020 Emily Green on the Mow and Blow Landscape Paradigm

Image: Emily Green, chanceofrain.com

Image: Emily Green, chanceofrain.com

In episode 20 of the Root Simple Podcast Kelly and I discuss the mow and blow landscape paradigm with writer and avid gardener Emily Green. During the discussion Emily also talks about the politics of lawn culture and the unholy alliance of politicians, the real estate industry and landscape maintenance tool manufacturers.

Emily has written for many newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and the Independent. She blogs at Chance of Rain.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times in 2011 Emily says,

What would you do if a neighbor came to you and asked, “For 20 minutes every week, may I turn on your vacuum cleaner, smoke detector and garbage disposal and run them all at once?”

Holding that thought, consider if the neighbor added, “Ah, may I also blow noxious dust your way for those same 20 minutes?”

Imagine that not just one neighbor on the street asked it, but eight. Imagine that each one just wanted their 20 minutes to blare noise and blow dust. It would be sometime between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Add up the minutes and they would equal about six straight days of noise a year. The dust would stay suspended longer, an element of smog.

Given the choice, most people would say “no” in terms unrepeatable here, so most Angelenos don’t ask for permission. They just blast noise and blow dust at their neighbors. They call it gardening.

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  1. thanks for that link–appalling indeed! we seriously need to rethink our landscaping paradigm here in the southland.

  2. I have to say, the gardening culture in Los Angeles is a bit of a minority, especially when compared to living in Portland where big nursery events and plant sales about come Spring and are as jam-packed as food truck or Unique L.A. events. I couldn’t believe I had to wait in a line half an hour before a plant sale opened this year with a hundred people ahead of me. I think also because of the shorter growing season, there is much more of an appreciation for landscaping and gardening. Because of this, many more homeowners like to care for their landscaping themselves here, though there are still the annoying leaf blowing crews (particularly around my townhouse complex, where I would gladly hand prune and rake everything if they didn’t have a HoA do that for me with their more intrusive equipment). I am wondering if the garden services will tone down in the winter time, since all we’re going to get is rain, and the lawn is muddy enough. 😛 But I digress. If people don’t have an interest in what’s in their front yard, I think it’s hard to convince them not to just hire someone for $60 a month to keep their slab of lawn looking like everyone else’s.

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