What Grinds My Gears? Lawns.




You know what really grinds my gears?


You know what I’m talking about. The green space outside your house. Thanks to societal norms, we feel the need to tend our lawn — water it, fertilize it, mow it. We take better care of our lawns than we do developing countries.

If you happen to live in an apartment or are too young to worry about mowing a lawn, thank your lucky stars.

Now, there is a certain calmness that I’ve learned to enjoy from going out each week and mowing my lawn, so I can’t say I despise the entirety of the lawn care business, but overall I think as a society, we are obsessed with the wrong things and our lawns are more of a symptom of our apathy than anything else.

Don’t you want people to like how your house looks? 

Here’s a better question — who cares? I mean, it’s my house and I should decide how it looks, right? Now, I’m not saying I want to just let weeds take over or anything, but that’s kind of how I think about it. Part of my reasoning may be based on the fact that my house is the second to last lot on a dead-end road and very few people see it, so I hate to “get all dressed up” for company that never shows up.

What’s the big deal with lawn care? 

The big deal is that we as Americans spend an ABSURD amount of money on lawn care. According to the book American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn by Ted Steinberg, Americans will spend 150 hours on their lawn each year; North America spends over $40 billion on lawn care each year, more than the continent spends on foreign aid; and 30% of the water used on the East Coast goes towards the watering of lawns. In fact, the book mentions a golf course in Tampa, Florida that uses 178,800 gallons of water each day — enough water to meet the needs of 2,200 people.

So you’re like — stats from 2005? Those are so outdated. I agree. How about these figures from a Mental Floss article in 2012? The figure is still hovering at 2012 and that figure is care of Bloomberg. I suppose in light of the other figures on that site, the lawn care amount may be reasonable, but like I said, the numbers are just a symptom of the upside-down society we live in.

This guy. Seriously?

This guy. Seriously?


I see the Scott’s Lawn Care commercials on TV frequently (which tends to happen when you leave ESPN and their continuous run of baseball coverage on). While they are catchy, I find myself upset sometimes.

I suppose maybe I’m a little more aware of the rest of the world than some, but there are some serious starvation issues happening RIGHT NOW in South Sudan. I don’t want to sound like your mom with leftover brussel sprouts or asparagus on your plate, but there are literally starving people in Africa. If you didn’t water your lawn this week, would that really help?

Probably not, to be honest.

But…the more we were aware and the more we ignored the Scott’s Lawn dude, the more money we might have to send money and aid to areas in the world where fresh water is a serious problem.

How Elitist must we look to developing countries around the world? They don’t have enough potable water to drink in a day…yet we use it to brush our teeth, take 30 minute showers, wash our dishes, wash our clothes, and often times water our lawns. That if we turn up our noses at water that “doesn’t taste quite right.”

Yes, this is about lawns, but it is about so much more.

ws_infographics_outdoorWould you believe that the average American household uses 320 gallons of water each day? And 30 percent of that is used outside. (My math isn’t exceptional, but I come up with 96 gallons used outdoors by each family each day).

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, it is believed approximately half of that water is wasted, whether due to evaporation, wind, runoff, or just inefficient methods of irrigation.

Ultimately, I know I’m not going to change a lot of minds. In fact, I just mowed my lawn yesterday and this afternoon and I’ll do it again next week. But, when it comes down to making it perfect or whether to save my money to give towards worthy charities, I’ll think twice for sure. It would be great practice for us all to do so. There are millions of people who cannot afford to feed their families, let alone give them safe drinking water. We take that water and feed it to grass — which has NO nutritional value. It might even be better if local municipalities would allow and encourage their residents to replace their ornamental lawns with more beneficial plants like corn, soybeans or wheat.

End rant. Thanks for listening.