The Word for Wednesday is . . .

. . . Lawns

In my opinion, it’s a bit ridiculous to plant huge areas of our earth with what is essentially a three-foot hay crop; spend time and money, fertiliser and water, trying to make it into a uniformly green ground cover and THEN spend more time cutting it to two or three inches in height! And how often do you see anyone sitting on the front lawn, enjoying it? Oh, I forgot; that’s not why we have lawns, is it?

We apparently have lawns as a visual reassurance to others that we are just like them. Don’t believe me? In many communities there are laws about keeping yards uniform with the neighbours’ yards.

This can be good if it means not going out each day and being confronted by heaps of garbage and rusting hulks.

But what if you want to grow your own? Food, that is . . .

For the past few years, I have been reading stories of people who have created productive food gardens in their front yards and then were forced to destroy them or be fined huge amounts.

Why? With so many going hungry, not just in third world countries, but here in Canada, the USA and other so-called first world countries, why do we not cheer when someone takes steps to grow food, even in a very small way? Why is uniformity, of homes, but even more so, of people, the most valued characteristic, when we know that monocultures are so unhealthy?

Are we really so insecure that we cannot deal with the fact that people make different choices and have different preferences?

What if we choose to observe the choices of others, then examine our own? or are we trying to avoid that? Why?

Back to Lawns . . .

Does anyone ever ask ‘Why lawns’? Does anyone make different choices about the use of the ground around their house?

What would happen if one out of every two or three homes had a food garden in front, instead of a lawn?

Now for the positive . . .

In some communities, people ARE being encouraged to grow food. Some now allow a few chickens. A handful are allowing a milk goat!! I feel joy when I read those stories; may there be more . . . Until growing your osn is so commonplace it’s no longer newsworthy . . .

http://www.foodnotlawns.com/how-to.html

http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/foodnotlawns

http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/gardening_agriculture/

http://www.fieldsofplenty.com/writings/fieldsofplenty.php

http://www.justfood.ca/community-gardening-network/front-yard-edible-gardens.php

http://www.farmcity.ca/beautiful-front-yard-vegetable-garden-page.html

http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/how-to-install-a-front-yard-vegetable-garden

http://theurbanfarmer.ca/

http://ipc11cuba.com/en/pre-ipc11-design-course.html

I know there are lots of other resources out there, but I’m out of time. Feel free to share your links and comments.

Spring or Autumn, enjoy your garden or any garden today!!

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26 thoughts on “The Word for Wednesday is . . .

  1. I can’t believe there are rules in the world about having your garden like the neighbours! Sounds like the Stefford Wives to me!! Not sure I spelt that right, it’s been a long time since I watched the movie πŸ™‚ I don’t think there are such strick rules in Australia, not that I have heard of anyway. I for one would be picketing like mad if they tried to bring it in. I like a little patch of grass for my darling puppies to use but apart from that less is best πŸ™‚

  2. I do enjoy having a green grassy area in my garden Linne, but if I have the urge to dig out a patch to add a garden, be it a herb garden, vegatable patch, fruit trees or a flower bed, it wouldn’t enter my head to wonder if the neighbours would approve! I believe that if it’s your patch of ground, plant in it what you will. The only time I recall complaining about a garden planted by my next door neighbour was when she completely blocked off the council property outside the front of her home with a vege garden, preventing pedestrians from walking past her house without having to go out onto the street, and blocking our view out onto the road as we backed our cars out of our driveway. The council also objected and she was told to return their property to a grassed area. I’m surprised to hear that there are actually places where you are expected to present your garden in accordance with your neighbours; glad I don’t live there!

    • I think it’s the forced conformity that bothers me most, Joanne. This ‘vision’ of what is acceptable really took hold in the 50s, as suburbs were created. It’s cheaper to build a lot of identical units and the focus shifted from people building homes that suited themselves to developers building houses as cheaply and effectively as possible in order to maximize profits.

      Uniformity suits many agendas; or why do armies work so hard to erase individuality?

      To me, there’s a difference between expecting people to be adults, respect each other’s rights and work together for the good of the whole and expecting people to look and act a certain way in order to be accepted. To me, that seems juvenile.

      We need to shift our standards from appearance to behaviour; from container to contents, if you know what I mean.

      OK, I ‘ll get off the soapbox now . . . πŸ™‚

    • I would have complained about thst neighbour, too! That was disrespectful!

      Luckily, the laws vary from town to town; but it was a trend that disturbs me. There was a development or two on the outskirts of Victoria (BC) where, if you were buying a house, you had to agree to paint it only one of the ‘approved’ colours. You were assigned a day to mow your grass, too. Also, you had only two or three allowed parking spots, so I don’t know what you did if the whole family came for dinnet; I guess ‘nice’ people don’t belong to clans . . . :-/

      I’m with you; I don’t want to live there, either πŸ™‚

  3. I must admit that I do have a certain affinity for grass….lawns. I grew up in the city, and all we had for a front and back yard was yards of concrete. I just wanted green grass my whole childhood. And now, happily, I have it – but, we do water it with lake water, not treated water, and I am letting two of our three acres go back to their natural – wild – state. Now I know that too much grass is not good either! ❀

    • See my other replies, Stacy; I can see why some people want lawns, but not why we should all HAVE to have them. And you are right, too much grass isn’t so good; any sort of monoculture, really. Look at the dust storms of tbe ’30s; my Mum can tell stories . . . and it was worse in parts of the States.

  4. I just can’t imagine living in a country with laws like that, it’s just awful. I’ve been reading alot about people braking laws putting in their gardens. I can’t imagine our government even beginning to pass laws like that here, there would be such an uproar though I know a few councils have tried to stop people owning chooks, milking goats etc. We have dug up our lawns almost completely and put in food…..front and back, and woe betide anyone who tries to change that in the future! People need to plant en masse so the laws become futile!

    • I think it’s a crazy way to do things, too! Why should we pretend everyone is the same? Why not work to be inclusive of everyone barring sociopaths (’cause they don’t recognize any needs but their own).

      I agree; a mass ‘growvolution’ would change things . . .

      • πŸ™‚ I find it hard to believe people can be so intolerant . . . flowers, veggies, grass . . . they’re all beautiful; all are alive. I like to mix flowers and veggies all together . . . wonder what they’d think of that?

  5. We have grass although not could I, in my wildest dreams and imaginings, call it anything like lawn. lol And soon, very soon it’s going to be dug up, covered in cardboard, buried under logs, mown lawns (I want your harvested and discarded 3 inch hay crop peoples) and dirt. LOTS of nice scrummy friable soil. THEN I am going to grow that food. Gods only knows what our manicured front gardening neighbours will think of it and us but the previous owner had the full blown weed and hay crop, rusting hulk and junk pile look happening so a food forest garden, no matter how wild it may look is most definitely an improvement. And once the trees grow tall enough I won;t have to see the disapproving looks should they direct them our way. πŸ˜‰

    • I think that’s the best approach: buy a messy place and improve it; if I have a choice, Zi eill be looking for an old gravel pit or the like.

      This isn’t what I’m aiming for, but it’s a world-famous garden begun by the wife of tbe original owner (then it was just a huge gravel pit):
      http://www.butchartgardens.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

      I want to do something more like the family in the third story in Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. Probably not so much with livestock, but with the same attitude of figuring out nature’s ways, then replicating in such a way as to speed things up.

    • I think your food forest plans exempt you from my disdain (or whatever that mood was LOL) I’m not really against ALL lawns, but when food is expensive and poor wuality, why not let people better their lot (and improve tbe earth)? I also don’t see you and SS trying to force others to live your way; more like leading by example, seems to me . . .

      On the other gand, if I bought Gladys’ place, woukd I wake up one day to huge piles og ‘huglekultur’, with signs saying “Narf7 and rabid were here”??

      πŸ˜‰

  6. My neighbor actually knocked on our door the other day to give us a *second* passive-aggressive message about our lawn. We cut around our house, but we’re letting the rest of it go (around the barn and in the woods), including the acre right next to his lawn (where we will eventually put a pumpkin patch)–eventually, we’ll cut paths to the places we go most. He tried to say the neighbors across the street are very picky and pissy if something from your lawn blows into theirs. He tried to tell me he “had” to cut down a nice big elm because they complained about the leaves blowing into their yard. I thought, “If you did that, you’re an idiot.” But I said, “Um, I don’t respond well to that sort of thing. Chances are, if they pull that on us, I will plant more trees. Also, if they don’t like the grass growing up, they can build themselves a fence so they don’t have to look at it.” He was just a-smilin. I just told him, look, we’re doing something different over here. In about five years, the neighbors around us aren’t going to recognize the place. I think he got the point. I just don’t give a shit. *Another* neighbor, a couple days before this guy, actually asked us if he could cut the grass in the section of our woods that backs his back yard. At first we thought it was just a little around the edge, and if that was it, I wouldn’t care, but no. He wanted to mow practically all the way to the other side of our property, through the woods. Like it was part of his “yard.” We were like, “No.” We told him we want our woods to be able to go back to being a woods, grass and all. Who *are* these people and why do they live out here in the sticks??

    • I SO hear you! When we lived on Pender Island, the winters when our eldest was one and then two, I ran into this for the first time. City people (Vancouver, BC) bought a lovely field above the ocean cliffs to use for a couple of weeks in the summer. Right in the middle they built a tennis court with a high chain link fence. It completely spoilt the view for people who lived there because they loved it, not ’cause they could have a cheap cottage.

      People also complained about the ‘quaint’ twisty driveways, so a couple of incomers bulldozed freeway-width drives. This happened again after we moved to the old log house in the Highlands (now the Caleb Pike Heritage site). Then they began petitioning to have the roads straightened so they could drive as fast as tbey were used to. Tbe new road went right over our well! It was no fun to walk down the road knowing at any minute some fool would come barreling along, putting our lives and our kids’ in danger.

      I think of it every day when I see the ad for Subaru, with the blue-suited ‘family’ racing through the countryside, ignorant of the surrounding beauty, animals, etc. I’m sure my blood pressure rises every time! And I won’t share my thoughts . . .

      You and Big A are SO the opposite to the ususl ‘incomers’!! Your nrighbours should be counting their blessings and thanking their lucky stars!!

      I love your plans for your property. You are not doing anything to harm anyone; in fact, it’s people like you who will save the natural world (one reason I follow you!!) I hope you will become an inspiration to younger people in your area as you go along.

      So hang in there; as I like to think, you are yeast in a big vat of flour; your work is thd water; one day it will all wake up and grow!!

    • Maybe, instead of moving to Tassie or Aus, I should buy property a couple over from yours; just imagine . . . We could do ‘hugelkultur raids’ πŸ˜‰

      Naw, that would be joining ’em. Not my thing (but thoughts can be delicious, can’t they?).

      I’ll just keep fomenting the quiet (and lasting) revolution . . . πŸ˜‰

    • I may not have been clear (in general, Stacy, not to you especially); I don’t mind if people choose to have a lawn (as you say, mowing can be very meditative); what I really mind is people imposing their idea of ‘acceptable’ onto everyone else. Which I suppose takes us into a very grey area if we are talking about someone’s ‘right’ to use their front yard as a dump.

      And I was mainly referring to suburbia, as in apartments/condos there is rarely any ground to argue about and in the country, people can have both garden and lawn. In suburbia, though, the ‘rules’ have become pointless and even harmful.

      When my boys were 3 and 8, we lived in a narrow house in the city for a year and a half. The back yard was too shaded for any gardening; even grass didn’t grow well there. The front yard was tiny and nearly impossible to mow. We got permission from our landlady (living next door) to put in garden beds and grow some salad veggies. It was a great success and we had many compliments on it! Victoria, at least in the James Bay area, was very open to alternative yard usage, so long as it was not an eyesore.

      I think allowing veggie gardens; indeed, urban farming, could save money for many families. Well, the links say it better than I can.

      • Good! We DO agree!!

        I’m a clothesline fan, too, but I like to hang underwear outside, but on a porch or somewhere else sheltered. Nothing like sheets dried in the sun, is there?

        We have gotten so precious of late, we rival the Princess and her Pea . . .

    • Sorry I called you Stacy! I cant see the original message when I use my phone to reply. If I forget, I have to copy what I’ve written, discard the message, go look at the comment, then return and paste. I realized as soon as it posted. 😦

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Linne

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