I would suggest one continue to opt out altogether. Save your money on gas for a lawn mower and why not the mower itself. Kick your legs up and watch the neighbors race each other through the autumn leaf clean up and summer mow down. Throw some endemic flower seeds on the lawn, sit back and let nature work and watch the grass grow. 

 

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