America's Obsession With That Green Patch In The Yard

An environmental historian ponders the cultural significance of the lawn in suburban America.

"Steinberg finds in each of our lawns (and his own), a view into the soul of something particularly American. His careful study of this pseudo-nature that covers 40 million acres of the United States makes American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn an insightful read for suburbanites who face the start of a season of mowing. Additionally, though, Steinberg's sense of humor makes "American Green" an enjoyable read even for apartment dwellers and lawn-o-phobes. His insight turns this book into a fascinating window on some of the deeper meanings of this most peculiar portion of Americans' ongoing relationship with nature.

...When read through this cultural lens, lawns become an instrument of planned homogeneity. As Americans sought to fit in with one another during the cold war, writes Steinberg, "...what better way to conform than to make your front yard look precisely like Mr. Smith's next door?"

...In his story of the lawn, the social and ecological factors often worked in coordination. Perfection became a commodity of post-World War II prefabricated housing such as Levittown, N. Y., in the late 1940s. Mowing became a priority of the bylaws of such communities."

Full Story: America's obsession with that green patch in the yard

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