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Reconsider Your Lawn Today…

Reconsider Your Lawn Today…

I was shocked to learn that my cousins in a suburban community were fined by their homeowners association (HOA) for having clover in their lawn. Doing a little research I discovered this is not unusual; in fact many HOA’s have rules that forbid a wide array of beneficial species including native grasses and wildflowers.

Allow me to be direct: I think the contemporary approach to lawns as instantiated in the dominant practices of our ‘lawncare’ constitutes a crisis. Why? At issue here is much more than lawns—as important as they are. What we call ‘lawns’ can and should be an important part of most homes, and how we treat them is a key expression of how we understand our home and our relation to the natural world.

Home is the place to relate meaningfully to the natural world. Home is where living in a responsible and stewardly way has its main instance. Consider the great possibility that opens before us.

We can treat our lawn as our own ‘steading.’ Whether quite small or relatively large it is place where, recognizing that we humans always live from and on the earth, we receive and cultivate the gift of our own little piece of the earth. This approach bears fruit in multiple concrete manifestations, such as treating the soil as a living thing that we nourish because it nourishes us; landscaping for beauty, productivity, and conservation; avoiding products that poison living things; encouraging wildlife; contemplating the wonders and order of the natural world.

Many of us have been pushed into common practices that are directly contrary to this approach. Walk into the local big box or hardware store this time of year and you are accosted by an array of ‘lawncare’ products that appeal to an understandable desire (e.g., how can I quickly and effectively ‘take care’ of my lawn?) and even scare us into thinking if we don’t use these products we are being irresponsible.

At one yard care website the following leapt out at me: “Dandelions can grow in poor soil conditions and survive periods of drought and can quickly overtake your yard, preventing water and nutrients from reaching your grass and landscaping plants.” The sentence is crafted to make me feel I better get out there and start fighting the enemy before I lose the battle. But who is the real enemy, and what is endgame in this battle?

I certainly recognize that being overrun with dandelions might not be desirable (though in my yard, they never ‘overtake’ it per the website verbiage). According to Austrian herbalist Maria Treben, dandelions are in fact “nature’s greatest healing aid for suffering mankind,” having countless healing properties, especially in spring! What a gift that they can grow in adverse conditions. There are other common ‘weeds’ too—broadleaf plantain and burdock are just two great examples (worth looking up!)—we can study, steward, and profit from. One doesn’t have to be a prepper to recognize that plants such as these could be what saves us in hard times, or heals and strengthens us in normal times… that is, if we haven’t poisoned them and the soil by common lawncare practices.

In the end it’s not most about the plants. It’s most about our self-understanding and our place in God’s amazing natural order. I am convinced that the attitude we take toward our little piece of the earth, expressed especially this time of year in daily lawn practices, has great significance for what kind of person we choose to be and what kind of home we choose to have.

Am I willing to look past convenience, comfort and the accepted norms of our day? Am I ready to take on the challenge of investing a little more thought, energy, and care into something that I have tended to overlook?

If so, I will find that I am not alone; there is a growing number of people seeking to reconnect with their bodies and with the earth, and to start taking better care. Where else to begin but where common sense demands that I start, with a new approach in tending what is mine. Our lawn can be so much more; it can be a real steading—where we live mind-fully, care-fully and joy-fully, together, in this amazing world. ~ ~ ~

Our FIRST PODCAST EPISODE addressed Is Homesteading for Everyone? It will change how you view your home, wherever you are! And, we love comments.

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HERE you can download the AUDIO from wherever you get your podcasts.

Also, Checkout our common sense STEWARDSHIP PLAN for every HOME.

John Cuddeback

Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.

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