This being summer, yardwork is on a lot of homeowners' minds (for the record, I live in an apartment, so I haven't done yardwork in years). I never fail to be amazed at the time and expense which people devote to growing a useless, monoculture crop around their houses. The stereotypical, oft-mowed, well-watered American lawn is an imitation of the sheep-cropped, rain-soaked pastures surrounding the manors of the aristocrats of the green and pleasant land of our cultural forebears. We ape the overseas aristos the founders rebelled against, but we employ petroleum-fueled machines to replicate the grazing of animals, a process which transforms the indigestible grass into foodstuffs and textiles. You waste valuable resources to grow a plant which you don't use... hooray, suburbanites! Why don't you deep-six the lawnmowers and purchase sheep to maintain your lawns? That's a nation of sheep I could get behind (uh, this is not a reference to the slippery slope to beastly lovin' that Rick Santorum is obsessed with- honest). Yeah, I'm picturing a nation of sheep, to which we could delegate the whole lawn maintenance thing, not this sort of nation of sheep that a certain member of the blogroll sang about:
I am especially bemused by the suburban weekend squire's campaign to eradicate the simple dandelion. Let me get this straight- you are going to dump a bunch of chemicals on a place where your children play in order to kill an attractive, useful plant so you can grow a plant that is useless to you (unless you get yourself a ruminant that you plan to shear and milk periodically).
If I were ever to own a home with a yard, I'd probably devote a decent patch for a vegetable/herb garden (who am I kidding, I'd just let the weeds, but only the delicious ones, run riot). I'd also plant some wildlife-friendly perennials- friends don't let friends plant annuals (unless they're edible!). I'd also make sure to devote some space to a small bocce court. The well-maintained lawn? Not my style- that's the sort of thing that's appropriate for moist, green lands with large ovine populations.
I'm sure that climate-appropriate, environmentally-friendly landscaping is a trend that is becoming more prevalent, but it seems that devotion to the 19th century aristocratic land management patterns of a foreign land still seem to hold sway. With gasoline hovering around the $4/gallon mark, this may abruptly change.