Me and my husband have an issue with our lawn attitudes. I want to get rid of the lawn. It is boring, and a water hog, and a weed generator. He loves me, so he humors me. But despite his allergies, he wants the lawn because it is cheaper than turning it into more garden, it is the status quo, and when he plays with the kids outside, they feel constricted by the lack of space. When the uncles come over and try to play a game of pick-up soccer, the space issue is even worse.
If my children were true lovers of the outdoors instead of casual tourists, maybe I would feel differently. Maybe then I would move out into farmland where they could rove through field margins, or, my preference, move into a mountain cabin where they could explore the back woods. But we don’t have that life. We live landlocked in suburbia (but not so removed that a 10 minute drive doesn’t land them right in front of a hiking trail). If they want to go play soccer, they can go to the neighborhood park.
Yes, I keep selfishly chipping away at the turf to expand beds for more garden. In the case of the front, I’ve taken away half of it in one fell swoop this spring. The kids complained. Mean ol’ Mommy is taking away more lawn again. Yet, as I write this, my 4 year old is parked in front of the TV, watching ‘Dinosaur Train’ which is blasting him with an upbeat song telling him to “Get up, go outside, get into nature.” Is he moving anywhere? Nope. Only when I get up, turn off the TV and command him to go outside and play will he go.
Once outside, he will wear holes in the knees of his pants as he scrambles over a low wall of granite boulders. From there, he will likely watch the fish circle in the big water jar. Then, he will go tromping through the back-of-the-border access paths, beheading Narcissus, Hyacinth, Bergenia, Arabis, Hellebore, and countless other spring blooms to put in a plastic bag along with grass tufts and distinctive rocks from the gravel mulch. He’ll sit on a bench examining this bagged microcosm and then use some of it to decorate his fairy house huddled against the boulder under the crabapple, or go dig holes in the sand box and plant them. Before you know it, he’ll have been out there all afternoon. I know this is what would happen because it’s what happened yesterday.
I have seen other mothers kicking their kids outside to a barren yard of grass carpet plus tree and or bush. Usually, they play in their outdoor gym for about 30 minutes, get bored and come back inside and complain about being bored and end up gaming or watching TV.
I do not feel guilty for getting rid of the lawn. There is still a large area covered with it in the back, and it will largely remain intact for the forseeable future. But each year, I will whittle away at it, continually shrinking our suburban island lawn proportionate to my children’s interest in it until one golden day it’s swept away by the sea of what will become our garden paradise.