Environmentally conscious gardeners (including myself) have long called for the elimination of lawns. I remember as a student of horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden nearly 50 years ago hoping that American lawns would be replaced by another type of landscape treatment less dependent on toxic chemicals and less greedy in water and polluting fertilizers. More recently, I have come to regret that lawns provide so little benefit to wildlife.
Despite all this, the area of lawns in the United States has continued to expand. I’ve come to accept that there are reasons Americans are so loyal to turf. As a ground cover, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to install. It is also relatively simple (although laborious) to maintain, so this work can be contracted out to affordable unskilled labor. Additionally, turf is more tolerant of foot traffic than almost any other type of planting, making it an ideal space for children.