Every man’s home is his castle and every man’s lawn is his bowling green/golf course/football pitch/nemesis (depending on your choice of sport, or lack of it). By now many gardens up and down the country will be buzzing to the desperate sound of lawn mowers and cursing of lawn mower owners as they drag an ageing rusty, blunt contraption out from the back of the shed where its chief role over the winter period has been to gather dust and an interesting spider collection.
For those that have the pleasure of a petrol mower comes the additional nice surprise of finding a fuel spillage to rival the Torrey Canyon disaster, and the touch and go stuntman operation of mixing and spilling a combination of various highly volatile substances over your shoes.
A fact of life is that however much you choose to ignore it the grass has to be cut, many people now will be faced with the ankle high grass growing in their gardens which due to the recent downpours, and lack of cutting opportunities, is rapidly getting out of control. The excuse of ‘it’s a wildlife garden’ is no defence for laziness, or claiming it’s a sanctuary for slowworms, which are much happier hiding under your paving or in the compost bin.
And anyway what do you do with the weed-ridden cuttings? Generally they are left to fester in a far corner of the garden to be dug over several years later to reveal a dry silver mass of ballistic resistant material in the middle.
So who can we blame for this? And what use is a lawn?
Well for starters you can blame the weather and our position in the northern hemisphere, just right for a bit of grass growing. Mild winters, warm summers (mostly) and generally a respectable amount of rainfall (2012 excluded).
Then there are kids. Grass is great for running about in and doesn’t cause falls requiring trips to A&E, and you can stage your own picnic or lido in the comfort of your own back garden. You will also be able to admire and remember the happy times by the dying sun-starved bit of grass looking forlorn at the end of the day when you remove the picnic blanket or paddling pool filled with dead flies. But the space you have is never big enough and the ball will at some point end up lost in the next door neighbour’s garden anyway.
So, sunbathing. Patios are good for that too and you don’t end up with a wonky sun lounger.
For aesthetics, go on be honest, are you really proud of your lawn? Or can you come to love the moss covered, patchy weed ridden green (& brown) bit of little England in your garden. And let’s face it, what is the point of a front lawn, unless you are an exhibitionist, or like to park your car in mud.
Not to mention their raging thirst for water.
So why do we have this obsession and love-hate relationship with the lawn? Well you can blame the aristocrats of the 17th century when the lawn was seen as a status symbol, and due to the necessity of having to cut it required you to employ a sizeable workforce. Or more to the point have the means to of paying someone else to do the dirty work for you.
But, the real culprit is a Mr Edwin Beard Budding who on August 31 1830 patented the first lawn mower and opened up the tidal wave for lawns everywhere regardless of social standing. Shortly after this the first ‘Ye Olde B&Q Superstore’ was opened and a new rush on Sunday trading began.
So it is time to face facts: the lawn is just a hangover from a bygone age and an outdated status symbol which has become a Sisyphean task to keep under control, and which has sounded the death knell for peaceful Sundays everywhere.
Is it time to liberate the shed and do away with the lawn mower and free your garden from this albatross. Can plastic grass really be the way ahead?
But then again you can’t beat lying back and watching the clouds with a drink in your hand, with the smell of a freshly cut lawn drifting on the breeze. You don’t get that with a patio.