Green grass is not so green: The problematic nature of the manicured lawn  

Cleanly manicured grass spread across every lawn is not common everywhere in the world. The fixation on monoculture lawns are an interesting nuance of American culture, but it is not a harmless preference. Illustration by Sarah Chantres/The Daily Campus.

As the weather has gotten much warmer, students all around UCONN have begun to utilize the immense areas of grass to lounge. Its a stark contrast from the colder months where nobody seemed to walk across the grass to reach their destination even when they provided shortcuts. I always found just a bit strange how, for most months, we do not walk across the grass, opting instead for the paved sidewalks and paths. I found it even stranger that in some places no one was meant to walk across the grass. Moreover, I remember vividly the effort adults would put into to maintain their beautiful green lawns. It was a practice I did not completely understand. What was the point of the grass if it couldn’t survive? The forest didn’t need our help to survive and yet this natural part of homes did? This phenomenon makes us question our socialized habits as well as begin to wonder how these habits potentially harm the world around us.  

The fixation on monoculture lawns are an interesting nuance of American culture, but it is not a harmless preference. If you walk in the forest it is not very natural to see a plain of one kind of green grass, carefully maintained. Though grass is indeed a natural thing, the prevalence of yards as we know them today did not arise in America until the 17th century when some species of grass we now commonly see was brought over by Europeans. Soon after the lawn was popularized by leaders like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, it became a status symbol. Indeed, only the rich could afford to have land that held no agricultural value or habitat potential. Now, the manicured lawn is a critical part of the suburban home.  

From an environmental lens, grass has proven to be not so wonderful. The EPA determined that about a third of all public water is used to water grass. And to further maintain the integrity of lawns people often use fertilizers and pesticides alongside other chemical heavy products that can wash into water reserves and cause problems to the environment. .  

However, change is beginning to occur. Some people have opted for yards of wildflowers and native flora that are better suited for the climate they are in and concurrently lower maintenance, making them better for the environment. Grass seems like a small aspect of life, as it is part of our world that we rarely think about. But when we begin to see the effect it holds on the environment and the ways in which we came to find beauty in expanses of grass we can begin to see why a change may be necessary. We can begin to walk across the grass.  

Leave a Reply