A hallmark of suburbia and country living, a nice green groundcover has long been accepted as a norm. But does it really make sense? Its soft landing for kids’ activities is a definite plus, but there are so many drawbacks:
--Maintenance is hard work, involving equipment, water, sweat, and perhaps chemicals.
--A lawn attracts insects. Some are delightful and good, such as fireflies and ladybugs, but there are also mosquitos and fire ants.
--Using chemicals to control weeds and unwanted insects negates that safe playing place for children and pets, and eventually contaminates groundwater.
My friend Paul Baker recently pronounced the lawn as the height of stupidity (next to the necktie) and declared that he was letting a portion of his go feral. He set off a chain of Facebook comments that included agreement, skepticism (“but what about ticks?”) and accusations of anarchy (“you are the reason homeowners’ associations exist”).
My own contribution to the chain was something along the lines of “go gravel!” I fought the lawn battle on North Caicos years ago, deciding finally to end it all with non-grass landscaping.
The decision was neither quick nor easy. Twice I spent weeks on my hands and knees, pulling out burr grass, then planting “good” grass, only to have the burrs win again. I became a confirmed grass-hater and invested in rolls of plastic ground cover and truckloads of gravel. I haven’t regretted the decision.
Others on North Caicos have taken different routes. Those closer to the beach have also fought the burr grass, but after they eradicate it (if they do), most opt for sand and xeriscaping. Lovey Forbes rakes casuarina needles weekly, forming paths amid his sand beachfront. In higher-density Bottle Creek, the small yards go au naturel. Only a few islanders try to emulate Provo’s big resort landscapers and plant lawns, though they soon understand how costly and water-profligate maintenance can become.
I have no problem with growing either useful or ornamental plants in one’s yard. But grass? Nah. It’s time to get rid of that idea, both in the islands and in suburbia.