FROM THE EDITOR
My neighbors say nothing about the hip-high fleabane in our yard because they can’t see it. The gravel driveway dips from the road, and the shagbark hickories and brambles that surround our house help to camouflage the oasis of wildflowers that the family next door might consider unsightly weeds.
My husband, son and I live on several acres in a rural subdivision. Unlike our neighbors’ lots, our property is mostly wooded. I prefer the meadow look to a well-manicured lawn. But every two weeks, I break out the push mower and cut the strip of grass along the road as a courtesy to my neighbors, many of who mow their two- and three-acre lots half a dozen times in the same period.
I love my neighbors. We are simply conscientious in different ways. They are dutiful to a suburbanized aesthetic; I am ruled by frugality. I let the grassy areas grow wild not only because I love the look of clover and chicory, but also because I loathe the purchase of fuel and oil required to power our mower. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans use 580 million gallons of gasoline per year in lawn mowers alone. That doesn’t include fuel consumed by commercial and residential lawn care services.
As a fiscal conservative, I was happy to hear that the Commonwealth of Kentucky is like-minded when it comes to cutting grass. In May, the Finance and Administration Cabinet announced it will save $80,000 by reducing the amount of mowing that takes place around four state government buildings this summer. Mowing will be reduced in acreage and by frequency on the grounds of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives building, the Central Laboratory Facility, Berry Mansion and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services complex. The areas near buildings, parking lots and sidewalks will still be mowed weekly, but other areas will only be mowed seasonally.
This is not only a savings of taxpayer dollars, it’s also a reduction in our carbon footprint. And because the taller grass absorbs more carbon dioxide, it will create a more environmentally friendly habitat.
Could every state in the country follow this lead? Imagine the tax money saved for a single summer—I estimate at least $4 million.
Could we all park our mowers a little longer? Could we forget those edgers and weed eaters for a season, and for once welcome the goldenrod and crown vetch? That’s an appealing idea: keeping the green in our pockets as well as our yards.
In fact, I hope Kentucky will start a trend, beginning in Frankfort and spreading to every lawn across the nation. I dream of meadows. I dream of leaving that stretch of grass growing by the road. I can picture the wildflowers abloom there, and I can almost see my neighbors smiling at the change.