The Verdant Lawns of England

Like many English gardens, mine has a nice green lawn –  small though it is. I mow it regularly and ensure that it is watered occasionally. I don’t have to water it often as there is enough of the stuff falling from the sky during a British summer to keep it going most of the time.

However, it seems that even the English garden and its lawn are not safe from the all-seeing eye of the watermelons’ tyrannical reach.

The ecological argument against lawns has only compounded their growing unfashionability over the last few decades. Once status symbols found mainly in royal estates and university quads, they became signifiers of suffocating suburban respectability. A survey by the London Wildlife Trust this week found that lawn area in London decreased by 11% between 1998 and 2006, as homeowners replaced grass with garden sheds and paving.

This is a pity. The lawn makes a centerpiece to a garden. Somewhere to sit and admire the colourful borders –  and mine are colourful in a traditonal way with lupins, nasturtium, antirrhinum and gladioli during high summer with tulips and Iris during the spring. I also have a nice collection of fuchsia in post and containers dotted about the garden to complement Mrs L’s geraniums. I have no plans to pave over my lawn.

However, that it is green means that apparently, I am not a patriot. If I was a patriot, I would let it wither and die to a sorry dusty brown in the drought that  er, isn’t sweeping across the country. Also, apparently, my garden should remain wild for the sake of wildlife, so sayeth the bossy despots of the environmental lobby. Now, I do enjoy wildlife in the garden and we do have plants that attract insects. At this very moment our catoneaster is alive with bumble bees, the pond is flourishing with regular visits from toads, frogs, the occasional newt and, of course at this time of the year, tadpoles. You will also see damsel flies and below the surface, whirligig beetles and water fleas. All of this and we still have a nice green mown lawn. Contrary to the green lobby’s exhortations, it is possible to have both a formal garden and a wildlife habitat –  it is not a dichotomy that allows only for either or –  even in a small space such as ours.

And it is true that the environmental case against lawns is unanswerable.

As absurd statements go, this is right up there with third hand smoke kills children or MacDonald’s are guilty of causing obesity, or, perhaps, that risible nonsense about a high salt diet being unhealthy.

Is there nothing that we enjoy that these people will not seek to subvert? No enjoyment that they will not seek to pour scorn upon –  and eventually seek to control, regulate or ban? Is there to be no pleasure in life? Is there no enjoyment safe from the purse-lipped, lemon sucking, life draining puritanical guilt trippers? Who would have thought that the English garden would be a sinful pleasure?

First they came for the smokers, then they came for the drinkers, shortly after, they came for the salt cellar on your table and the sugar in your tea –  now it seems they are coming for the gardeners.

Well, sinful it may be, but after typing this, I’m off to water the seedlings in my greenhouse and do a little dead heading and weeding. I’ve already mown the lawn this morning and I didn’t water it as it rained most of yesterday leaving everything looking fresh, green and inviting.

16 comments for “The Verdant Lawns of England

  1. June 14, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Your message to anyone trying to prevent you having a verdant yard should be delivered a la Eastwood.


    • June 14, 2011 at 8:45 am


    • June 14, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      Shame I don’t have a shotgun…

  2. Rossa
    June 14, 2011 at 8:17 am

    “A survey by the London Wildlife Trust this week found that lawn area in London decreased by 11% between 1998 and 2006, as homeowners replaced grass with garden sheds and paving.”

    Talk about back to front. These green lobby groups can’t tell their a*se from their elbow. It’s far more likely homeowners replaced the green stuff which absorbs the CO2 they want to reduce in the atmosphere and replaced it with a CO2 emitter i.e their car. Parking spaces at a premium, pave over your front garden and voila! And add value to your house…those greedy capitalists again.

    And then there’s the argument that this reduces the ground area that soaks up the rainwater and instead increases the run off into the ancient creaking drainage system which can barely keep up with the drought we’re having.

    So the environmental case is all for lawns, not against.

    And don’t forget those poor worms. When will they appear on the species soon to be extinct list. When will we all be forced to have a lawn just to protect them? And for the record I don’t have a lawn so that’s me done for.

  3. June 14, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Yup, once again, that Law of Unintended Consequences strikes those who reduce on-street parking ‘for the environment!’ and then see front gardens turned into car parks.

    • June 14, 2011 at 9:13 am

      Lawn of Unintended Consequences.

      • David
        June 14, 2011 at 9:58 am


      • June 14, 2011 at 12:09 pm

        Oh, very good… :mrgreen:

      • June 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm


  4. June 14, 2011 at 8:56 am

    “Is there nothing that we enjoy that these people will not seek to subvert?”

    A rhetorical question, I fear?

    • June 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      Indeed. Although I am now beginning to be surprised by the targets. When they started going for the drivers, the smokers, the fatties and the drinkers, I never dreamt they would go for the gardeners, it was so left field.

      • Lord T
        June 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm

        Soon you will be getting rid of your own lawns.

        You will need the space to grow affordable food.

  5. Chuckles
    June 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Lord T,

    No, lawns are what my affordable food eats. I didn’t get to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables, etc etc.

    And according to my Organic Gardening Angel, the only way to make an English Lawn is to level the area, scatter seeds, and roll and water every day for 600 years?

    • Lord T
      June 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm

      All I can say is you must have a big lawn then.

  6. June 14, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    The large numbers of grass hoppers on my rather scruffy lawn would probably object to me getting rid of it.

  7. June 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Yep, I like that:

    [Shotgun raised and cocked] You step on this lawn at your own risk, my friend.

Comments are closed.