Earth Hour might just be the best time to be thinking about our soon-to-be-brown front lawns. Tending to these would-be patches of green occupies an inordinate amount of our time. They must be cut throughout the spring and summer. And in order to keep them green and “healthy,” they usually require frequent watering, weeding and fertilization. My question is: Why on earth do we do these things?
Other than creating a uniform green space in front of the house, what is a lawn good for? Not many of us let our kiddos play in the front yard anymore. It would be far too easy for them to get whacked by a car. Most front lawns are too small for a game of croquet or volleyball. No one has a garden party or barbecues on the front lawn. That would just be too weird for words. I think even just sitting out in front of your house in a lawnchair would likely attract the attention of your neighbours and cause them to speculate on the state of your mental health.
Given our concern for water conservation, the use of herbicides and insecticides, and how best to reduce our carbon footprint, I think it is time we did away with our front lawns. The first step in doing that might be benign neglect — no fertilizer — no herbicides — no watering. But that would still mean the lawn would have to be cut, and whether you use an electric or power gas mower, you would still be contributing to greenhouse gases. It would also probably mean you would have a lawn with big ugly brown patches.
So instead of neglect, let’s all replace our front lawns with ground cover that chokes out weeds.
To that, we can add plants and flowers native to Alberta. There’s enough literature around to allow most of us to create gardens that would require little to no water. Just think of how cool it would be when someone visited Edmonton and saw not only how creative we can be botanically, but just how seriously we take environmental issues.
So sing it! Front lawn, huh, yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Uh-huh. Front lawn. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again, y’all.
– Terence Harding is a corporate communicator. He’s a keen observer of all things Edmonton; email@example.com.