One of the strangest revelations I’ve had in this class is that in American culture, the appearance of a front lawn can have a fairly significant impact on how a person is perceived by others and how they in turn perceive the environment. Unlike many other countries, the average American neighborhood is composed of individual houses separated by a good sized yard (usually at least a front yard). Strangely enough, lawn keeping could be seen as a way to indicate the status of ones wealth by appearing neat and well-kept with a spacious grassy area and pleasant landscaping. This implies that whoever own the lawn (and with it the house) must have the time, money, and resources available to maintain such a beautiful looking lawn. Most other countries do not separate their houses/living spaces in this way either because of space limits, necessity, or the fact that having a very unfriendly and unnatural environment in front of your house just seems plain weird.
Yes, lawns are highly unnatural environments in and of themselves, nor are they really “green” as many would come to believe. A neatly mowed lawn was most likely never there when the land was first used to build houses on it. The measures needed to maintain these grassy areas often times involve the use of harmful chemical agents, heavy machinery, and expensive, unnatural landscaping to keep them in pristine condition. The practice of artificial landscaping for American living spaces seems odd to me now that I realize just how out of place these flat, golf course-like spaces are. Along with this, lawns seem to give people the illusion that they have their own environment with the ability to control every aspect of it. This idea is very common in American culture but it is a very misconstrued concept due to the fact that humans simply cannot control the environment they live in (they can influence it, yes, but they cannot control it outright).
In these ways, the idea of having some sort of lawn or yard around a house has made me become aware of just how artificial the illusion of control really is. It’s strange to think about such a simple, every-day matter like this which might be why having lawns seems to be a much less popular idea to other countries.