One of the things I’m struck with every time I return to the US is the prevalence of the expansive lawn. I don’t know if that’s all of the US, or just Pennsylvania, but there’s a lot more acreage in lawn here than there is back in New Zealand.
I appreciate a good lawn—for picnics and games, nothing beats it. But I also believe in making good use of land, and I believe there is such a thing as too much lawn—especially in Pennsylvania where much of the lawn covers land that was once highly productive farmland.
How much energy and effort are put into the maintenance of vast expanses of grass that no one so much as steps foot on except to mow? What if those expanses were used instead to grow vegetables or were restored to native habitats? How much space in our suburban environments could we use more productively by eliminating the lawn? How much expenditure of fossil fuels and fertilisers could we avoid? How many native plants and animals could we benefit?
I don’t have answers to these questions, but my gut feeling is that in a world with an ever-increasing population, wasting space growing unappreciated Kentucky bluegrass is not sustainable.
At Crazy Corner Farm, we try to make the best use of the entire property, and much of it is devoted to food production or native plantings. We also have a sizeable lawn, but that grassy area is heavily used by the kids for all manner of play. Once the kids are gone, the grass will almost certainly give way to something more productive. We are forever looking to make more efficient use of the space we have. I think in future, we are all going to have to do the same.