Reader requests respite from ‘lawn-mad nation’

Dear editor,

This is not a complaint; it's just an observation of our lawn-mad nation.

Dear editor,

This is not a complaint; it’s just an observation of our lawn-mad nation.

Imagine there are no dandelions. It’s easy if you try. No herbicide hotspots, a lawn tractor that shifts on the fly.

Imagine an unproductive wasteland covered in great swathes of clipped, emerald green, monoculture grass. This isn’t a particularly edible variety of plant. These are not fields of golden waving wheat stalks, a store of food that will feed the world’s projected 10 billion people.

Not productive, these are shaved fields of overwatered stubble, green, groomed, and styled, with care that’s fetishistic, trimmed like virile, futile suburban goatees, Manchus, mutton chops, and Van-Dykes.

The modern machine that tames the greens is the ubiquitous, often-green and yellow, almost always cheaply made, over-emitting and under-muffled, but sometimes red, rumbling, belt-driven riding lawn tractor.

The tractors’ back wheels are big, and the front wheels smaller, a muscle car stance without the chrome and horsepower, calculated to make the driver feel a little taller. John Deere, Guts, Glory, HD, its just the same old spam, commercial interests capitalizing on, the age old hubris of man.

Now I know that opinion is narrow, perhaps tinged with a little lawn, and mini-tractor envy. Besides I’m not sure of the power of my dandelion, debris, and moss-covered ivory tower, to change the hobbies or habits, of any golf course-cultivating human.

This is a complaint, a whinge, a whine, a cry of frustration; it’s about the noise involved in grooming our ornamentally lawned nation.

It’s not that I expect us to give up our green. The chance that well-trimmed and watered grass will go away anytime soon would certainly seem a fantasy.

Maybe a reality check would be better instead. Your lawn machines are noisy. They are poorly muffled, exhaust-spewing, grass-chewing, and heard every day of the week. As it is with all the lawns in earshot, we have seven days a week of internal combustion sounds, slashing two-stroke string concertinas, eradicating weeds as they whip around.

Is it complaining to ask for a few days free from this post-industrial obsession with grounds?

I propose we celebrate these lawn doctors, lawn managers, lawn fetishists who are far from few, and give them their own days: lawn days. Perhaps Wednesday and Saturday, a weekday and weekend, concentrated intervals, when the lawn junkies can go on a bend.

That’s right, I think that a bylaw would do, to restrict noisy machines to a day or two, or three, four or five. This field fetish is Paul Bunyanism, piecemeal, two and a half inches high cut, and green beyond the pale. Quixotic on an urban scale, but like the clearing of the woods, I’m sure it will prevail.

I’m just wondering if we might not halt, pause the harvest, and come up with few quiet days off?

Steve Hodge,


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