Growing up in Midwest America, I was part of a typical middle-class family. We had the typical middle-class house, which came with a typical lawn. And every couple of weeks, when the grass started getting long enough for the blades to bend over, my dad sent me out to rev up the motor.
Mowing the lawn wasn’t too bad of a chore; it got me out of the house and walking, and a pair of earbuds under some noise-canceling headphones neutralized the whine of the gas mower. There was also a satisfying feeling to drawing nice, neat lines across the expanse of even, uniform grass.
These days, the lawn is still viewed as a status symbol — but as we think more about ecology, the environment, and our impact on the world, we should stop seeing a big, even lawn as a positive.
Our lawn is a prime example of our society’s obsession with monocultures — and that’s something we should stop praising.
Oh, We Love Our Monocultures
Humanity has consistently been a fan of monocultures. Perhaps we see them as “oddly satisfying.”
A monoculture is any environment where there is only main organism in the area. Usually, it refers to some environment where only a single species of plant is growing.
- The fields where we grow our crops? Monocultures.
- A massive farming complex where we raise chickens or pigs? Monoculture.
- A managed forest for growing wood, or bamboo? Monoculture.
- When we clear-cut the rainforest to grow palm trees for palm oil? Creating a monoculture.
And when we plant a single species of grass to cover our yard with verdant green, we’re creating a monoculture.
Perhaps we like monocultures because they seem simpler to maintain. Instead of trying to juggle multiple species, we can reduce our focus to only one. It means less mental effort, and we feel more like the master of our domain by simplifying and reducing it.
At its essence, a monoculture shows man’s mastery over the environment. We reduce chaos down to a simple, enjoyable order.