Megan Garber: A Wish for the End of Lawns

The Atlantic:

As that country developed, its landscape architects would sharpen lawns’ symbolism: of collectivity, of interlocking destinies, of democracy itself. “It is unchristian,” the landscaper Frank J. Scott wrote in The Art of Beautifying Suburban Home Grounds, “to hedge from the sight of others the beauties of nature which it has been our good fortune to create or secure.” He added, magnanimously, that “the beauty obtained by throwing front grounds open together, is of that excellent quality which enriches all who take part in the exchange, and makes no man poorer.” Lawns became aesthetic extensions of Manifest Destiny, symbols of American entitlement and triumph, of the soft and verdant rewards that result when man’s ongoing battles against nature are finally won. A well-maintained lawn—luxurious in its lushness, implying leisure even as its upkeep had a stubborn way of preventing it—came, too, to represent a triumph of another kind: the order of suburbia over the squalor of the city. A neat expanse of green, blades clipped to uniform length and flowing from home to home, became, as Roman Mars notes, the “anti-broken window.”

Change is hard... but when will we redefine wise landscaping in America? Some places are beginning to make progress.