Radically Accepting Letting Go of My Grass Lawn

It’s interesting, this having so much grass lawn around my house within a neighborhood of homes with grass lawns. Even the one word term “lawn” is largely assumed to mean “plot of grass.” But, there is room for “lawn” to mean a plot of land filled with other vegetation besides grass. Someday, lawns across the U.S.A. are surely going to be far less grassy and more, well, filled with some other kinds of vegetation. I understand that this has already been gradually happening in some places. Climate change will render this inevitable everywhere across America and other regions.

I am only now embracing “radical acceptance” of the long-term un-sustainability of my front and back yards of lawn. The grass is dying and dead (or looks that way) in whole patches, small and large, while just hanging on over the rest of the ground. We’re in a drought this year, like so much (if not all?) of the U.S. is. But, we’re in a long arc of climate change over any single year.

I feel fortunate to have bought a home with a lot of grass lawn, a dream I long held like so many people have and still do. However, it’s a collective cultural attachment– certainly in my generation and older– this hankering for grass lawns as part of one’s “dream house.” I know; I’ve been a direct participant in this attachment.

What I find myself doing of late is thinking about other possibilities, namely the reality that, someday, my front and back grass lawns will no longer exist. I may have long moved away or died when this is the case, I realize. But, in the meantime, I am beginning to radically accept that maintaining some picture perfect green lawn is, well, not worth my time, money, and focus. (Actually, it never really has been for me.) It feels like a Sisyphean task, and one that goes so much against the natural environment I live in. I feel for all the people around me who work so hard to maintain their grass lawns. I also wonder how this is yet another way I’m somehow different than my neighbors with their ongoing lawns, but that is for another writing.

It’s time I open up to exploring the option of growing plants native to my area, not simply because it’s the right thing to do but, also, because it will be easier and more rewarding to engage in than fighting to maintain the health of such water-demanding vegetation as grass. Either that or eventually re-seeding with a whole other kind of grass that does not need much water and is likely *native* to long-dry parts of the U.S.

I have read that grass lawns are inevitably going to be a thing of the past. I accept this. In the mean-time, in addition to the effects from drought and hotter weather, I will likely soon be more constrained from maintaining my half living lawn via an inevitable watering restriction (or “water ban” as it’s dramatically called here) by my city government. It will continue to wither, leaving room for other possibilities. Such go the cycles of life, which, more and more, I simply accept.

2 thoughts on “Radically Accepting Letting Go of My Grass Lawn

  1. A happy-sad post…
    Hard to swap aesthetics that are linked to emotionally charged content—as green, well-kept lawns/yards are…to so many life-dreams/memories, whether creating what one never had, creating what one always did have, creating what everyone else expects or values, & etc. I have never investigated from whence sprung the penchant for perfect lawns. Maybe I will after reading your post!

    Yes, lawns are slowly—glacially—losing their place as a symbol of life achievement.

    I can’t recall when I became aware of the problems of lawns…I think it was a gradual learning of science pasted onto my past. 😂 I grew up with someone obsessive about the acre of lawn at our house—and with the neighbors’ too! And I was married to someone who perennially seeded the small yard at our home in ill-conceived hope that it would unweed and unpatch itself and look like our very wealthy neighbor’s lawn (tended weekly by a lawn service). He even had the pre-existing sprinkler system repaired but never used it)!

    Since I was little, I have loved thick green grass—the visual lushness and smell of it, and the feel of it on my bare skin, but I never quite fathomed the (to me) waste of time, money, and frustration in ongoing attempts to foster it. Why not grow vegetables and flowers, I always thought, or plant shrubs and trees? 20 or so years ago, my neighbors relinquished their lawn-efforts. They dug it up and created a Japanese rock garden complete with natural pond—gorgeous!

    For nearly 3 years, I’ve lived on 2 acres; what’s not woods and boulders is planted with grass. I never considered watering it because I have a well I don’t want to run dry. I embraced “No Mow May” with delight my first Summer. Then, because I didn’t have a mower and couldn’t find someone to mow for me but once, No Mow May extended through the Summer.

    I discovered I love the look of the long grasses blowing in the breezes, and delighted in identifying the patches of wildflowers that sprung up! Last Summer the amount of rain was shocking. I did find someone to mow several times and, exploring again discovered a wonderful area of thyme lawn some previous owner had planted…a fabulous replacement for grass.

    I am saddened that I no longer fully enjoy the sight of grass lawns, knowing the waste, and often poisons, that have allowed for that look and feel. Yet I also miss the sensory delights of thick, healthy grass. I had the idea I’ll plant a patch—just enough to lie on and revel in and water from a rain barrel.

    Otherwise, my yard (lol, not lawn) is wild; it is in the state the oft uttered insult about a person’s appearance came from: “going to seed.”

    And while I’ve not radically accepted, as you have, my sense of what is lovely is changing with time and curiosity about the variety of newnesses that emerge when I let go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What interesting, well-written recollections about your history with grass lawns. I may have sounded in my post like I’m further along with radical acceptance of this issue than I actually am. It’s a process. I have let go of watering my yard and expecting it to someday look fully green again, which may yet happen naturally or not. But, I am not yet enthused and focused enough to begin to research actual replacement options for my grass, which I need to discuss with my husband anyway. I’m not sure where he’s at with the lawns.

      Thank you for reading and your thoughtful comments!

      Liked by 1 person

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