Even before the gas-powered mower was invented, the lawn had a long history of challenging the environment. According to Wikipedia, and my own suspicions, lawns are an English invention mostly created to flaunt power and wealth. While originally used as pasteur land, the English monarchy co-opted the lawn in the early 1600s by crafting vast ornamental landscapes that projected their style and class. Unfortunately, they were usually maintained by servants with hand shears.
In these days of water consciousness, the idea of installing a lawn doesn’t have the same cache it used to, unless you collect rain water in a barrel or live in a wet part of the country. Luckily, we fit in to the later category, and our lawn mower is of the push-powered variety. So lawn it is. Thirty feet by 15 ft. to be exact.
The big dig
Today begins the big dig to install a modest plot of lawn in our front yard for the kids to romp and play, and a hard-working vegetable garden from which the Weekndr family will yield a summer bounty of crops.
For years I’ve been concocting ideas for the ultimate landscape solution for our awkward plot of land. It had to be affordable, make use of the material already on our land (dirt, stones, recycled materials), and most of all it had to be well-balanced. For us that means: 1. provide entertainment, 2. be relatively easy to maintain, and 3. produce food.
These days, vegetable gardens are environmentally hot, whereas lawns are environmentally not. One is a tiny ecological miracle that produces ten times more than it takes, the other consumes water in large quantities and provides only fleeting entertainment in return.
To balance our increased environmental footprint I’ve been working the past few weeks to carve out a terraced vegetable garden on the steep, northwest corner of our property. It gets all the daytime sunlight and will make use of a previously thorny area where poison ivy prevailed. This was partly motivated by my latest project at work, www.vegetablegardener.com. But more so because we’ll be able to keep our kitchen stocked with fresh ingredients all summer long.