Mow, Pilgrim, Mow: a Lawn, by Definition, is Natural

The Jagged Word

By Joel Hess


“Pretty much by definition, a lawn is unnatural” writes Elizabeth Kolbert in her article Turf Wars in the New Yorker, July 2008.

I enjoy cutting my lawn. I enjoy landscaping; carefully arranging plants, flowers, rocks into pleasing patterns.  It deeply satisfies me.

When I was younger and of course more quick to blurt out seemingly brilliant yet later unwise accusations (see sophmorism, also see Calvinism) , I scoffed at the old man tending his lawn.  Why?  Let it grow.  Do not intrude. Fit in to your surroundings like a chameleon , like an animal, like you belong there.  Why ‘arrange’ anything.  Nature needs no help.


Andrew Jackson Downing brought the ‘lawn’ and landscaping into the American mainstream way back in the early 19th century.  He promoted it as an almost moral act of good citizenry.  But today many ‘progressives’ look down on the lawn.  In…

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