CONNECTICUT COLLEGE'S SALT INITIATIVE IS ENCOURAGING AMERICA TO ABANDON THE TOXIC, ENERGY-CONSUMING LAWN
It had a good run. However, like polyester and SUVs, the American lawn is becoming passe for some. Smooth, trim and pristinely manicured, large expanses of grass are tough for environmentalists to love—either aesthetically or environmentally. Not only are they costly to maintain, but they also smack of spent petrodollars and excessive use of pesticides and water.
It was more than a century ago that the English obsession for lawns took root in America. Although it proved to be a high-maintenance indulgence in America's drier climate, the well-groomed lawn gave homeowners a feeling of mastery over the landscape—the kind of satisfaction men enjoy after shaving in the morning and women have after a trip to the hairdresser: "I'm groomed and I look good."
The thing is, America has matured. To many, that manicured turf-toupee looks, well, "retro." Just as trees grow and their shade shifts, plantings need to evolve, too. A simple lawn might hold interest for a short time, but a growing number of today's homeowners are looking to the outdoors to express a more personal style.
To counteract what it calls America's "lawn mania," a decade ago Connecticut College in New London founded a now-thriving movement called SALT, or Smaller American Lawns Today.