Summer 2005

Wisconsin's Water Library

The History of the American Lawn

The idea of the “perfect” lawn may be changing from one that is weed-free to one that is free of chemicals and pesticides. To learn more about the history of the American lawn and environmentally friendly alternatives, view our reading list. Any Wisconsin resident can check out books for free. Some available books are:

The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession. Virginia Scott Jenkins. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994.

This absorbing chronicle of what many consider to be 20th century America’s greatest folly—the lawn—is also a wake-up call for readers to stop worrying about the Joneses and start focusing on the state of the environment.

Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony. 2nd ed. F. Herbert Bormann, Diana Balmori and Gordon T. Geballe. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Extremely readable, this book offers strategies for designing and managing lawns to reduce their damage to the environment as well as suggesting alternatives to the conventional lawn.

Rodale Organic Gardening Basics, Vol. 1: Lawns. Emmaus, Penn.: Rodale Press, 2000.

The editors of Rodale’s Organic Gardening have packed this easily read guidebook with helpful information about creating and maintaining a lush lawn without chemicals.

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