29 September 2009

Closing Out Lawns

I can immediately abandon my project concerning lawns. Within hours of posting the entry of yesterday, I found a book called Lawn People by Paul Robbins (2007). His subtitle is How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are. In his extended introduction he nicely provides a summary of his chapters and also provides a recapitulation of the literature on lawns that preceded his book.

One of those books is Front Yard America by Fred Schroeder. Way back in 1993 Mr. Schroeder wrote this entire book about the democratic underpinnings of the American lawn. He documented the relatively recent “emergence” of the lawn as we know it. In spite of his acknowledgment back then of the ecological side effects of the lawn and unlike me, Mr. Schroeder was apparently entirely approving of all this.

"Turfgrasses" is the term I should have been using. Turfgrasses were imported from the United Kingdom. They and their descendants are therefore by definition not indigenous to America. They are “water and chemical hungry.” It is impossible for turfgrasses to thrive in America without lots of water and lots of chemicals. That is simply an unfortunate fact.

The only other thing to add is that if Mr. Robbins' thesis is correct, it would be a very difficult undertaking to break Americans' addiction--my word, not his--to lawns as we know them. Luckily, according to the New York Times, the folks in Los Angeles can still water their lawns two days per week even though their water mains are breaking up.

In any event, that is that. I need not pursue this any further other than to read.

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