Marian Carcache: ‘Gardens, Not Lawns’

Marian Carcache: ‘Gardens, Not Lawns’

There would be no oil millionaires if their wealth depended on me. I easily spend more a month on water than I do on gasoline.

 Maybe it’s because I am a homebody that I find so much pleasure in the sights I see along the way when I do go out in the car.

For quite some time, I’ve been fascinated by the “Gardens, Not Lawns” movement, and an outing to the hardware store this weekend only fueled that fire.

My interest started when I realized that all lawn mowers have a vendetta against me.  I’m not sure what I did to offend lawn mowers, but new or old, expensive or not, they simply won’t work for me. 




There is also the issue of land and water. Lawns require both, and if I’m going to dedicate my limited natural and financial resources, as well as my labor, it makes sense to get food and flowers in return.

According to an Environmental Studies professor at Duke University, lawns cover more than 40 million acres of land in the U.S. and consume more than 800 million gallons of fuel every year (Medium.com).  Furthermore, anyone who has tried to eat only fresh natural food knows how cost-prohibitive those foods can be. The logical solution to shrinking resources and rising prices seems to be to turn the land we are using for “manicured” lawns into garden space. 

So this week’s “lovely token” from the universe was that on my hardware store run, I drove by a home whose owner has actually turned his front yard into a beautiful garden of sunflowers, tomatoes, and zinnias. I’m not sure what other vegetables might have been hidden between the back row of gigantic mirasoles, the middle section of healthy tomatoes, and the front row of colorful zinnias. His beautiful yard not only provides food and beauty, but also is a haven for bees, butterflies, and birds.




When the pandemic hit this spring and plants were not as readily available as they had been in past years, I was glad I had saved seeds from last year’s garden. I have also learned to “plant my garbage” — sprouting potatoes, onions, and such — rather than throwing it away. Next year, I am hoping for a front yard garden to make myself a little more self-reliant, and to replace a troublesome lawn and rebellious lawnmower.

Marian Carcache welcomes 

comments at carcamm@auburn.edu.