Help Save the Hillside Project at JMU: America’s Obsession With Manicured Lawns
Scroll down to see the pictures of James Madison University’s “Hillside Project.” The native prairie is now in full bloom. You can see it from I-81. Some think it looks terrible and want it put back in manicured lawn. Help save this wonderful outdoor classroom by posting your comment at the bottom of this post. You can share it and like on Facebook also by clicking on the icons at the bottom of the post. Go ahead, read on.
What is America’s obsession with a manicured lawn? We plant, fertilize, water, lime, rake and apply pesticides so we can look at it. We use mowers and blowers and irrigation systems to perpetuate this “look”.
I have a relative that spends more time on his lawn than with his family or his job. I think for many it’s an escape from reality. Do they really not have anything better to do than mow grass? And I shake my head every time I ride by a McMansion with five acres of lawn to mow. What a waste of space – we could be growing food there!
I loathe mowing the lawn. I would rather spend my time doing something productive or fun like growing food or flowers or riding my horse. I certainly don’t want to put any fertilizer on it or water it so I have to mow it even more. One of our goals at Meadowview is to get rid of some lawn every year.
According to an article in the “U.S. News and World Report” there are over 40 million acres of lawn in Amercia. Imagine if everyone grew more food in their garden than they had lawn to mow.
Lawns are pretty sterile landscapes. Not much wildlife there. I remember a conversation I had with one of my relatives who lives in one of those golf communities. His house is beside one of the tees. Everything is manicured and the grass has so much nitrogen fertilizer on it that it’s what we call in farming “black green”. He said he had never seen a lightning bug there.
At James Madison University there’s a project going on to enlighten people about utilizing space in a more productive way than just tending to a lawn. It’s called the “Hillside Project”. It does not advocate getting rid of all lawns but it certainly demonstrates that “lawn” space can used in better ways. They took a couple acres of “manicured lawn” landscape and turned it something magical – a native landscape.
They planted native prairie in one section and native trees and shrubs in another. They even took a 1950’s “hard” engineered stream bed and turned it into a natural stream system.
The landscape is now alive with blooms, bees, birds, butterflies, hope, diversity, wonder, opportunity and change. In these pictures you can see Brown Eyed Susans, Bee Balm and Sun Flowers; there’s a lot of other things in there too! It’s a great place for students to learn about natural communities, botany, biology, ecology, pollination, taxonomy, and politics…the list could go on.
Unfortunately a few folks in the administration think it looks unkempt and are taking steps to undo the “native prairie”. It just doesn’t have that “university look.” But isn’t that the point? A university is supposed to EDUCATE and CHALLENGE the status quo for the betterment of humankind. We do not need all those manicured lawns; it wastes space, resources and time. In addition it pollutes the water via fertilizer runoff and pollutes the air from the 40 million lawn mowers and grass blowers.
You can help me save this wonderful outdoor classroom at JMU by posting your comment here on this blog or email it to me. I will forward them to the administration at JMU. You can share this with others too by clicking the icons below.
Your comment might be the one that turns the tide. Thanks for your help.