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The Source: America's Obsession With Lawns

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Thanks to Leave It To Beaver and The Brady Bunch, golf courses and baseball fields, green lawns are a keystone of the American cultural psyche. Paul Robbins, director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, asks how the US fell so deeply in love with green lawns. In his new book, Lawn People, he explores the impact and toll of that interesting relationship. 

Lawns can be a pride and joy, but do they  control us? Though maintenance can be an unwanted hassle, city ordinances and homeowners' associations make it an enforced duty. Local environments are also being impacted by this beloved tradition. Some regions are undeniably bad hosts for lush grass yards, which can harm neighborhood ecologies and become difficult to maintain with water restrictions. 

Ultimately, each region is different and city restrictions play a large role. However, Robbins says this classic fascination may begin to change. 


  • Paul Robbins, director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin and author of Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are.