Lawns are a middle-class catastrophe and we need to give them up for good.

I'm not talking about your little vege garden - that can stay. I'm talking about the green carpet that can't grow anything or be of any use at all.

It's a hallmark of middle class living, being able to afford wasting so many hours a year mowing a useless piece of grass only for it to grow again while you're away working during the week, so you can ride your lawn mower again on the weekend.


This ridiculous sisyphean effort needs to end.

It's a dumb waste of time and money

I'm not just talking about the number of hours you spend mowing that little patch of greenery for no good reason. How you choose to waste your time is none of my business (I waste mine by browsing different categories of Netflix for two to three hours a night and then not watching anything).

You don't have to admit it to anyone if you don't want to but, deep down, when you think about it, you know your lawn is a silly waste of time and money. You know the return on investment you get from those hours of mowing and weeding and tidying is just too low to justify.

It is hurting your family's social skills, especially your children's

This is going to sound harsh but it needs to be put out there: your lawn is harming your family (and not just because of the pesticides that are risky to your children and pets).

It's hurting your children's ability to develop meaningful friendships and social skills. Think about it. You have this lawn in your backyard, this piece of green-coloured nothingness that you then populate with expensive swing sets and trampolines (look at how much you pay for a thing for your child to jump on) and all this other outdoor furniture.

When your child wants to play outside, you open the door and off they go to their own swingset and their slide and their whatever-else that you paid for. Instead, if you had none of that, you could take them to the local playground, where they'd meet your neighbour's kids. They'd play together, maybe even arrange to meet up the following day. Friendships would grow. Instead, you know you don't go to the playground very often because it'd rend your expensive swing and slide set useless.

This belongs in a public playground, not someone's backyard. Photo / 123rf
This belongs in a public playground, not someone's backyard. Photo / 123rf

And hey, if your child's social skills are not worry, perhaps their health should be?

In the US, a study by the National Cancer Institute once found that children in households that have lawns treated with pesticides have a 6.5 times greater risk of developing leukaemia. If that's not a scary enough statistic to get you to put the pesticides down, I don't know what is.

It's harming the environment

If your lawn is not soaked in a cocktail of chemicals on a regular basis, the weeds take over. So off you go to pollute the Earth in order to keep a pristine green carpet outside your house.

Even if you use only organic fertilisers, the process of lawn mowing itself is harmful to the environment. Lawn mowing releases a large amount of CO2 into the atmosphere.

If I asked a room full of people to raise their hands if they'd never sent lawn clippings to landfills, I probably wouldn't see a single hand.

We can't keep ignoring the fact that our lawns are big contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The hours of maintenance, the pesticides, the water usage... that tiny green pasture of yours is worthless than a piece of s*** because s*** can at least be used as fertiliser for something other than an inedible lawn.

If only you'd let your grass grow, it could be a habitat for some species of crawlies and even some insects. Weeds can be wonderful things for the ecosystem but we're obsessed with spending our weekend using weapons of not-quite-mass biochemical destruction to completely obliterate any good that could come from having a lawn. Bees are disappearing, insects are in grave danger. And yet, you're probably planning on trimming your lawn this weekend. That manicured green carpet gets you as close to nature as the tar on state highway 1.

I'm not arguing some people don't make good use of their lawns. I'm arguing not everyone needs a lawn and, yet, too many of us have them.

By all means keep your gardens, your beautiful trees, your colourful flowers. Grow your vege patch until you can't see the fence for the silverbeet. Those are all wonderful things and we're so blessed to have the space to have them. But it's time to outgrow our useless lawns.

If more people had to use our public green spaces (because they didn't have their own fully-equipped ones), more attention and care would be placed on those too. So let's reclaim our public social spaces as the places to socialise, instead of locking ourselves in our own backyards, away from the world.

Our children would be making friends, we'd be hanging out with our neighbours more, we'd know each other better, the park as the epicentre of the public sphere would be reclaimed and we'd all end up spending a lot less time on Facebook arguing over who's the most wrong.

Today, instead of shouting at people to get off my lawn, I'm shouting at people to get off their own.