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Lose Your Lawn

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Have you taken your hounds fox hunting lately? You haven't? Well, maybe you've gone to visit a friend's estate in a horse and carriage? You haven't done that either, have you? Most of the popular trends of 19th century British aristocracy are not the norm in 21st century America. Except for one: the lawn.

Centuries ago, most Europeans (and their descendants on our side of the pond) produced food on their land. Whether in the form of kitchen gardens, farm fields, or pastures for raising livestock, most folks relied on their land in order to eat.

Only the rich could afford to flaunt their wealth by devoting large areas of land to an inedible, yet beautifully manicured, green lawn. Back then, without lawn mowers, lawn maintenance required paying a servant to "mow" the lawn with a scythe. Lawns were mega status symbols.

The usefulness of the lawn as a status symbol is a thing of the past. Today, if your lawn serves a function at all, it's as a soccer field or play area for your family. For many Americans, lawns yield no benefit at all. You mow it, you water it, you weed it, you fertilize it. Why?

Your lawn, if you've got one, might be covered with snow right now. But the groundhog has spoken and spring will be upon us soon. America's No. 1 crop is lawn turf. As a nation, we spend $30 billion on our 40 billion acres of lawn each year.

Think about it. Is it time to ditch your lawn?

Lawns were status symbols because they were wasteful. They've lost their status, but they're still plenty wasteful. If all lawns were watered at the recommended levels, then we'd use 238 gallons of water per person, per day maintaining them during the growing season. Most of us also use fertilizer, which is made using fossil fuels and often pollutes our waterways. All to grow a crop we don't eat.


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