A Canadian journalist explores why he recently started pulling dandelions out of his lawn:
Well, according to University of Toronto sociologist Brent Berry, I’ve likely knuckled under to the social pressures that come with people living in proximity on modern North American urban landscapes.
“It’s all part of human nature,” says Berry, an American-born associate professor whose research focuses on urban sociology, among other things. “People strive to live in homogeneous communities where they and their neighbours conform to certain standards. Toeing the line is a social control thing (and) it’s fascinating how that manifests itself in regards to confronting nature.”
In other words, I’ve become weed-whipped.
Not that that’s a bad thing, according to Berry.
Lawns, he says, are in some ways public expressions or extensions of who we are as individuals. Messy people are more likely to have a messy yard, while fastidious individuals – especially those who are retired and have both the time and money needed to create and maintain a weed-free lawn – are likely to have, well, you know.
“Every human being likes to have control over their environment,” says Berry. “Lawns are like personal grooming.”
I’ve heard arguments about the status lawns can convey but I’ve never heard it compared to personal grooming…
Another note: it isn’t just the social pressure of neighbors. This social pressure has been enshrined in local ordinances where people can’t have grass above a certain height (say 6 inches) or can’t have certain plants or weeds. Your neighbors may not like your lawn and impose negative sanctions on you (you don’t want to be the one with the lawn full of dandelions) but an increasing number of municipalities will simply come mow your lawn and bill you for it.
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