The English are obsessed with our boring lawns are we?
jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Wednesday 6th July 2022
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The English are obsessed with our boring, suburban lawns. It’s time to let them go
By Eva Wiseman – The Guardian.
To Me: I love my lawns. They create me lots of hard work. I slave to try and get them looking spot on but never manage perfection. They cause one of the biggest arguments with me and my wife. Not quite the biggest. They cost me so much money on feed, and other items to care for it and equipment for them. But I do not necessarily agree with this article that suggests it is time for the lawns to go.
But my love of good writing always overcomes my view of the subject. So here is the article for you anyway.
After all you may agree.
Carry on reading…
Across the suburbs today, the low scratching buzz of a hundred lawn mowers. This afternoon the smell of cut grass and premature sun lotion will rise in clouds of wet nostalgia and suffocate us, as is its right. Down the road a golf course vibrates in the heat, empty but for three men in the distance plodding importantly between holes. And here at my desk, looking down at our lawn, I seethe.
Each year my hatred of lawns increases by a centigrade. But discussing it with a partner, parent or friend is trickier than it might seem – a conversation about the problem with lawns often lands as comfortably as one about their drinking habits or how often they look at Instagram. The UK is obsessed with lawns, addicted, the UK is in a problematic two-century long relationship with the garden lawn. It is the most enduring fetish of our time. So to criticise lawns, which cover an estimated 23% of the entire urban land area on the planet, feels to many like a criticism of the very structures of their lives. It is to point out that they are naked.
A video went viral the other day – a couple getting married in their back garden had their vows disturbed by a neighbour’s insistence on mowing the grass. The real love affair, of course, missed in all the commenters’ kerfuffle about her rudeness, was between that woman and her lawn, a deeply needy monoculture of invasive plants designed originally and maintained since as a status symbol. A patch of drying (may I? OK why not) patriarchy, created by first flattening the earth, seeding it, then constantly watering (using 329bn gallons of municipal water each summer’s day), fertilising and cutting, to create the effect of a neat green carpet, to place order upon the chaos. And to avoid the scorn of neighbours, who, should you let your grass grow long, might call social services or slag you off on Nextdoor.
Each year my hatred of lawns increases by a centigrade
Lawns are sacred territory. I will never forget the time I went to visit a friend studying at a famous university and someone screamed down at me from a window, too loud for morning, to “Keep off the grass!” It was later explained to me that only “fellows” were allowed on the lawns, an explanation that came in a voice that suggested they were saying something completely sane and normal, rather than an expression of moral injustice, the lawn as a symbol of order and entitlement. I only wanted to sit somewhere soft to look at my phone.
The appearance of a manicured lawn is so important in our shrivelled culture that those lucky enough to have a garden, but who can’t commit to grass do not, as one might expect, plant flowers or plop down a few stones. Instead they choose to carpet their yard with plastic turf, stuff that smells awful in the heat and ends up in landfill five years later. Scrolling through rental properties, many of which today come ready euthanised with artificial grass, is a deeply depressing project – the infliction of blandness, the lack of imagination, a photocopy of a picture of a field, crammed behind a maisonette off the high street.
It’s the imagination thing that particularly gets me. It’s a privilege to have a garden, but the main function of a lawn seems largely (if unconsciously) to flaunt that privilege – it originally became popular as a way of showing you were wealthy enough not to need to grow your own food. That space outside does not need lawn – it could be virtually anything (I call to my partner as he gets out the mower). If we redefine what makes a “weed”, then existing lawns can become thriving little meadows (he ignores me), dandelions revered for their lollypop-like grandeur, the way they explode in light wind. If we plant fruit there we’ll have strawberries next year. If we grow mint and thyme soon we’ll smell them from our beds. A climbing frame, a mossy mess, a dining room, or a large and haunted tree. The fences could be pulled down, the neighbours invited to join us, a whole terrace of houses sharing one long wild park along the railway line.
Do I seem angry? Too angry for a person talking about the garden in early summer. Perhaps. It’s personal, of course. I’m angry at myself. As somebody drawn back to the suburb’s midlife, I think my disdain for the lawn is tied up in my complicated guilt about the suburbs themselves, which, while fabulous in many ways, at their worst are garden-centred, no man’s lands where pettiness reigns. A lawn, through this lens, is another way to keep looking inward. A lawn is the constant chase for control. A lawn is nature smothered by class aspirations, the relentless weekend drag of a mower across its neck. Yes, there is a clear environmental argument against the lawn, but for me the main problem is that it suggests a never-ending pursuit of niceness, a kind of fear. Sure, you can lie on a lawn in warm weather and look up at the clouds, but they do some really great hammocks these days, and besides the sky is too big and mad, let’s be honest. I plan to spend the summer on my back, eyes shut as the grass grows long around my armpits, and if anyone asks what I’m doing, I’ll tell them, “Rewilding.”
Email Eva at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @EvaWiseman
TOP THIRTY OF THE DAY
TOP 30 most ground-breaking albums of all time
- David Bowie – ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars’ (1972)
- Beyoncé – ‘Lemonade’ (2016)
- The Beatles – ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967)
- Prince – ‘Purple Rain’ (1984)
- Elvis Presley – ‘Elvis Presley’ (1956)
- Kanye West – ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ (2010)
- Aretha Franklin – ‘I Never Loved a Man the Way I love You’ (1967)
- The Clash – ‘London Calling’ (1979)
- The Spice Girls – ‘Spice’ (1996)
- Michael Jackson – ‘Thriller’ (1982)
- Amy Winehouse – ‘Back to Black’ (2006)
- Jimi Hendrix – ‘Are You Experienced’ (1967)
- Marvin Gaye – ‘What’s Going On’ (1971)
- The Beach Boys – ‘Pet Sounds’ (1966)
- Nirvana – ‘Nevermind’ (1991)
- Stevie Wonder – ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ (1976)
- Joni Mitchell – ‘Blue’ (1971)
- N.W.A – ‘Straight Outta Compton’ (1989)
- Pink Floyd – ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ (1973)
- Bob Marley and the Wailers – ‘Catch a Fire’ (1973)
- Bob Dylan – ‘Bringing it All Back Home’ (1965)
- The Rolling Stones – ‘Let It Bleed’ (1969)
- Frank Sinatra – ‘Songs for Swingin’ Lovers’ (1956)
- Mary J. Blige – ‘What’s the 411?’ (1992)
- Patti Smith – ‘Horses’ (1975)
- Miles Davis – ‘Kind of Blue’ (1959)
- Jay-Z – ‘The Blueprint’ (2001)
- Lauryn Hill – ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ (1998)
- Dusty Springfield – ‘Dusty in Memphis’ (1969)
- Daft Punk – ‘Discovery’ (2001)A
REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
– Nicolas Chamfort
“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” ―Abraham Lincoln
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
Happiness is…a luscious green well-manicured lawn.
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
“If I’m not back in five minutes, just wait longer.”
—Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey), Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Love is…that look that says it all.
PEARLS OF WISDOM
“A good rule to remember for life is that when it comes to plastic surgery and sushi, never be attracted by a bargain.”
A time for a luscious green well-manicured lawn…a time for a rewilding of the lawn.
©2022 Phil M Robinson