Seth Brown: A kick in the grass | Columnists

I am a plant killer.

That’s what I tell people when they offer me a houseplant, to differentiate myself from people who have green thumbs and have a natural affinity for making things grow. Plants left in my care, even if they only need watering once a week, tend to wilt and die. I am a murderer and my weapon is negligence. It’s also a reason why I don’t have any animals or children.

Despite this, however, the plants in my lawn manage to thrive and grow wild. Which suits me; I don’t need a well-trimmed lawn because no sporting events are played there. Besides walking through it to get to the mailbox, my primary interaction with my lawn is looking at it. And a wilder lawn with varied growth is more interesting to look at than a flat, green carpet.

Given this predisposition on my part, I was quite happy to hear about No Mow May. Not only does this help pollinators at a time when bee populations have plummeted over the past few years, but it’s also given me an excuse not to mow my lawn and feel like I’m part of a movement respectable. (Usually I am disrespectful and sedentary.)

No Mow May is awesome. Heck, I’d even be happy to follow it up with Just Let It Grow June and Jungle In Front Of The House July, but my partner feels differently. She also doesn’t spend much time sitting in the grass rather than watching it, but still prefers the lawn to be mowed once in a while because it “looks prettier” and “gets too overgrown” and apparently “We don’t want the neighbors to think the house is abandoned.”

Like many problems and plants, this is rooted in something on a more basic level. And that’s it: lawns are stupid. They involve a lot of effort to grow a plant of dubious utility (grass) that does not even look terribly interesting. Lawns waste valuable water that could be drunk, valuable land that could be used to grow food to eat, and valuable pesticides that could be used on your food instead. Granted, I don’t use pesticides or water my lawn, but it still takes up space.

A friend of mine suggested to me that since I don’t like lawns and they are stupid to begin with, I should just replace my lawn with shrubs or a garden. It is objectively a good idea. Shrubs provide a lot more shade than grass, unless you accidentally shrunk to the size of an ant, in which case I’m sorry I stepped on you and put some formic acid on my sandal. (Do you know why it’s called formic acid? Because the name antacid has already been taken.)

And gardens provide food, one of a dwindling number of good things in an increasingly miserable world. Clearly, replacing a silly lawn with shade and food would be a good idea. Unfortunately, like most good ideas, it would take some work. And given my disinterest in mowing the lawn once a month, it seems unlikely that I would be willing to put in the effort necessary to maintain a garden. Not to mention the effort of acquiring a grove, which in my opinion can often involve perilous quests and saying “Ni!” to old women like a common hoodlum.

So, while it is true that gardens would be much more useful in the long run, inertia may be responsible for the running of the lawn. So even if that means doing a little lawn maintenance every now and then and then getting a little mower, it’s still easier than reconfiguring my front yard into something else. Which means that in the end, even if I just stare at it, my lawn will probably stick around for the same reason people who actually spend time on it do:

I prefer to sit on my grass.

Seth Brown is an award-winning humor writer and the author of “The Disapproval Of My Toaster”, and is glad that no living thing depends on him for survival. His website is

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