The obsession with lawns.

This is a carryover from 18th century, rural England. It developed, along with the focus on garden symmetry. These fashions carried over to the colonies where a manicured lawn was the symbol of upper class living since poor people could not afford a house, let alone a lawn.

This brings us to, I guess it was in the 1970's. My friend had "weeds" on her property.... weeds of every variety and they were where everyone knows.,grass should have been grown and mowed. 

This was in South Orange. So she gets a summons from the local constabulary, building inspector or whoever --- failure to remove weeds. She shows up in court with photos of all the "weeds," lists their Latin names and their medicinal attributes in American folk medicine and from Native Americans to European folk medicine. 

The summons was dismissed and the weeds remained until the house was sold.


So this brings us to question if every house in M/SO needs a manicured lawn. Is the cost of physical energy, pollution to maintain and added chemicals worth it?

Are there zoning laws that need to be examined and reconsidered?


I did away with the lawn in front of our house, and the berm, in stages.  Some 10-15 years ago, I converted the front lawn to a perennial garden (with Creeping Phlox filling in as ground cover and weed blocker).

The berm has 3 large flower beds** and two bush type Crepe Myrtles (approved by the arborist, Todd Lamb at the time).

** = with spring bulbs (Daffodils, Hyacinths & wind flowers), reblooming Iris and reblooming tetraploid Daylilies, plus Creeping Phlox.  This provides color from March through August, and occasional reblooming Iris in Sept/Oct.

In 2020 I only got 3 summonses for the front being 'overgrown' from a code inspector, who doesn't understand the first thing about gardening.


tomcat said:

I did away with the lawn in front of our house, and the berm, in stages.  Some 10-15 years ago, I converted the front lawn to a perennial garden (with Creeping Phlox filling in as ground cover and weed blocker).

The berm has 3 large flower beds** and two bush type Crepe Myrtles (approved by the arborist, Todd Lamb at the time).

** = with spring bulbs (Daffodils, Hyacinths & wind flowers), reblooming Iris and reblooming tetraploid Daylilies, plus Creeping Phlox.  This provides color from March through August, and occasional reblooming Iris in Sept/Oct.

In 2020 I only got 3 summonses for the front being 'overgrown' from a code inspector, who doesn't understand the first thing about gardening.

 Were the summonses dismissed or did you pay?


We've replaced a lot but not all of our grass with wild flowers and have not used chemicals in decades.  We live with the mix of weeds and grass.  It's all green.  There's a growing and widespread banning of Glysophate throughout the world:  https://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/toxic-tort-law/monsanto-roundup-lawsuit/where-is-glyphosate-banned-/



Formerlyjerseyjack said:

tomcat said:

I did away with the lawn in front of our house, and the berm, in stages.  Some 10-15 years ago, I converted the front lawn to a perennial garden (with Creeping Phlox filling in as ground cover and weed blocker).

The berm has 3 large flower beds** and two bush type Crepe Myrtles (approved by the arborist, Todd Lamb at the time).

** = with spring bulbs (Daffodils, Hyacinths & wind flowers), reblooming Iris and reblooming tetraploid Daylilies, plus Creeping Phlox.  This provides color from March through August, and occasional reblooming Iris in Sept/Oct.

In 2020 I only got 3 summonses for the front being 'overgrown' from a code inspector, who doesn't understand the first thing about gardening.

 Were the summonses dismissed or did you pay?

 Dismissed.


I'll never understand the overwhelming desire to master nature. So much of "lawn care" harms the environment - chemicals, emissions, habitats, etc. - but here we are in SOMA, seemingly becoming more and more a stereotypical suburb focused on appearances and messing with neighbors rather than and idealistic enclave centered on positive values of inclusion and regard for neighbor and nature. I love that I moved from an increasingly fussy Maplewood street - near a councilwoman with hate in her heart and access to summons folk - to a kinder, friendlier street.


You would enjoy my latest neighbor ('I don't give a s.... about your problems'. at about 98 decibels)


Good topic. I hope it gets some traction.


jimmurphy said:

Good topic. I hope it gets some traction.

 Traction would begin with researching the rationale for mandatory manicured grass lawns. Public health? Anal retentiveness?

After the rationale is identified, it can be challenged.


My guess is that most will argue aesthetics and property values.


I'm working slowly and steadily to replace the grass/weed mix in my yard.  Lots of fruit trees, bushes, and perennials.  I'm just lazy.  I hate mowing.


Depending on the source, as a rationale, you get "... to promote property values, enhance the general welfare (whatever that means, also Constitutionally vague), improve physical beauty (which is in the eye...) and enhance ecological and aesthetic qualities."

That one is from the N.Y.C. preamble to landscape regulations.

Right away, we can argue that lawn implementation, care and management practices are detrimental to the stated goal of enhancing ecological qualities.


Wasn't there a recent case in Maplewood where a person who turned his front yard into vegetable gardens got summonses for erecting screening into the raised beds?


The obsession with lawns is an environmental and quality of life issue.  An immaculate lawn is a biological desert - tons of pesticides and fertilizers.  The noise from lawn machinery is a quality of life issue.


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

 Traction would begin with researching the rationale for mandatory manicured grass lawns. Public health? Anal retentiveness?

After the rationale is identified, it can be challenged.

 Mosquito control?  Rodent control?  Overgrown vegetation can harbor both.


musicmz said:

Wasn't there a recent case in Maplewood where a person who turned his front yard into vegetable gardens got summonses for erecting screening into the raised beds?

 I hadn't heard of that.  The only reason I could think of is if it was a corner property and sight lines for traffic/pedestrian safety were being compromised.


joan_crystal said:

musicmz said:

Wasn't there a recent case in Maplewood where a person who turned his front yard into vegetable gardens got summonses for erecting screening into the raised beds?

 I hadn't heard of that.  The only reason I could think of is if it was a corner property and sight lines for traffic/pedestrian safety were being compromised.

 I wonder if the screening looked a bit like a fence, and they got cited for putting a fence in the front yard.


How Dad, a landscaper since the early 1960s, decided to transform his suburban front lawn about 15-20 years ago. (There’s still grass in the back and a little on one side.)


Very nice. There's a landscaper who lives on Northfield Rd in Livingston, about 1/4 mile or so east of Shoprite that has no front lawn, just a beautiful assembly of small trees and shrubs. I should take a pic.




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