I hate lawns. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feel of lush turf grass below bare feet, and know first-hand how amazing lawns can be as play areas, for kids and adults alike. It’s just that on paper they’re so wrong—not even native to North America, they take all kinds of wasteful energy to maintain. Don’t believe me? A great recent Freakonomics podcast goes into this issue in depth.
(It’s also the main reason I hate Las Vegas. You drive across a parched desert for hours, where every precious drop of water is worshiped like gold, only to end up in an urban oasis replete with green lawns and fountains—so phony, so wasteful—offensive, really. All the other, more obviously odious elements of Vegas pale in comparison for me. And don’t even get me started on golf courses; a Malcolm Gladwell podcast takes those to task, handily.)
Even Vancouver, BC, where it seems to rain 80% of the year (it’s actually more like 46%), enters technical drought conditions every summer. And yet our irrational obsession with lawns keeps us wasting the (arguably) best drinking water in the world—I’ve heard it referred to as “Chateau Capilano”—on keeping huge swaths of turf from turning brown for a few weeks.
All this is to say I’m a big fan of non-lawn landscaping, or xeriscaping (from the Greek xeros, or dry). There’s a couple of houses I spotted today in East Vancouver (among many, in fact, in a neighbourhood where astroturf and concrete yards are not uncommon) that have carried this non-watering yard mantle well. I must salute them: