Grass. Yes, that’s right we have a piece for you on grass. You walk on it (unless there is an angry sign asking you not to) and you sit on it, picnic on it and it is seemingly everywhere. Americans love their lawns and love their grass but it isn’t every useful. So why do we have so much of it?

The grass isn’t exciting; it doesn’t help local ecology, doesn’t provide habitat, and yet, it is everywhere. It covers football and baseball stadiums. It covers golf courses. It forces houses farther apart and wastes otherwise perfectly usable land for housing or other uses. Grass is everywhere and yet, it’s not terribly useful. It just takes up space, time, and resources. People water it and use chemicals. You have to work on it constantly by trimming it and otherwise maintaining this basically luxury good. The land isn’t even in actual use behind the aesthetic of having grass. However, Americans take their lawns very seriously. It’s amazing how a luxury for the British uppercases has become a ubiquitous part of most American neighborhoods.

Getting people to love and embrace lawns was no easy thing. Once technology like lawnmowers became available, more people were planting lawns to have, enjoy, and use for leisure. The lawn is a big part of the post-war housing expansion. People moved from cities and into the suburbs all to have the coveted lawn — a field of land that just grew grass. In the 20th century, the lawn exploded in popularity and for the past 60 years, many people have dreamed of buying a house in the suburbs so that they too, could enjoy the benefits of lawn ownership.

Now, there’s pushback. Lawns are often now seen as wasteful and apart of the problems with suburban sprawl and the resulting housing crisis that it causes. Ecological concerns are also front and center, especially with the pollution caused by small gasoline machines required to maintain lawns. There is life after lawns and it long past time to tear up these fields of useless grass and put that land to better use, not just for humans, but for all creatures.

In this video, from the New York Times, we learn how Americans learned to embrace the lawn. It’s a fascinating history of how this seemingly standard American practice was really created.