How to Eat Your Lawn: Transform Your Wasteful Grassy Space into a Food Forest Garden

Author: Sarah Rich

Who ever imagined that lawns would go from epitomizing the American dream to embodying all manner of evil? Blaming both human and natural failings, many homeowners have embraced the idea of lawn-eradication, and the Food Not Lawns movement is growing on a daily basis. Lawns were originally cultivated by wealthy European nobles to show off all the land that they didn’t need for growing food, but in an era of droughts, climate change, and imminent food shortages, such wastefulness isn’t a trophy for the elite; it’s pretty much reprehensible.

Several organizations now exist that help people transform their lawns into edible food forests, and one of those is Edible Estates. This company is the brainchild of Fritz Haeg, who has made it his mission to replace the water-guzzling, pesticide-drenched grasslands of American front yards with functional, fruitful plots filled with all things edible. His philosophy on lawns vs. edible gardens is as follows:

“The lawn devours resources while it pollutes. It is maniacally groomed with mowers and trimmers powered by the 2-stroke motors responsible for much of our greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrocarbons from mowers react with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight to produce ozone. To eradicate invading plants, it is drugged with pesticides which are then washed into our water supply with sprinklers and hoses, dumping our increasingly rare fresh drinking resource down the gutter. Of the 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater and 23 have the ability to leach into groundwater sources.

The lawn divides and isolates us. It is the buffer of anti-social no-man’s-land that we wrap ourselves with, reinforcing the suburban alienation of our sprawling communities. The mono-culture of one plant species covering our neighborhoods from coast to coast celebrates puritanical homogeneity and mindless conformity.”

For those of you who may be interested in growing food instead of grass, there are countless books and websites available to help you on your way. As a couple of examples, the Food Not Lawns book is a great start, and Paradise Lot is an ideal reference guide for those living in urban settings.