Do Americans hate their promoters enough to get rid of them?


The idea of ​​the American Dream can conjure up images of neat suburban homes with immaculate green lawns, but achieving and maintaining that lush carpet of lawn can seem like a nightmare.

Most people don’t ride on lawns, they get them when they buy the house. says Paul Robbins, author of Lawn People: How Weeds, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are.

“This is the first thing we learned in our research is that most people would rather not have them, but feel that they need to have them, or that they can’t do anything about it. And the need to have them is that they feel obligated to their neighbors,” Robbins said.

Matching up with neighbors can be timely, expensive, and unhealthy, due to the chemicals used to keep the lawn looking perfect. But non-conformance can also be costly. Janet and Jeffrey Crouch, a Maryland couple who live about 45 minutes outside of Washington, learned that lesson when they decided to give up their lawn to plant native, wildlife-friendly plants.

“We started growing native plants and the butterflies, bees and birds started coming right away when we stopped using pesticides and fertilizers,” says Janet Crouch.

Janet and Jeffrey Crouch in their front yard in Columbia, Maryland, May 10, 2023.

But their next-door neighbor has complained to the Homeowners Association, which like a typical HOA oversees the management of some apartment communities and is usually run by a board of volunteer homeowners. The Crash were ordered to withdraw their native vegetation and replace it with grass. They refused.

We didn’t use pesticides or fertilizers. “We knew we were doing things that were good for the environment,” says Janet Crouch. “Therefore, it seemed fundamentally wrong to tear this piece of paradise that we had created and put it in the grass, which is an ecological dead zone.”

Meadows are considered ecological dead zones in part because they do not provide food or shelter for wildlife, including pollinators such as birds, bees, and butterflies, which are among the wild animals whose numbers are declining at a rapid rate due to habitat destruction and other human-related actions. A million species worldwide face extinction, many within decades, due to biodiversity loss.

“The basic ecological fact about the turfgrass is that it is not native to North America, with perhaps one exception. The American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn.

An industry report indicates that Americans spend nearly $100 billion on lawn care annually, with each household spending, on average, $503 on lawn care and gardening.

“Supergreen monoculture is an ecological greatness,” Steinberg adds. “It uses a lot of chemical inputs, a lot of water — you water a lot — and it leaches nutrients out of the soil, and that brings people back to the store for more chemical inputs, especially fertilizer.”

Chemicals used in lawn maintenance include glyphosate and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, better known as 2,4-D, which is suspected of causing cancer and other health diseases and can contaminate groundwater. Some states already prohibit the use of certain chemicals on lawns. Others, particularly in the arid West, have restrictions on how often or if people can water their lawns.

“There are more than 40 million acres across the country that have a lawn,” says Nancy Lawson, author of The Lawn. The humane gardener And Wilderness scenery. Lawson is also Janet Crouch’s sister and the person who encouraged Crouch to install the local plants. “The grass is the first crop that is irrigated, so it takes a lot of water.”

Nancy Lawson in her backyard, where she grows native plants, Sykesville, Maryland, May 10, 2023.

Nancy Lawson in her backyard, where she grows native plants, Sykesville, Maryland, May 10, 2023.

Lawson has created a wildlife oasis from the native plants surrounding her home. Live in an area of ​​Maryland that is not governed by HOAs.

“I think the future of turf, as it stands now, is doomed,” says Lawson. “So, what’s the alternative? Well, it shouldn’t be a rock or something because you’re warming the planet more. So the alternative is plants, native plants that know how to grow in your soil conditions, in sun conditions, in weather in your area.”

Crouches’ fight against the HOA lasted three years. The couple say they have spent $60,000 fighting to preserve their natural garden. They win and as a result of their efforts, Maryland passes a law that allows people to grow native plants instead of grass, no matter what the HOA wants.

Robbins, who is also a professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, believes that prairies will always be there, just not in the state they are in now.

“They’ll be targeted where they’re most appropriate, where you have kids and you want them to have a place to run,” Robbins says. “There will be fewer of them, and they will live alongside more biodiverse options.”

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