Green lawns are terrible for the environment. They’re also embarrassingly old-fashioned and out of style
Americans love front yards with big, carefully manicured lawns. In fact, homeowners spent a record $47.8bn in lawn and garden retail purchases in 2018 alone. Then there’s the water usage: 9tn gallons a year nationwide just on gardening. We consume this water even as parts of the American west are in the grip of a horrific drought that has paralyzed farmers, triggered huge wildfires, and has some states considering water cutbacks.
The reason we spend so much time, money and natural resources on our lawns, as Kristen Radtke recently noted in the Los Angeles Times, is that decades of television and popular culture have cemented in our brains a certain image of the American dream: house in the suburbs, white picket fence, two-car garage, glossy green lawn. The problem isn’t just that that image is difficult to attain for a lot of Americans. It’s that it’s embarrassingly dated.