Deep Dive: Yard Work
OR: My Abridged Manifesto Against Mankind's Mistreatment of the Planet
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 ever need to do is remove dead branches from the driveway. I have no need for a lawnmower, leaf blower (more on these later), weed whacker, hedge trimmer, edger, spreader, sprayer, seed, mulch, a vast assortment of chemicals, or any other such necessities that homeowners must typically keep on hand. Least of all a garden shed.
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. 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 gas-powered equipment.
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 well and truly hideous in every respect. 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 it and shape it to their distorted, artificial aesthetic preferences. (And don't get me started on those grotesque houses...)
To my eye, there's nothing more appealing than completely unspoiled woodland terrain; the opportunity to watch nature at work year round is nothing short of enthralling. The woods provide the perfect habitat for birds and other wildlife, which are losing ground to senseless, greedy humans by the minute. I've done my best to keep the footprint of my house as small as practical, and I hope that, when it's done, it aesthetically blends into its environment.
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—a minimum of five degrees cooler than developed areas during the summer months.
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 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 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. Making matters worse, one of my neighbors has a giant industrial model mounted to the back of a full-size tractor; the thing literally sounds like an air raid siren when he cranks it up. If it was possible, I'd have them banned in my neighborhood.