Grass Without Guilt (or How I Loved to Love the Lawn)
Two of the easiest ways I know to get punched in the face are to insult someone's religion or to say you love your lawn. Well, poking fun at someone's faith is not my thing, even if you do go to the wrong church and practice human sacrifice. (YOU know who I'm talking about.)
But I am prepared to stand up right now in front of nearly 300 million red-blooded Americans who eat meat, shoot things, and fight the Communist Menace to proudly proclaim:
"I love this country and I love my lawn!"
Not That There's Anything Wrong With That
Many of you in this neck of the woods probably want to know what all the hubbub's about. Is there something wrong with having a lawn? A lot of pointy-heads think so. They rage against the All-American lawn as an environmental horror, blaming it for polluting our water, polluting our air, and killing this country with chemicals. No one should waste water, fertilizer, or energy on any lawn of any size, they insist. Instead, they should cover their yards with pasture, meadow, mulch, gravel, native plants, and even artificial turf. These alternatives are always better.
Surely the Grump Agrees
No, he doesn't. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. Grumpy loves grass (and not the kind the lawn-haters smoke).
Do people water and fertilize their grass too much? Sure. Do they douse it with too much pesticide? Absolutely. Do they miss out on more interesting plants when they devote their whole yard to lawn? Affirmative. Do big lawns belong in bone-dry regions? No way.
But that's only telling one side of the story. How many garden experts are brave enough to tell you what's good about a lawn? Just one that I know. Grumpy.
America Goes Green
Therefore, in this first installment of a multi-part series on lawn care, Grumpy will flawlessly argue the positive aspects of lawns -- those soft, silky, carpets of green that have made this country the envy of the world every bit as much as purple mountains' majesty or amber waves of grain.
What The Lawn-Haters Don't Want You to Know
1. Lawns are cool -- really. When grass releases water through transpiration, it noticeably cools the air around it. Why do you think city centers are always 10 degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside in summer? Because cities have little grass and few trees. Replace your lawn in hot summer areas with gravel, bare dirt, or artificial turf and you'll turn your yard into an easy-bake oven that greatly increases AC costs and feels a lot like Hell.
2. Lawns are clean -- really. Grass cleans the air by controlling dust. Farmers in the Great Depression found that out when busting the native sod to plant row crops resulted in the Dust Bowl. Lawns also clean water by reducing runoff and erosion. Grass is permeable, so water filters through it, instead of running over it. In heavy rain, it stays in place, unlike bare soil, mulch, and gravel. One other thing -- lawns keep your yard from turning into a mud pit when it rains. Don't want mud tracked through the house? Plant a lawn.
3. Lawns soak up CO2. A lawn is pretty much all leaves. These leaves absorb CO2, which can cause global warming, and release O2, otherwise known as oxygen. Grumpy has always enjoyed breathing, so he thinks this is a good thing.
4. Lawns give kids a nice place to play. It's nearly impossible to a decent game of soccer or football on the deck, septic field, tall grass prairie, boulder field, or cacti and succulent display. Oh sure, people in communes will probably disagree and there are always those who think 10-year olds who want to play ball should hop on the subway to the nearest park. But Grumpy says the best park is your own yard.
5. Lawns feel great. Have you ever treated your tootsies to a tiptoe through a lush, soft, cool bluegrass lawn? A transcendent experience, I assure you. Far superior to a hike through the tick-filled brambles or a romp over lava rock.
6. Lawns are beautiful. No, I'm not talking about the shapeless suburban lawns that run from houses to street with nothing in between. I'm talking about lawns that connect garden spaces, serve as backdrops for flowers, display distinctive shapes, provide a textural contrast to paved areas, and remind us that green is a beautiful color.
7. Lawn maintenance is good exercise. Mowing your lawn is free. Joining an exercise club is not. Why jog around the neighborhood lugging weights in your hands when you can just cut the grass? Mowing the lawn is the simplest maintenance there is -- a lot simpler than caring for a perennial or vegetable garden, thank you.
If You Don't Hear From Me Again.....
Grumpy has been silenced by the conniving, craven cabal of anti-lawn conspirators who hate our freedom. But that probably won't happen. You can't silence the truth. America loves its lawns.
That doesn't mean we can't improve lawn care practices. In subsequent posts, I'll enlighten you and the rest of humanity about ways to care for your beloved lawn without wasting water, fertilizer, energy, and time.
Grumpy and Generosity both start with G.