Monday, July 16, 2007
Murder Your Lawn - Now!
How many of you watered your lawn this week? Come on, raise your hands, don’t be shy. Good.
Next question. If the average annual rainfall in Santa Barbara is between 18 and 21 inches, and we only received 6 this year, and a chicken gets on a train in Miami heading north at 60 mph into a 6 mph headwind, how long will it take to water your lawn when the reservoirs go dry?
O.K. I’m ready to rant. That’s not usually my style. I try to gently convince people of my views without putting any guilt trips on them. I’d hate to make anyone feel uncomfortable. I’ve never been a hardcore activist about much of anything—more of a quiet “you have your opinion and I’ll have the right one” manifesto.
But last week’s LA Times article (Public Enemy No. 1, July 5) about the astounding impact of our obsession with lawns has got me cursing out loud about the gardens I see in this town and around the nation.
Would someone PLEASE tell me why there are lawns in front of houses? The kids are in their rooms playing computer games, chatting on AIM, or downloading pirated videos, so don’t tell me it’s about a place for them to play. Lawn in the backyard? Maybe. Into nude sunbathing? Get a chaise lounge. Something for the kids and dog to cavort on? O.K., there’s nothing to completely take the place of a patch of turf, but how many thousand square feet do you really need?
Let me go on record as stating that a lawn that is not used for recreational purposes is an act of environmental arrogance. (Geez, I can sense someone out there feeling uncomfortable—better pull back. NO! I’m going to overcome the “everyone has to like me” urge.) I’m talking about arrogance in the form of a blatant or ignorant disregard for the multiple environmental impacts of growing turf, at least the way the vast majority of people approach it.
Arrogance is the use of toxic pesticides to maintain that perfect suburban carpet. I screamed at my radio this spring when those lovely folks from Scott’s Lawn Care Products unleashed their campaign about protecting our kids from “nasty bugs.” They don’t really define “nasty.” I’m not sure if it’s a Donald Trump “you’re fired!” kinda nasty or “Mature Audience” nasty, but we’d better make sure we indiscriminately kill everything, just to make sure.
Arrogance is having an irrigation system that hasn’t been adjusted for the season, checked out for leaks or had the heads fine-tuned to keep them from soaking the sidewalks.
Arrogance is having your gardener run their inefficient mower that spews 10 times more emissions per minute than a car. Then, since no one is enforcing the local ban on gas-powered blowers, the clippings are blown into the gutter and then on to the creeks. Since most folks don’t really care if the gardener complies with the rules (the faster they mow, hoe and blow the less you have to pay), we have the insult of all that dust and exhaust going airborne with the grating noise as the sound track.
Ya get the idea? Do you really have to have it? Imagine life without a lawn. Imagine a diverse, low water-using palette of texture and color that attracts birds and other fun critters.
Consider taking the pledge. Join a support group for the forlawn (use a pun, go to jail). Be the pioneer on your block. Murder your lawn and set yourself free! Up next - murder without herbicides!
(photo credit - Yvonne Cunnington - http://www.flower-gardening-made-easy.com)