Love Your Lawn

Okay, I've had it. For years, I've stood wimpily by as so-called "experts" and "opinion makers" like those on Garden Rant launch assault after vicious assault on one of our most sacred and treasured institutions -- the family lawn. I can stand by no longer.

photo: Brian Bender faithfully guards a national treasure -- the White House lawn.

To these sanctimonious pontificators, the lawn is an evil, horrible, awful thing, responsible for ecological ruin, stress-related illness, and the baffling ascendance of Sarah Palin. Only by downsizing the lawn or (preferably) eliminating it altogether, they decree, can we sinners be restored to righteousness.

What a load of composted cow manure.

Those bloggers, sloggers, and pettifoggers who so vehemently condemn the lawn would do well to contemplate the alternative. It wasn't so long ago that houses were surrounded by "swept yards," composed of lovely 100% dirt. When it rained, the yard turned into 100% mud, which was soon tracked through 100% of the house. But lawns put an end to the quagmire. Green grass cleaned up more towns than Wyatt Earp or Pine-Sol.

"But we're not living in the nineteenth century anymore," say the lawn-haters. "Lawns today are bad. They require too much water." Did you ever notice that most people saying this have in-ground swimming pools and bathtubs that fit four? Besides, where I live in the Southeast, it rains so much I can often go an entire year without watering my Bermuda grass. One year, I stepped off my deck and fell into a kelp forest.

"Lawns are bad for the environment," insist the lawn-haters. "All that lawn fertilizer winds up in our groundwater."

"Hey," I reply, "ever visit a dairy farm? Those mounds you step in aren't all anthills."

"But lawns are a monoculture," sneer the lawn-haters, "a mass planting of a single species susceptible to diseases and insects."

"You know what's great about a monoculture?" I counter. "You can care for it all in the same way. It's like Southwest Airlines flying nothing but 737's."

Then the lawn-haters get mad. "Lawns are high-maintenance!" they bellow, expecting me to cringe at their reckless use of the M-word.

"Oh really," I respond, "you mean like those mulched, "natural" areas people stick out in front of their houses? The mulch decomposes, so you have to keep spreading it. If you don't, you get more weeds than Ozzie Osborne still has brain cells (that doesn't sound like a lot, but it is). The fact is, it takes much less time to maintain 1,500 square-feet of lawn than it does to maintain 1,500 square-feet of annuals, perennials, bulbs, vegetables, herbs, fruits, or Dr. Phil's ego."

Give Me Grass or Give Me Death!

"So what if your lawn takes a little work?" I ask. "In case you haven't noticed, most Americans move slower than continental drift. We're overweight, diabetic, out-of-shape beanbags. But mowing the lawn is good exercise -- a lot more exercise, may I add, than snipping a sprig of lavender or staring blankly at your mulch."

"Lawns are ultra-American," I conclude. "How can you claim to be 'green' when you bash the greenest symbol of freedom America has ever produced -- the cherished lawn? Look above at my son, Brian, proudly having his picture made in front of the White House. What's that gorgeous expanse behind him? Gravel? Mulch? Chaparral? The Frozen Tundra of Green Bay's Lambeau Field? Nope. It's the White House lawn. A place where kings, diplomats, Presidents, and dictators can mingle with the common man under the watchful eyes of the Secret Service. To stand there is to feel true kinship with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, FDR, JFK, and the Scott's fertilizer people. It's thrilling."

But the lawn-haters will not be swayed. Which is why, dear Grumpians, if you believe as I do, your must let your voices be heard. Tell Garden Rant -- tell the whole world -- that it may no longer besmirch your loved one.

Stand by your lawn.

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