Time to Rethink our Lawns

By Lori Gill-Pazaris
November 2, 2022

As the leaves fall and birds begin their southward migration, property owners heed the primal call to tame the wild. Marching to the drumbeat, we engage in a custom that arose during Medieval times. Wealthy European castle dwellers planted grass fields that nourished livestock that grazed them and created a clear view of approaching enemies.

So why during a time of unprecedented technological and scientific advancement do we cling to a cultural norm that once served a useful purpose and supported a healthy environment, but has, now, evolved into a practice that can degrade the environment and place life itself in peril? The answer lies, in part, in what a perfectly manicured lawn said about the homeowner. Lawns once signified a caring neighbor, who was successful and had the time and means to create an eye pleasing view. That image is changing.

Neighbors are recognizing the benefits of using natural fertilizers and amendments, like clean compost. These, unlike pesticides and other manufactured yard chemicals, do not poison the environment and our potable water. They are planting native perennials, shrubs, trees, and grasses, employing techniques that reduce noise and air pollution, and creating food and habitat for people and critters. By leaving leaves and dead plant stems they are supplying homes for insect and pollinator larvae.

Environmental challenges have never been so great. It is imperative that we consider the impact of factors like climate change and overdevelopment and adopt practices that create a healthier future for all beings. Concord area residents have the knowledge, drive and ingenuity needed to embrace this new paradigm. We need to rethink lawns…….. 

Contact Lori Gill-Pazaris, founder of Biodiversity Climate Action Network and past steering committee member, Concord Climate Action Network. Lpazaris@gmail.com