Keep off the Grass: Parenting at the Crossroads
As a relatively new homeowner, I have grown to hate my lawn. And as we know, hatred quickly turns to neglect as neglect turns into an expanse of dirt where there once was a verdant carpet of grass.
Yes, I unintentionally killed my lawn (for the record, it was a weedy, crab grass, shag of a lawn to begin with). Many of my neighbors likely think I should hang my head in shame, as I am obviously bringing disgrace to my neighborhood with this cocoa-colored slate, where a shabby lawn once stood. But really, I feel liberated by, what I view as, a clean slate and an opportunity to break the lawn addiction.
I have been slowly making my way through an excellent book entitled Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn by artist, activist and architect Fritz Haeg. The entire conceit of the book, as you may be able to guess, is that the traditional front lawn functions as a highly inefficient, water-thirsty, dead zone of grass (as I like to call it “nature on a leash”) where nature should prevail. The book is part of a larger Edible Estates project that encourages homeowners to tear out their front lawn in favor of an edible landscape, therefore your time, energy and resources will produce the fruits and vegetables of your labor.
Now, this idea is not exactly breaking new ground, as many other authors and activists have previously championed cutting our addiction to grass, but the book itself is so artful, and encouraging that you would be remiss if you didn’t give this one a look.
As for me, I think I am going to devote a portion of my former lawn to a modest vegetable garden (snap peas, mint, tomatoes, etc) and the rest I might blanket with a low-maintenance ground cover, or possibly a field of clover where my son could frolic. If anyone has suggestions, I am open.
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Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.