LETTER – HOW SMART ARE WE REALLY…WHEN IT COMES TO TAKING CARE OF OUR LAWNS?

The people in this area are pretty well educated with enough fancy college degrees to keep a small university afloat. Many of them pursue a healthy, organic life, engage in all forms of exercise, monitor their cholesterol levels and their daily fiber intake, serving wholesome raw-vegetable platters at every party, and belittling all the foods that contain chemical additives.
They also take special care of their children, providing them with the best health care, making sure their teeth are perfectly straight and their psyches pampered. So many of the children are usually Above Average to Gifted and Talented and the test results demonstrate it.
The people in this area are steadfast in their support of groups that save whales and seal pups, and talk knowledgeably and with concern about the vanishing wilderness, air and water pollution, and the greenhouse effect that may cook us all.
But even though they are knowledgeable and concerned about the earth’s fragile ecosystem, many of the people in my town do a strange thing. It seems that lush, green, beautiful lawns are extremely important to them. Their beautiful lawns are a monument of perfection, obtained by choking every square inch of ground around their houses with chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides designed to wipe out all living organisms except lush blades of emerald-green grass.
So eager to have astroturf-type lawns, they hire lawn care experts, who diagnose what lawns need, prescribe remedies, and at various intervals during the year, saturate their lawns with chemicals bearing all too many unpleasant-sounding names. The so-called lawn experts irritably assure the people that their chemical products are harmless to man and the environment. That’s what they used to say about DDT, chlordane, chlorofluorocarbons, and many other poisons whose horrid effects we have only begun to understand.
You know there used to be a time when there were no lawn experts. When all lawns came up green in the spring, turned brown in the heat of high summer, and came up green again in the Fall. It was a time when folks subscribed to a freewheeling policy of lawn care management, pretty much letting anything grow. When the wildflowers began to appear, you know the dandelions, chickweed, clover, etc., there was one simple rule: just mow the lawn. But be sure not to cut it too low June through August.
I ask myself this question all too often: What made everyone decide to tamper with that old, happy process and replace their lawns with a sea of chemicals?
What is a perfect lawn?