Lentis/Lawn Care in America: Intensive Agriculture, No Harvest

Lentis/Lawn Care in America: Intensive Agriculture, No Harvest

From the scent of contemporary garden clippings to yard video games of soccer, lawns function a ubiquitous a part of life in a lot of the US. Past a easy plot of vegetation, lawns symbolize an American dream of home-ownership.

An unnatural phenomenon, mono-culture (single crop) lawns require an intensive quantity of irrigation and labor to keep up. The garden care business has grown with the adoption of such lawns, yearly raking in billions of {dollars}, whereas additionally encouraging the tradition surrounding lawns. This chapter examines how lawns grew to what they’re right this moment, the impacts that they’ve throughout the U.S., and what the way forward for lawns might appear to be.

Historical past[edit]

Delivery of Lawns in America[edit]

Garden UVa colourful winter solar 2010

Lawns originated within the early 1700s as an costly and completely aristocratic panorama as a result of crude upkeep know-how, cattle and scythes, of the time. The power to dedicate not solely land but additionally labor away from crops and livestock was a powerful image of standing.[1][2] Early People in a position to journey envied these landscapes. Thomas Jefferson in 1808 constructed his Monticello Property with one of many first lawns within the new world serving as an icon for early American structure and landscaping.[3]

Early know-how started to interrupt down the large barrier of entry for widespread folks to keep up their very own lawns. In 1830, Edward Beard Budding invented the primary garden mower as an enchancment over the scythe. Initially costly and cumbersome, Budding’s invention could be dramatically improved over the following decade.[4] In 1841, Andrew Jackson (AJ) Downing wrote the primary American home-owner’s garden care information, “Treatise on the Idea and Observe of Panorama Gardening”. [5] This know-how and training tandem arrange a vivacious 19th century for the American garden.

19th Century[edit]

The primary garden sprinkler, invented in 1871, was so environment friendly that cities had been compelled to preserve water throughout droughts, discouraging residents from watering their lawns across the clock. On the World’s Truthful held in Philadelphia in 1876, the USDA, a garden care advocate, showcased grasses and upkeep methods to teach the plenty.[1] One other spike in reputation manifested itself within the development of the primary American golf programs. Particularly influential was, to at the present time, the nation’s longest constantly operated course, St. Andrews, in New York (1888).[6] Pristine programs within the public eye exploded the garden’s reputation; homes started to pop up alongside programs, and everybody wished fairway-quality grass of their entrance yard. This mix of know-how, training, and publicity shaped the primary true increase of garden tradition in America.

Affect of the World Wars[edit]

Levittown, Pennsylvania: The second Levittown, accomplished in 1958

Throughout WW1, victory gardens ebbed the progress of lawns by monopolizing entrance yards with fruit and veggies.[7] This regression was quickly recovered by the Truthful Labor Requirements Act of 1938. This mandated the 40 hour work week, permitting owners extra time spent at dwelling for leisure or tending to their lawns.[8]

World Warfare II grew the recognition of lawns extra radically than any interval in historical past. In between the 2 wars, the garden care large Scotts started delivering grass seed by mail to properties and launched the primary fertilizer.[9] The elevated availability, enhanced vitamins, and mass manufacturing of garden meals shaped an ideal basis for the garden care business to develop.

Getting back from WWII, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 allowed WWII veterans to acquire low cost mortgages for properties.[10] As a result of demand for housing, the primary true suburban cities started to develop. Actual property developer William Levitt created what is taken into account the daddy of recent suburbia, Levittown. These large communities supplied a garden, grass seed, and fertilizer to every dwelling and required residents to mow their garden at the least as soon as per week.[11] This new sort of city imprinted lawns as a normal in American tradition.

Progress of Massive-Scale Garden Care Trade[edit]

Merchandise and know-how drove the expansion of lawns by way of the 20th century. With already established demand, the rise in availability and efficacy of fertilizers and herbicides blew garden care out of proportion. After Scotts’ 1928 advertising of the primary lawn-specific fertilizer[9] the garden care corporations started trying to find different enhancements within the business. The event of herbicides additionally formed public conception of lawns. DDT and a pair of,4-D (dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), killed each weeds and different crops beforehand thought of acceptable. This included nitrogen-fixing clovers and different crops useful to garden progress. Herbicide corporations, conscious of this improvement, started advertising campaigns to villainize these crops as weeds whereas additionally encouraging homogeneous grass.[12]

Land Utilization[edit]

Turf grass is estimated to cowl a staggering 1.9% (163,812 km2)of the continental United States.[13] This makes turf grass the most important irrigated “crop” within the U.S., the following being corn which covers 43,000 of 202,000 km2 complete irrigated cropland space.[13] Turf grass might be present in neighborhood yards, freeway roadsides and medians, parks, airports and lots of different areas. Turf grass, whereas primarily serving aesthetic functions, supplies clear strains of website beside roads and helps forestall runoff and water air pollution.

Turf grass is among the most cost-effective floor covers to put in, at about $132 per 100 m2, however additionally it is probably the most costly to keep up, costing $2,117 per 100 m2/12 months. [14] Efforts have been proposed to cut back these prices on publicly owned land by mowing much less or changing the turf with native crops and flowers. Such options would scale back value and improve biodiversity (planting flowers for pollinating bugs) whereas sustaining a sexy aesthetic.[15][16]

Water Consumption[edit]

Turf grass wants round 2.54cm/week of water to be able to reside. Taking regional climates under consideration, this results in an estimated 695 to 900 liters of water per particular person per day or 99,130 Mm3 per 12 months for garden upkeep within the U.S.[13] In keeping with the USDA, solely 71,748.22 Mm3 of water was utilized in 2013 for irrigated cropland.[17] Many turf grasses should not native to the environments through which they’re positioned, necessitating these irrigation ranges.

California’s State Authorities enacted emergency drought restrictions from 2014-2017 in response to extreme droughts. A few of these restrictions have remained in place to be able to protect an surroundings of conservatism for future droughts. These restrictions embody a ban on the irrigation of lawns inside 48 hours of a rainstorm and the irrigation of roadside turf.[18] Push-back in opposition to these restrictions required the state to enact protections for residents from Residence Homeowners Associations (HOA). These restrictions forestall HOA’s from punishing residents who set up drought-tolerant landscapes or enable their lawns to die off throughout drought emergencies. [19]

Carbon Sequestration[edit]

Some constructing house owners would possibly make use of rooftop gardens for his or her temperature-regulating potential. Proven right here is one such backyard on high of Rockefeller Middle in New York Metropolis

Lawns do have environmental advantages as they take away carbon-dioxide from the air by way of carbon sequestration. Turf grass within the continental U.S. pulls between 10.Four to 25.7 Tg of carbon from the air per 12 months. [13] Nonetheless, the online discount of carbon-dioxide drops when contemplating the upkeep required for lawns. The fertilizer business provides an estimated 2.9 Tg C/yr whereas the usage of gas-powered mowers provides 0.7 to 1.1 Tg C/yr. If these lawns weren’t maintained, carbon sequestration would lower to 1.2 Tg C/yr as most turf grass all through the nation cannot survive with out fertilizer and irrigation.[13]

Inexperienced roofs, lined with grass and different crops, have been utilized in cities to offer carbon sequestration in air pollution heavy cities and to cut back the the city warmth island impact by way of evaporative cooling.

Chemical Utilization[edit]

Many herbicides and pesticides are probably dangerous to each people and the surroundings. Some herbicides and pesticides are suspected to be endocrine disruptors, a classification of chemical compounds more and more linked to results resembling immune suppression, reproductive abnormalities and even most cancers [20]. Even Scotts Miracle-Gro, a big garden care firm that produces fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, said of their 2001 annual report that “[they] can not guarantee that [their] merchandise, notably pesticide merchandise, won’t trigger harm to the surroundings or to folks underneath all circumstances”. [21]

Regardless of this, an inclination for chemical overuse has emerged round garden care. In 1997 the typical family use of chemical compounds per acre (3.238 kg/ha) was nearly Three instances that of agriculture (9.127 kg/ha).[22] Such overuse is commonly tied to garden upkeep being motivated by its connection to neighborhood relatively than revenue. Garden care corporations have capitalized on this notion by way of intelligent advertising. [22]

Various Garden Actions[edit]

Native to Virginia, tufted hairgrass consumes much less water than conventional garden grasses.

Lately, actions have grown that promote the usage of floor covers and different grass-replacements as a technique to counter the detrimental impacts of garden use.

Many floor covers develop sideways and unfold over the bottom, requiring little mowing. They require a lot much less water than conventional garden grasses and often stay inexperienced all year long. Some even present chemical advantages, fixing ranges of nitrogen or consuming extra carbon than conventional grasses. Floor covers like clover, creeping thyme, and hosta are an ideal plant-it and leave-it technique of garden care.[23]

Decorative grasses, mosses, and synthetic turf are additionally applicable options. These choices require little to no upkeep and devour a lot much less water. Native grasses are enticing as a result of they’ve advanced to develop of their respective environments, adapting to minimal water provides. This additionally supplies a wild or pure look that some worth.[23]

Authorities Involvement[edit]

In drought-ridden areas or areas with low water provides, intensive garden irrigation is unsustainable. Native governments in lots of areas typically set up water restrictions to restrict water utilization on a residential scale.

In drought heavy southern California, the Metropolitan Water District has supplied $2 per sq. foot of garden changed with drought tolerant landscapes to chop again on irrigation necessities.[24] Acceptable replacements embody native or drought-tolerant crops that additionally retain a pleasing aesthetic. Synthetic turf just isn’t allowed because it supplies no ecological advantages and might improve the world’s temperature. This specific effort was so profitable that, when began in 2015, it was briefly shut down on account of lack of funds after initially allocating $239 million in rebates.[25]


People spend giant sums of cash on sustaining and enhancing their lawns annually. Nonetheless, there isn’t a harvest or any tangible, financial profit from the exhausting labor related to garden care. There have been efforts to encourage the usage of gardens throughout the US. Through the 2008 recession there was a rise of gardens, with a 15 to 20 p.c uptick in seed gross sales, as folks tried to economize.[26] Whereas the quantity of effort required to keep up a backyard is not essentially lower than that of a standard garden, a backyard produces meals that may be eaten or offered, including tangible worth to the garden.

Cultural Obstacles[edit]

The choice garden motion could not achieve vital steam except the social perspective in direction of it modifications. Robbins and Sharp discovered that garden house owners generally reported feeling an obligation to handle their personal lawns to defend neighbors’ property values and help “constructive neighborhood cohesion” to carry “the neighborhood collectively”.[22]

The home with knee-high grasses is well-known in each neighborhood. House owner’s associations typically have guidelines detailing the minimal quantity of garden upkeep required to reside of their neighborhood. Some neighborly disagreements even escalate in severity till finally a decision is reached in courtroom. Below stress from their HOA, a Loudoun County, Virginia couple filed go well with to be able to defend their prized yard meadow. [27]


  1. ab Hansen, J. (2016, October 04). The Historical past of the American Garden. Retrieved from https://www.pennington.com/all-products/grass-seed/sources/the-history-of-the-american-lawn
  2. Lowen, S. (1991, September). The Tyranny Of The Garden. American Heritage, 42(5). Retrieved from https://www.americanheritage.com/content material/tyranny-lawn-0
  3. Monticello’s West Garden. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.monticello.org/
  4. A Historical past of the World – Object : Lawnmower, Stroud. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/NI2ZjBwpTcqYdtpXFnIzUQ
  5. Downing, A. J. (1844). A treatise on the speculation and follow of panorama gardening: Tailored to North America. New York: Wiley and Putnam.
  6. First In Golf Since 1888  . (2018). Retrieved from https://www.saintandrewsgolfclub.com//
  7. Schumm, L. (2014). America’s Patriotic Victory Gardens – HISTORY. Retrieved December 11, 2018, from https://www.historical past.com/information/americas-patriotic-victory-gardens
  8. Wage and Hour Division (WHD). (2016, September). Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/hrg.htm
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  10. Historical past of the GI Invoice. (2018, Might 03). Retrieved from https://militarybenefits.information/history-of-the-gi-bill/
  11. Gutis, P. (1987). LEVITTOWN, L.I., AT 40: ONCE A SOLUTION, NOW A PROBLEM – The New York Occasions. Retrieved December 11, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/1987/09/21/nyregion/levittown-li-at-40-once-a-solution-now-a-problem.html
  12. Kolbert, E. (2008). Turf Warfare | The New Yorker. Retrieved December 11, 2018, from https://www.newyorker.com/journal/2008/07/21/turf-war-elizabeth-kolbert
  13. abcde Milesi, C., Elvidge, C. D., Dietz, J. B., Tuttle, B. T., Nemani, R. R., & Working, S. W. (2012). A STRATEGY FOR MAPPING AND MODELING THE ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF US LAWNS.
  14. Latocha, Piotr. (2002). Value comparability – preliminary and upkeep prices of lawns and floor cowl crops. Warsaw College of Life Sciences – SGGW, Horticulture and Panorama Structure. 39-42.
  15. Barringer, F. (2007). Wildflowers Discover Favor With Freeway Gardeners – The New York Occasions. Retrieved December 7, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/29/us/29freeway.html
  16. Connif, R. (2013). Inexperienced Highways: New Methods To Handle Roadsides as Habitat – Yale E360. Retrieved December 7, 2018, from https://e360.yale.edu/options/green_highways_new_strategies_to_manage_roadsides_as_habitat
  17. Richardson, Okay. (2017). HOA Homefront: Drought emergency is over, so again to enterprise as ordinary? – Orange County Register. Retrieved December 8, 2018, from https://www.ocregister.com/2017/04/17/hoa-homefront-drought-emergency-is-over-so-back-to-business-as-usual/
  18. Dwyer, C. (2017). Gov. Jerry Brown Lifts Drought Emergency For Most Of California : The Two-Method : NPR. Retrieved December 8, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/07/523031241/gov-jerry-brown-lifts-drought-emergency-for-most-of-california
  19. Richardson, Okay. (2017). HOA Homefront: Drought emergency is over, so again to enterprise as ordinary? – Orange County Register. Retrieved December 8, 2018, from https://www.ocregister.com/2017/04/17/hoa-homefront-drought-emergency-is-over-so-back-to-business-as-usual/
  20. Aktar, M. W., Sengupta, D., & Chowdhury, A. (2009). Affect of pesticides use in agriculture: their advantages and hazards. Interdisciplinary toxicology, 2(1), 1-12.
  21. Scotts. (2001). The Scotts Miracle-Gro Firm 10-Okay. Retrieved December 5, 2018, from https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/knowledge/825542/000095015207009349/l28885ae10vk.htm
  22. abc Paul Robbins & Julie T. Sharp (2003) Producing and Consuming Chemical substances: The Ethical Financial system of the American Garden, Financial Geography, 79:4, 425-451
  23. ab Grass Garden Alternate options for an Eco-Pleasant Yard. Retrieved December 9, 2018 from https://gilmour.com/grass-alternatives-backyard-lawn.
  24. Goldenstein, T. and Morin, M. (2015). Southland water district OKs $350 million extra for garden alternative rebates. Retrieved December 9, 2018 from https://www.latimes.com/native/lanow/la-me-ln-mwd-rebate-20150526-story.html.
  25. Guerin, E. (2018). Audio: Nonetheless acquired a garden? Right here’s one other likelihood to receives a commission to tear it out | 89.Three KPCC. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.scpr.org/information/2018/04/10/82195/still-got-a-lawn-here-s-another-chance-to-get-paid/
  26. Kolbert, E. (2008). Turf Warfare | The New Yorker. Retrieved December 11, 2018, from https://www.newyorker.com/journal/2008/07/21/turf-war-elizabeth-kolbert
  27. Sullivan, P. (August 6, 2018). On this subdivision, lawns should be mowed. However what about meadows? The Washington Publish. Retrieved December 10, 2018 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/native/virginia-politics/in-this-subdivision-lawns-must-be-mowed-but-what-about-meadows/2018/08/03/a18e03bc-966c-11e8-810c-5fa705927d54_story.html.

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