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No time for greener grass

Agriculture.com Staff 05/25/2006 @ 12:26pm

On the way home from town the other day, I drove by a woman who was fertilizing her lawn.

What a wacko.

It's the middle of May. The grass is growing about six inches an hour, and I'm working twelve hours a day just keeping a path cleared to the garage. Every night I pray that all the grass will die before morning comes.

And yet, there she was, fertilizing away, trying to make the grass grow faster. I'm not getting it.

I think it's the fault of the British.

Okay, I admit I may be harboring a grudge since the flood of hate mail from the United Kingdom has just started to subside, all because I thought it was a little . . . odd . . . that they stick mashed peas to the back of their forks. But leaving all that aside, if we're talking lawns, the British are the team to beat. Really. Afghanistan, Spain, Peru -- they're just not in the game. And that's because in Great Britain it's cool, cloudy and rains every half hour. Plus, of course, there's the wacko factor.

Here's the deal. Lawns didn't start out as lawns. They were called pastures, and they were used to feed sheep.

There, now doesn't that seem to make more sense?

In all fairness, I'm not certain the British saw this coming, either. A couple of hundred years ago, the British Isles were full of sheep, happily munching away, keeping the lawns, er, pastures gnawed down, while a few scythe-wielding peasants tidied up the stuff right in front of the castle.

Americans who could afford to travel to Europe checked it out and thought it looked swell. We started to raise some grass of our own, but there was a problem. Our rich people didn't like sheep in front of their houses, and we didn't have nearly enough peasants with scythes. During World War I, President Wilson got a herd of sheep to graze on the White House lawn, just to set example for the rest of the country, but Presidents Washington and Jefferson had done the same thing years before.

America, leading the way.

So far, we were okay. A few rich people had lawns and the rest had a chunk of dirt in front of the house with a few chickens and a couple geraniums. Life was good.

But then a British guy, (once again, ruining my life) an engineer named Edwin Budding, invented the lawn mower. That made it possible for people to have lovely green grass lawns even without access to sheep or peasants. Shortly after that came fertilizer and garden hoses, and now Americans spend $17 billion a year on lawn improvements. And none of us have any spare time.

You know, the British did give us Shakespeare, the Beatles and miniskirts, but they can't expect to skate forever on the achievements of the distant past. And, when you consider mushy peas and lawns, as far as I'm concerned, they're skating on thin ice.

Copyright 2006 Brent Olson

On the way home from town the other day, I drove by a woman who was fertilizing her lawn.

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