Warning: I'm bluntly honest here—even downright insulting—so if you genuinely enjoy suburban life, back out now.
One of the many perks of living on property such as mine is the yard work—or virtual lack thereof. Consider: about the most I have to do is remove dead branches from the driveway. I have no need for a lawnmower, leaf blower (more on this one later), weed whacker, hedge trimmer, edger, spreader, sprayer, seed, mulch, a vast assortment of chemicals, or any other such necessities that typical homeowners are compelled to keep on hand. Least of all a garden shed (ugh!).
But my disdain for "traditional" yard work is by no means born out of laziness; it arises instead from an understanding that "traditional" lawns are ecologically evil, especially those that are treated with chemicals. Deadly weed killers, fertilizers, insecticides and other products create "dead zones" where the only living things that survive are a few species of grass. Vitally beneficial insects, worms and other life forms are all eradicated— including millions of birds every year—while the poisons spread to untreated areas, collect in water supplies, and eventually come full-circle back to us. Not to mention the alarming amount of pollution produced by unregulated gas-powered equipment (it's been estimated that just an hour of yardwork produces more hydrocarbon emissions than a 3,000-mile drive in a pickup truck).
People create these ecologically hostile environments all in the name of obsessive beautification, exacerbated by intense, irrational Jonesing. But what is beautiful? To me, those immaculately manicured lawns are hideous on multiple levels. Never mind that they're about as visually appealing as a green plastic door mat; they stand as nauseating reminders of humans' contempt for nature as they make every attempt to control and shape it to their distorted, artificial aesthetic preferences. It's truly disgusting.
To my eye, there's nothing more appealing than completely unspoiled woodlands; the opportunity to watch nature at work year-round is nothing short of enthralling. Trees provide the perfect habitat for birds and other wildlife, which are losing ground to senseless, greedy humans literally by the minute. Even the EPA is siding with big chemical industries, and against humans and the environment. No wonder the planet is in serious jeopardy.
I've done my best to keep the footprint of my house as small as practical, and my impact on the rest of the land at zero. For instance, I spent quite a bit of time, money and effort making sure I didn't need to clear any trees in order to get electric service; I also designed my own septic system so that nothing had to be cut down.
My lack of lawn is not only a benefit to the environment, but to my wallet as well. I have no equipment, fuel, chemicals or other products to purchase (or lawn service to hire, if I were so inclined). Plus, the woods keep the house—and indeed the whole property—at least five degrees cooler than developed areas during the summer months, thanks both to shade and water evaporation from the trees.
And now, a word or two about gardening—or, in my case, naturalization. Well-planned natural gardens offer many benefits besides beauty: they attract pollinating insects, birds and other wildlife, and create their own mini-ecosystems over time. Best of all, they require little or no effort to maintain. I'm looking forward to the house being done so I can get to work on the landscaping; I have over a dozen books on the subject, and I hope one day to have beautiful, natural gardens such as this:
About Leaf Blowers
Many of my visitors have exclaimed how they found it hard to believe they're in central New Jersey. I feel the same way... except when someone fires up a leaf blower. With their inescapable noise pollution, these insanely infuriating machines instantly and completely destroy everyone's peace and quiet as they drone on for hours. If it were possible, I'd have them banned in my neighborhood, and I'd be more than happy to purchase a rake for anyone affected; I'd even provide instructions for their use, as I'm sure it's a lost art to most people. Heaven forbid someone actually gets off their ass and does some work...
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