Urban Garden Denver Blog

Tending of the Green

I participated in a distinctly American garden activity this morning, I mowed my lawn. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that the emphasis in my yard is flowers not grass. I live a block from a very large park with lots of grass that my tax dollars maintain, so I find little use for lawn, other than as something small around which I can plant flowers.

While I don’t spend too much effort on my lawn, other than mowing, I do enjoy the quiet whir of the blades (it’s a push mower). I guess you could consider me an environmentalist for my push mower, but I’m not sure how much is green and how much is just pragmatism. I’ve had the same lawnmower for 27 years, since my first home when a friend gave it to us (used), and it still works, so why would I buy another mower? If for some reason I did have to replace the mower, I would select a push mower again, since the size of yards in my urban neighborhood make a power mower overkill.

I thought about my dad as I pushed the mower. Maybe because it’s Memorial Day weekend, a time for remembering, or maybe because my pragmatism with my mower reminds me of him. Since he was born in 1927, he spent his formative years in the Depression. Dad would probably laugh at our current recycling practices. We recycle the packages of items we buy new.  His generation “recycled” because they couldn’t afford to buy new. He repaired items rather than discarding. Even in his years of comfortable salary, he never changed that aspect of his personality.

But his generation also embraced the American ideal of the lawn in post-war suburbs. My parents moved into a brand-new suburban home the year I was born (1959). It had the quintessential American lawn; a great thick lawn, because in Seattle there is enough rain to sustain nice grass.

As I look at my lawn and my flowers, I am aware that many parts of the world don’t have this style of landscaping, except in public places. I found a fascinating discussion of American lawns and the zoning laws that require setbacks and front lawns in the Old Urbanist blog.

Enjoy your lawn this holiday weekend, and the green from our recent rains, but if you are serious about having minimal environmental impact, consider minimizing turf to save water and using alternatives to power tools in the garden. And if you like an old-fashioned sound when you mow, look for a used push mower.

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