October 21, 2016

What's So Great About The Grass On The Other Side Of The Fence Anyway?

   They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  Sometimes the grass is actually greener there because they used a different kind of grass seed and take care of it really well.  Probably they retain a gardener or are retired.  But, that lush, green, inviting carpet of grass is just an illusion.  And I don't mean just by way of analogy.  It's not just that other people whose lives seem so lovely really do have hidden problems we don't know about.  I mean the actual grass, once we get closer, is not going to be the perfect pic-nic spot we were counting on.

    First of all, grass grows out of soil.  Soil is often damp.  After sitting a spell, your pants are going to be damp upon arising.  The grass is never so thick that the soil doesn't show through.  Sure it looked like a smooth span of impenetrable green from a distance, but just walk over and look directly down at it.  You can see through it like a comb-over.  What's more, bugs live in that soil.  And they are not going to take it lying down when you spread your repast upon their family estate.  Some of the more amiable bug folk, like spiders, will take it to be a newly opened restaurant and place their orders.  Wasps, you will discover, are notoriously bad tippers.  Fire ants, are belligerent little buggers who will stop at nothing to evict you.  And they'll succeed.

    Walking on the grass itself is no picnic either.  Unless it's that super fine, soft grass cared for by retirees and Oxford University colleges.  But they won't stand for you standing on it!  The blades would break.  Why are they called blades?  Perhaps the belligerent fire ants wield them in the second wave of battle - but I've never stuck around to find out.

So, how are we supposed to enjoy the grass, be it on our side of the fence or someone else's???  What's it for, anyway?  Good question!  Why do we have lawns?  Being too lazy to do any research, I'll just tell you what I think.  I think it's a form of leisure and prestige, like art kept by a private collector.  A lush green lawn is pleasant to look at and it does bring a feeling of peace to walk in the coolness of a well manicured garden.  But, is it really necessary for everyone in the neighborhood to have their swath of lawn?  Does it really make sense?

Unfortunately, after a dry summer, the grass on the other side of my fence (the chicken pen) isn't very green, either!  The chickens can't wait to get out there never-the-less!

    At a time when small-scale agriculture kept the world going, it was probably a sign of wealth (and, therefor power) to be able to use huge tracts of land for other than growing food.  Only the nobles could afford the luxury of non-productive land - land used only for their enjoyment.  They could surround their homes with large, manicured parks of grass not used primarily for food.  So, a lawn is a sign of prosperity.  It says to all who see it, "I can afford to not spend my own effort growing my food.  I have people who do that for me.  Somewhere else."  Without thinking about it, we have bought into this idea as a matter of habit.  When a new house is built, landscaping (with grass) is just one of the things that is done before it's considered finished.  What if some one decided instead to sow hay on their little quarter acre lot and graze sheep? There are often laws against that.  There have even been cases of people planting their front yards with vegetable gardens and been stopped by the long arm of the law.  So, what makes grass so special?  What even makes uniformity of neighborhood yards so special?

There are some bright spots in the world neighborhood, however.  Some people are doing things a little differently, planting food in unlikely places, getting hands-on with the soil, giving from the bounty to others in need.  Here is just one example.  Paul Quinn College has transformed its football field into a garden where students learn the skill of growing food, the food benefits people in the community and the whole project helped the college to not close its doors!

Next time you go out to your lawn to engage in that endless cycle of water to make it grow/mow to keep it short/water to make it grow/mow to keep it short, give some thought to why you have chosen to become a butler to your grass.  Maybe it would be better for the grass to be greener on someone else's side of the fence!


  1. Just thought of a good reason for a lawn...you can yell out the window in a cranky old lady voice "Hey you kids! Get off my lawn!"

    1. A GREAT, but often overlooked, reason for a lawn!!! I might have to reconsider!


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