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Lawns now blanket thirty million acres of the United States, but until the late nineteenth century few Americans had any desire for a front lawn, much less access to seeds for growing one. In her comprehensive history of this uniquely American obsession, Virginia Scott Jenkins traces the origin of the front lawn aesthetic, the development of the lawn-care industry, its environmental impact, and modern as well as historic alternatives to lawn mania.
“Virginia Scott Jenkins shows that this uniquely American landscape form is not a native one: indigenous New World grasses were munched into extinction by the colonists’ Old World livestock, and the very concept of the lawn was borrowed from the romantic English parks of Capability Brown and from the French tapis vert. The gradual suburbanization and the shaming tactics of appearance-minded neighbors led America to become completely besotted with grass–and lawn care.”–New Yorker
“Jenkins makes a convincing argument that the military metaphors used by advertisers and lawn care experts alike were part of a male viewpoint that saw nature as something to be ‘controlled and mastered.’ This summer could be much more fun if readers ignore their own lawns and stick to Jenkins’s.”–Publishers Weekly