635: American Green by Ted Steinberg

by Gerard

635.9647: Steinberg, Ted. American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. 230 pp. ISBN 0-393-06084-5.

Dewey Construction:

  • 600: Applied Sciences (Technology)
  • 630: Agriculture and related technologies
  • 635: Garden crops (horticulture); vegetables
  • 635.9: Flowers and ornamental plants
  • 635.96: Groupings by special areas and purposes
  • 635.964: Ground cover
  • 635.9647: Lawns

On any given weekend, millions of homeowners trudge out to their garages, pull out their lawnmowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, spreaders, insecticides, fungicides, and various lawn chemicals. They tote their gas-guzzling power mowers out onto their lawns to insure their greenery is just as beautiful as their neighbor’s. And as bleak as all this seems, we keep doing it, week after week, just to make sure America stays green.

Ted Steinberg’s American Green details the history of the lawn in the United States. From the first mass suburbs in Leavittown, New York to the modern golf course, Steinberg writes about how the lawn has been imprinted on our consciousness as an extension of the American dream.

But, he is not completely in love with the idea of a perfect lawn. Most of the arguments in the book set out to disprove 80 years of lawn history. And with good science to back him up to boot. Many of the steps we take to ensure that our lawns have a luscious green veneer actually serve to destroy the soil, poison waterfowl, and injure our citizens. Unfortunately, the arguments laid out in this volume are not balanced, but it will shake you out of your standard thinking.

I’d like to think that I could be as valiant as some of the lawn revolutionaries in this book, but if we employed just a few of the ideas here, then I think we might be able break free from some our landscape drudgery.