PS Cast: Oust the Lawns

The common front or back yard lawn. Why do we have these things? Oust the Lawns!

[Sung intro]
I don’t know where I was going with that. I’m Paul Spooner of the Paul Spooner Podcast. I think we should stop cutting our grass so much, or maybe at all.

I’ve got several reasons for this.

First, I think that grass actually looks better when it’s long and it’s got seeds on the end of it. I don’t know where the fashion of having super short golf-course length grass came from. Probably it’s just a conspicuous display of wealth, that you can afford to have someone cut all your grass down to a consistent height, but I think it just looks better long.

I think it’s also better for allergies. And you might say that this is nonsense because grass goes into seed when it gets long, but hear me out. So when you trim grass, you cut off the top part of the grass, which is the part that has the seeds in it. And this keeps the plant from going to seed. So your grass stays green longer. If you don’t cut it down, it turns brown. But! If you do cut your grass, say, every month, or every week, What’s going to happen is that some of the plants are going to be just sprouting when you cut the grass, and so they won’t be set back by this cutting, and they’ll shoot up. Some plants will go to seed very quickly, some plants will go to seed slowly. There’s a lot of variation in there because… genetic system. To accomplish the goal of making more grass in different environments. And if you create an environment that rewards quick germination of seeds, then you’re going to end up with grass that goes to seed very quickly and releases pollen… a lot! It’s not going to release the pollen after a month or two months or at the end of the summer like it would normally with normal grass, because you’re killing all that grass! You’re rewarding the grass that releases the pollen right dang now!

And of course this is not based on any professional information. It’s just based on, this seems like it makes common sense. If grass goes to seed quicker, it’s going to be able to produce more seeds, those seeds are going to sprout, your lawn is going to end up filled with grass that goes to seed in less than a week. And so you’re going to end up with grass that releases its pollen, even if you cut it every week. So then you have to start cutting it every day! And mark my words! You’re going to select the… natural selection (except it’s not natural, it’s unnatural, you’re selecting) for grass that goes to seed every day. And so, it’s inevitable. If you cut your grass, you’re going to make it go to seed faster. Because that’s the grass that will reproduce. It’s going to create seeds and those seeds are going to sprout because you’re creating a good environment for grass seeds to sprout. You’re giving it plenty of sunshine because the grass is short, and you’ve got plenty of water because you’re watering your lawn. So, it’s inevitable! That’s what’s going to happen.

You’re also going to create an environment that’s good for things like dandelions (which, I think dandelions are great, I think we should have more dandelions) but if you’re spending a lot of time trying to get dandelions out of your lawn… just stop cutting your lawn! If the lawn grows really tall, a foot or two, then the dandelions will die because the dandelions need sunlight and they are very low-growing plants.

I think it’s going to be better for allergies because the plants will go to seed once a year instead of once a week (as it is currently). And while we’re on the topic of allergies, if you’re allergic to grass… uh, then you’re probably allergic to touching it, as well as to breathing the pollen. It raises the question, “Why are you taking care of this plant that you’re allergic to?” It would be like cultivating poison oak in your yard.

Another thing I hear people say is “Oh, I don’t want my lawn for myself…” (They usually say “I couldn’t care less” but that’s nonsense of course as well) But they say they don’t care about their lawn, they do it so that their kids can play on the lawn. And this is nonsense too! I remember being a kid! I loved to play in the long grass. The short grass was not fun. I mean, what can you do in the short grass? You can sit on it. Who wants to sit around? Kids don’t want to sit around! Adults want to sit around! How many adults have you seen sitting around in their lawn? Maybe you do? But if you’re an adult, you can sit in long grass just as easily as you can sit on short grass. And if you’re a kid, the long grass is so much more fun! You can make paths in it! You can make burrows in it! You can pluck it and use the strands of grass to make all kinds of things. You can weave baskets and headbands and all kinds of stuff out of grass.

It’s an incredibly useful natural resource, and to take that resource and say “Oh, well, I want it for my kids, so I’m going to chop up this thing that they can play with into tiny little bits and throw it all away.” That doesn’t make any kind of sense to me! I think it’s the opposite! If you really care about your kids playing in your yard, let your grass grow long, they’ll love it. And if you’re allergic to it your children are probably going to be allergic to it as well, so it’s not as if you’re preparing this place for them to play in. They’ll roll around and get welts all over their body and maybe have an asthma attack. I do not understand why you would want to do that.

If the reason you’re cutting your grass is, “Oh, well, I want to keep the pollen down, because I’m allergic to grass.” take the grass out! Or stop watering it! I mean, don’t take care of it! Let it die! Or put something else in that will kill it! Like dandelions, or moss! You can put in moss. We’ve got lots of moss in our yard and it’s beautiful. If you don’t have to water your lawn, then moss will probably grow just as well as grass. If you do have to water your lawn, then stop watering it, and it will die, and then it won’t grow any more and you won’t have allergies to it because it will be dead! You’ll have won!

I don’t know why people… and then they spend a lot of money on expensive medicines to take care of their allergies, and meanwhile they’re taking care of their grass that’s producing all of this allergic pollen. [sigh] People! Understand what you’re doing!

I understand that not all alergies are caused by grass. And I also understand that pollen spreads a long ways, so even if you let your grass die and your neighbor lets his grass grow it’s going to do the same thing. It’s not a local problem. But that’s why I’m making this recording! I’m trying to convince people that lawns are just dumb.

Stop with the lawns.

It will take less time, certainly, and a lot less effort. So it’s clearly less expensive to just not cut your grass. In some places it’s required by law, I understand this, I think those laws are insane, but I understand. In some places you have to cut your grass. And I would not advise breaking the law for your lawn. Um, maybe I would advise taking your lawn out entirely if the laws are that nuts. That’s understandable, some people don’t want long rangy lawns. Again, I think it looks great, but different people like different things.

I also think that, if you’re going to have an area in your property devoted to growing plants. You’re going to fertilize them, you’re going to weed them, water them, going to take care of them… Why make it grass? I mean, humans don’t eat grass! We eat other things. We eat cabbages and carrots and lettuce and vegetables! So, basically, if you’re going to spend all the effort of taking care of a lawn, why not just turn it into a garden? And you might say “well I don’t have time to take care of a garden.” Well, you don’t have to take care of it any more than you take care of your lawn! Just throw some seeds out there and water it regularly and throw some fertilizer on it and it will grow into a garden! It won’t be the best garden. It won’t be an award winning garden, but it will be better than chopping all the heads off of your grass every week.

I don’t understand why people have lawns. Except it is, like I said, a conspicuous show of wealth that you can devote precious land that you own to a crop that bears no fruit and which you devote a lot of time to making a consistent height. I don’t have a great deal of patience for shows of wealth. I’d rather people just buy gold and wear it on their heads and call themselves kings. That would be a much better use of that wealth than cutting your lawn, I think. So there you go, a few reasons why we should stop cutting lawns or replace them with something else.

So, part of the whole “it doesn’t look as nice as long grass” is that flat lawn, like a putting green (which seems to be some sort of hypothetical ideal of the perfect lawn is, like, this freshly grown putting green style lawn) part of the problem with that is it’s very uninteresting. I mean, like, it’s a flat surface. There’s no real variation, I mean, there’s the blades of decapitated grass. But, it’s not really anything to look at. It’s not inspiring at all. It’s very un-inspiring in fact, I think. It’s just this flat plain. Why would you want that at your house? People spend a lot of money hardscaping, and putting in plants and landscaping, and investing effort in making their yards interesting. So, why would you invest effort in making your yard uninteresting? I just, I don’t understand why that would be.

One of the arguments that people make for cutting their grass is that it’s just what you’re supposed to do. It’s what you with your grass, with your yard, is you have a lawn. And, okay, if conforming to the cultural norm is what interests you, then that’s fine. I don’t have any arguments for you. But then why are you listening to this podcast? I mean, how long have I been interested in conforming to the cultural norm just for the sake of conforming? I’m happy to conform if it makes sense, if it’s useful, if it’s productive, if it’s helpful to someone. But this whole having-a-lawn-and-cutting-it-every-week-thing is ludicrous! So, yes, if you want to conform to the cultural norm, have a lawn and fertilize it and pull all the dandelions out and cut it every week and, you know, whatever. Take a picture and send it in to the… I don’t know who judges lawns. Your neighborhood… what is that… The community… Oh, Oh! It’s a… like a neighborhood corporation… the, oh, I forget what it’s called… Noooooo. It’s the corporation that runs the neighborhood and makes all the laws about how you’re supposed to Homeowners association! That’s what it is! The Homeowners association! Oh, those bastards the home-owners association guys! (Aaaaargh I hate it so much) I’m so glad there’s no home-owners association where I live. I would probably do something illegal involving the people who were running that thing, because man alive, it just drives me crazy. But if your home-owners association requires that you have a lawn and cut it to a certain length… whatever. That’s okay. Or if it’s illegal, that’s okay too. You have to put up with that, people are people and they’re going to make silly laws but… [sigh] come on, just think about it.

Just promise me you’ll think about it.

I know I can’t hear you, but come one, just think about it and man…

Don’t cut your lawn.

For heaven’s sakes don’t cut your lawn.

So, at some point my parents were visiting me, and we own a house now, my wife and I own a house. Or, the bank owns it and we’re paying for it, but we didn’t cut our lawn. And my parents came up to visit and they were very concerned. They were like “Hey, do you need money to buy a lawnmower? Or, we’ll buy a lawnmower for you! Or, you know, we’re really… it would really be…” They couldn’t understand why I would let me grass grow long. Was I being lazy? Was I… what was happening? Did I just not notice that the grass was growing really long? Um…

And so, Mom and Dad, I love you, but this is my response. This is why I don’t like cutting my lawn, and uh, I’m sorry I couldn’t articulate it more thoroughly at the time. But there you go. One is not perfect, nor lightning fast in thinking things through. So, yes, I think that we should turn our lawns into gardens, or turn them into rock piles, or at the very least stop cutting them, um, and if you’re allergic to them then just let them die because why would you harbor something that you’re allergic to?

I’m Paul Spooner. This has been the Paul Spooner Podcast! Allow me to sing you out!

If I can hit the note of this beeper.
[Sings along with the mini-van reverse signal beeper]

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