It’s hard to imagine a time before tidy green lawns. But, the aesthetic of short, well-kept grass can be traced back to France in the 1700s. Back then, the sheer amount of manual labor required for upkeep meant that only the rich could afford it.
It wasn’t until the 1870s that lawns were popularized in the US. Even then, they were status symbols for the wealthy. Green spaces for the masses were comprised of wildflowers, naturally occurring grass species, and vegetable gardens. With the help of the newly invented lawnmowing device (and the rise of suburban neighborhoods), lawns achieved ubiquity in the 1950s.
Today, monolithic lawns are less status symbol and more status quo. And it makes sense: they are the cheapest option, and they minimize decision-making and planning. Lawns also provide areas to congregate, pathways for walking, and a uniform aesthetic. But, because lawns are human-engineered, they require a significant amount of upkeep and maintenance over time: irrigation, weekly cutting, and annual care.
To be clear, tidy, grassy lawns are not a bad thing in smart landscaping. But similar to how we plan for patios to not take up our whole outdoor space, we believe lawns should claim more purposeful space too. Planning a purposeful lawn supports the natural ecosystem and reduces the monetary and material cost of upkeep.
- If a lawn won’t be used for walking or playing, consider an alternative.
- Diversify your landscape with features such as mini meadows, pocket prairies, or rain gardens.
- Reduce your fertilizer and pesticide use.
- Return grass clippings and leaves to the soil
- Implement mechanical practices like aeration.
Ready to learn how you could build a more purposeful lawn for your commercial landscape? Give us a call today.