Environmentally concerned gardeners (of which I count myself one) have been calling for a long time for the elimination of lawns. I remember as a horticultural student at the New York Botanical Garden almost 50 years ago hoping that America’s lawns would be replaced by some other sort of landscape treatment that is less addicted to toxic chemicals and less greedy for water and polluting fertilizers. More recently, I’ve come to regret that lawns provide so little benefit to wildlife.
Despite all of this, the area of lawns in the United States has continued to expand. I’ve come to accept that there are reasons why Americans are so loyal to turf. As a groundcover, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to install. It’s also relatively simple (though laborious) to maintain, so this work can be outsourced to affordable unskilled labor. In addition, turf is more tolerant of foot traffic than almost any other sort of planting, which makes it an ideal place space for children.