The Serious Lawn

Three Hills, Alberta, Friday, June 2, 2017. Credit: Cecilia Wessels

Do we take lawn care too seriously? Whether we are wasting water on Kentucky bluegrass in the great American southwest, or soaking tonnes of weedkiller and insecticide into pleasant little villages across the continent, much of our obsession is just wrong. (And I’m not saying this simply to justify my own half-wild, unkempt backyard.)  Considering the harm we’re doing to ourselves, our neighbouring ecology, and our bees, what good comes from that perfect lawn?  Even the aesthetics are sometimes questionable. (I’ll refrain from venting about golf courses for the moment.)

On the other hand, I tip my hat to the homeowner in the photo above. He keeps a neat yard a bit north of me, up in the town of Three Hills, Alberta.  Theunis Wessels’s wife snapped this sensational picture of him finishing up lawn work while a tornado descended.  There’s much to admire in that unflappable Canadian demeanor and sense of duty. Well done, neighbour.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Ecology, Strange, Odd Stuff and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Serious Lawn

  1. I am struck by the strong divisional line between untamed nature beyond his stockade, with its manifestation of fury and power, and the patch of “civilization” so often cultivated by those pretending Nature is tamed by humans! The photo does not show any particular image of support for his needs—vegetable garden, etc—but just the grass and a couple indiscriminately placed shrubs. This patch will support very little of the denizens of the natural world.


    • Ron Miksha says:

      Although I largely agree with your comments about our efforts to tame the wild, let’s please not condemn this one person. He very likely has a huge vegetable garden around the corner, out of the picture. (Almost every rural Canadian does.) I see him as a typical Canadian hero, taking care of the grass that’s more or less natural here, mowing despite the tornado on the horizon. He actually must cut grass because in his area, the native grasses often turn brown in July and August and grass fires become common. Keeping a mowed green patch around a house is essential.
      My own comments about green lawns in the deserts and indiscriminate chemical applications everywhere remain true, however.


  2. Pingback: The Serious Lawn | How To Raise Bees

  3. Peter Murless says:



  4. Pingback: The Serious Lawn | Raising Honey Bees

  5. Emily Scott says:

    Hilarious! A Canadian carries on no matter what.

    I am unhappy with my parents because they paid a company to treat their lawn so that it no longer contains daisies and dandelions. Sigh.


  6. Erik says:

    I am a big fan of a “pollinator friendly” lawn. Mow the grass high and let the weeds proliferate. I’ve read that we have 40+ million acres of lawn in the U.S. alone, a desert for the many bees and butterflies out there trying to find food.

    As to the picture, there is a fine line between crazy and heroic.


  7. Ashley says:

    Thank you! My neighbors probably hate me, but I think that a perfectly green lawn with no clovers or dandelions is quite boring. I let the spiderwort grow until the last of the blooms are gone and then I mow it so that the seeds spread. It’s tripled it’s footprint in 5 years and the bees go crazy for it every morning in spring. I let my kid blow the dandelion puffs and ignore the business cards left by the lawncare services. I’ve been debating having my yard certified as a backyard habitat.

    Liked by 1 person

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