Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony

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Yale University Press, 2001 - Gardening - 178 pages
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Americans love their lawns with a passion rarely seen in other countries; fifty-eight million Americans enthusiastically plant, weed, water, spray, and mow an estimated twenty million acres of lawn. But is our dedication to these lawns contributing to the serious environmental problems facing the planet? The authors in this book state that the lawn may be an ecological anachronism, and they argue that we must rethink the way we care for our lawns so that these small pieces of the environment will demonstrate our commitment to a more ecologically sound world. The authors outline the origins of ideas about the lawn and the reasons for its enduring popularity. They describe the development of ideas about its form and the making of the lawn into an object of beauty. They explain how the lawn industry has encouraged the spread of the "industrial" lawn to sustain high sales of mowers, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation equipment. However, say the authors, Industrial Lawns can have high environmental costs: for example, power motors contribute to regional air pollution and global warming; excess fertilizers and pesticides wash off our lawns and run into our wells, streams, and lakes; grass clippings that are bagged and hauled away are major contributors to solid waste problems; and the watering of lawns depletes scarce water supplies. How can we create environmentally sound lawns? The authors offer a variety of ideas - such as moderation in our use of lawn supplements, ecological use of grass varieties, the substitution of hand mowers for power motors, and the use of grass clippings to fertilize the lawn. These strategies can help us to care for conventional lawns in ways lessdangerous to the environment. They also propose two more radical alternatives: Freedom Lawns that allow natural and unrestricted growth of grasses, clover, wildflowers, and other broad-leafed herbaceous plants; and total replacement of the lawn with new landscape designs. By choosing these alternatives - which can be aesthetically pleasing as well as ecologically correct - we can unite our environmental concerns with direct personal action, acting locally while thinking globally and creating a new garden aesthetic in the process.
  

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Contents

Questioning the Lawn
28
The Economic Juggernaut
46
Environmental Costs
66
A New American Lawn
90
The Lawn and Sustainability
115
Notes
159
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Bormann is emeritus professor of forest ecology at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

DIANA BALMORI, PhD, is the founder of New York City-based Balmori Associates, a firm that is internationally recognized for its success in realizing complex urban projects that integrate innovative sustainability systems and patterns of use within an overarching sense of place. Her firm has created master plans ranging from a blueprint for Bilbao, Spain, to the design for the Farmington Canal Rail Trail to a waterfront park on the Mississippi River. Balmori Associates is implementing a 46,000-square-foot network of green roofs in Long Island City, New York. She has been appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts through 2007. Balmori teaches at the Yale School of Architecture as well as at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

GABOURY BENOIT, PhD, is associate dean for research and professor of Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Engineering at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. At Yale, he is also director of the Center for Coastal and Watershed Systems and codirector of the Hixon Center for Urban Ecology. Dr. Benoit's research focuses on the behavior, transport, and fate of chemicals in natural waters, soils, sediments, and biota. Special areas of interest are non-point source pollutants, toxic contaminants, and human-environment interactions in urban areas.

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