1. The lawn hasn't grown up as a raw obsession America has with its lawns as the story may often be told. The desire for the lawn doesn’t come first. The lawn starts in a development practice where we clear the land, level it, grade it, drain it, build roads and urban infrastructure, build homes, and then put the soil back in place. That soil can’t be left bare. All soil, as part of the finishing of development, must be covered in turfgrass, both for cleanliness and to prevent the erosion of soil. If the soil was allowed to erode away, it would quickly clog up all the constructed storm water infrastructure and alter the local waterways with sedimentation. Point being, the monsters of American culture aren’t out there fetishizing lawns so much that paradise is being paved over for it alone. Lawns, in their original production and construction, are about inexpensive and effective land development.
2. Andrew Jackson Downing followed by Olmstead in the mid to late 1800s advocated for open spaces, as if each suburban home was set in a communally maintained park of which individual homeowners tended their own piece. But by the time Levittown (recognized as the first mass-produced suburb, a planned community for veterans returning home from WWII) was conceptualized and developed in the late-1940s, the imagination of the lawn was no longer a socialist dream of the romantic American landscape. By this time the lawn’s utopianisms we reduced to the dreams of developers putting out inexpensive housing and developments suited for the automobile.
3. The development history today's homeowners are a part of is outside their agency. There are people who aren't obsessed with their lawns, they just want to give care to their spaces. I want people to feel good about giving care to their landscape and grounds and not have to face the shaming, labeling, and reduction that some like to place on them as if they are just mindless conformists to The American Lawn Aesthetic. A healthy lawn may surround someone's home because they care for it. Giving care to their space might be what feels good for them.
From Matthew Dore, the "I" voice of Buffalo Horticulture and "The Buff Hort Project."