American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn, Steinberg Ted (September book )

picture taken 17th if September
6 BUDs were present
Thank you Pat for hosting!

The scribe was so excited that when I got home….I cut my front yard 🙂

The book was awarded a 4.5 smiley face rating. One of the best ever!

just got book from Amazon (22 August 2019)
neat quote: You can’t depend on you judgement when your imagination is out of focus – by Mark Twain

Ohioans are really into lawn mowers
there are obsessive and relaxed styles

growing up the authors Dad loved their yard
dumping beer and urine created America’s Master Gardener (use it responsibly)
the holy land of lawns
Start with Genesis 1:11 “let the earth put out vegetation”

this book will tell us why we like green yards.

Part 1: the origins
Live free and Mow
Quote by Scotts: “beautiful lawns just don’t happen”
Actor Richard Widman, after a mowing accident, asks his doctor “will I ever mow again?”
talk about a person not liking the cities ban on morning mowings
the lawn is one of “our” leading crops
estimate 25 to 40 million acres of “lawns” about the size of Kentucky or Florida

Americans spend $40 billion dollars of their yard yearly
many business for lawn care has emerged
using body fluid against mole’s
lawn care companies declare their work is first aid to the earth

“Between 1994 and 2004 and estimated 75,844 people were injured by lawn mower (about the same as firearms)”
gas powered blowers are not good for the environment
estimated 7 million birds die from pesticides
water usage at golf courses is immense
most people don’t use hearing protection
people like short grass and scattered trees

the lawn is historical
the grass in the African Savanna isn’t green, or short
the lawn goes back to the 16th century
the lawn became place of class and privilege
the first lawn mower was made in 1830

talk of Kentucky bluegrass coming from European forests
it became a native in your national landscape

“The greening of a yard does not happen overnight”
lawns became popular after the Civil War

the lawn mower had 38 patients between 1868-1873
first lawn sprinkler in 1871

Frank J. Scott thought it was unchristian not to have an a neqatly manicured lawn
crab grass was a food crop!
keeping the yard green take 1-2 inches if rain (water) per week
this means water and oil (for fertilizer) the lawn demands with yard machines too
The lawn is high energy
Scotts want weed control 4 times per year
almost 30% of households are do-nothings (half of the 4 times per year)
Lawns and fast food are similar (after WWII)
a nice lawn makes a good frame for a dwelling
having you own plot makes you lord of your manor (even if you have to mow it)

Levitt’s built concrete slabs (2,000) in Norfolk) [outdoor assembly line]
in the 1930s a worm “golden nematode” caused a blight

landscaping took place in the 30’s (neighborhood stabilization)
it was in books that lawn care is good for the value of your home

After world war two Levitt had a “twenty-odd” steps of building a home
comparison of Levitt & Sons to General Motors
after construction came the grass seed
In Levittown was to mow your yard weekly
your visitors have a good idea of you by looking at the care of your yard.
had a yard crew cut a lawn that wasn’t mowed that week
in the 50’s people were group living
“get along by cultivating grass”
rotary mower was patent in 1933
lawns are for show, for personal identity
good lawns=good neighbors
the yard is like a second living room without walls (1963)
Estimate 52 billion blade of grass in Levittown
when Levittown started $10 for outside water
In 1949 there was a water pressure shortage
Meter started in 1953
talk about having a house burn down in relation to the yard

now it was said to pick up your grass clippings
Use fertilizer to keep your yard green
leads to good appearance on the block
thoughts of paving yard with green concrete started in the 60’s
after WWII mortgages were low, the GI ill, and Uncle Sam wanted you to buy a home.
Disneyland helped this GREEN turf all the way to California, plus the population of these cities were increasing
for excavation it was said they bulldozed a thousand trees per day to make lawns
In the 60’s land as found to be to valuable to use for crops
Did the yard become the linchpin of the community
At this time Climate and soil conditions were “brushed” aside
As the decades past the increase of lawn mowers was exponential
The lawn became the sacred cow
Work has gone from 150 hours per year to 1/2 hour each week
The interstate in 1956 create more space for lawns
At this time Sod farms started to pop up
Turf was compared to McDonalds (twenty century)

The Levitts thought it was O to have crab grass, if it was cut short
Abe Levitt declared not to be a slave to your yard, and that the yard should be “covered” for the carpet effect.
people were sending overnight lawns samples for autopsies
people had lawn anxiety
cutting your lawn with hand sissors, and sod on yyour roof

Turf grass is not native to North America
Scott is the HUGE capitalistic winner

After WWII O.M. Scotts had a one man war against weeds
Scott started fertilizer in 1928 (from knowledge of Germans)
Turf Builder was born
in 1928 Scotts had a lawn care magazine
the magazine had it’s do’s and don’ts of lawn care
it had 16 different version for the U.S.still saving the earth passing mowing the yard for the 26th time

lawn led to “the perfect family” thought
maybe the yard is to be admired….but not used!
Scott’s company was Mother Natures helper
in the 50’s the lawn was essential for family living (like leave it the Beaver)
the lawn showed togetherness

Scotts took the family marketing plow
Scotts came up with the 2 4D herbicide kills broadleaf weeds
this was Scott’s 4 X weed contril
Next came weed & feed
2 4-d killed clover
clover attacks bees and self-fertilizes the yard.
hoover ripped up his yard and put down
in the 50’s the quest for a weed-free yard emerged
Clover was good for nitrogen
was crab grass public enemy number 1?
crab grass grow rapidly
crab grass is more abundant than Kentucky bluegrass
j. crab grass on your lawn can lower your status

note: cutting grass short will stunt its; growth
keep grass at 3.5 inches
In 1958 Scotts started Halts for preemergent of crabgrass

Cold war influenced a good clean lawn


Was lawn care a way to take out your frustrations?
Kansel to stomp out clover

Note: after visiting a good neighborhood over half of the lawns reported that nothing was applied to them.

lawn care creates more work for the consumer

chapter 4 the color of money

Astroturf turf came to be in 1966 (Monsanto??)
Ford foundation TO DEVELOP CHEM GRASS – BUT IT COST $$$$$

J. Edgar Hoover ripped up his yard and put down astroturf
it was more of a symbol
AstroTurf is cut neat and clean like a velvet rug
Cyril Funk is a green grass breeder at Rutgers U.
Scotts did not like Funk

Merion grass at the white house: could only stand in in spot for 2 minutes
Funk thought that the country would have better lawns if the country didn’t settle. (talk about sharing a particular climate)
Zoysia grass turns golden in early spring

Article 1954 states that there is no substitute for quality
by 1997 there are 276 varieties of bluegrass
Fertilizer is used to enhance the color???
Comic Alan Shermon thought you shout just “paint” your grass
in 1964 chemicals were sold in 35 states to paint the grass
A bachelor degree in chemistry was need for all the weed killers

some people just put the mower in the back of their truck and started to cash-in!~
people want good yards, they don’t care hw much fertilizer or fungicide they use. (1968)
chemicals went to liquid form in 1968
start of chemlawn
in 1970 chemlawn took in over million dollars
which turned into over 300 million in the 80’s
Southerners seem to neglect their yard the most.
Chemlawn had a no fee guarantee
one year they reseeded many lawns
people wanted good yards instead of having furniture

lawn care was referred to the birth of a baby
customers wanted dark green yards
the lawn doctors used fertilizer and nitrogen to advance growth
dark lawns helped people show off their wealth (p77)
then came du Pont with pesticides and fertilizer
9 out of every 10 acres of cropland were receiving some sort of pesticide
True Green/Chemlawn (merged) and applied nitrogen to the yard
the more nitrogen the faster the yard turns green
then came insecticides
Chemlawn says its solution is harmless
Chemlawn was sued for false advertising
Grass “the handkerchief of the Lord” (p79)
truegreen 3.5 million customers
problem with truegreen and kids in the 2004
Children aneuniquely susceptible to pesticide exposure
P.80 – This service is not necessarly good for nature
leaving grass clippings will help produce nitrogen

could reduce up to 50 percent fertilizer if grass clipping stayed on the yard
referring to the “fast food lawn”

chapter 5
grass at Augusta (golf course) does not grow this way without human intervention.
All people want yards like golfers play on
Augusta has much Bermuda grass which turns brown when the weather cools, thus ryegrass is then spread

playing golf was suitable to a persons yard
with the popularity of golf fertilizer, fungicides and seeds needed
water a golf course was up to 1500 gal/min
blue dye was dumped into Augusta ponds
the speed of the greens started being measured in the 70’s…from the idea in the 30’s. The Stimpmeter was born for the USGA
grass being cut down to 1/8 inch
the lower the grass cut the higher
it hurts photosynthesis
the temp change increased the use of water and fungicide
green speed also limits the nitrogen to the green (starving effect)
Less fertilizer means more herbicides and weeds
Clinton had a real grass green in the white house costing $23,000 and was to be mowed at 3/16th of an inch
putting green backyards became artificial
New grass Poa
this can produce seed cut at a 1/10th of an inch
roundup does not even work
animal like golf courses for “meal”
they are looking for nuts and grubs
then along comes the Canada Geese (open space, grazing animals)
plus golf courses- large latrines
nee habitat change to help control the “flying carp”

chapter 6-Forst Aid for the earth
lawn owners are environmentalist
50ft. by 50ft. yard provides oxygen for a family of 4 (P.107)
grass build s9p108)oil and decreases erosion, and cools the surroundings

Plant sod-it’s good for the earth…better than grass seed
A book listing 26 reasons to support a law like fire retardant, noise buffer…etc (p108)
rarth day april 22 1970
25000 sq feet of yard produces enough oxygen
plant cover (p109)
Americans need to think more about oxygen and photosynthesis
Our plant is not running out of oxygen.
Do lawns come from trhe hardware store like electricity comes from the wall
most seeed come from the pacific northwest
Oregon is the grass seed capital of the world
they would burn the field
smoke build up in Oregan cause a 31 car pile up and seven deaths
could smoke bring on on asthemaa?
more O2 data (p113)
the seed grower are protecting the aquifer.
people buying, trucking in water, even digging their own well
people like the exercise of working their lawn
Over fertilization can lead to excessive nitrates with water (groundwater)
Lawn care pesticides causes issues
for safety the chemicals go under a cost benefit analysis
difference between crop pesticides and lawn pesticides
Inert chemicals might e more toxic than those listed on label.
Pesticide labels are written in a 6 point size
putting iron on the yard to make it green
Ironite contains a highly toxic metal lead. The [resident of the company actually drinks this mixture (twice a week).
When he was drunk it cured his hangover
chapter 7
lawn mower viewed as the poor mans NASCAR
There is a grass cutting ball the first of April
for the race they have to remove the blades
talk of accidents with riding mowers
riding mowers have bad stats
power rotary mowers replaced reel mowers
reel ,mower shear the grass, rotary shreds it
Keep watch of stuff being thrown from the rotary blades

talk about dead man control lot of lost fingers and toes
the start of the C.P.S.I.

about not using motored devices (Fruitarian network)
discussed using the lawn for maintenance

Florida and other state had inmates push mowers

Reported that the immigrant in the 80’s were coming for yard care (cheap labor)
yard workers need to know how to swim

reported that in 2002 they were making $9.50 per hour

some of the immigrants don’t speak English

Then, the zero turn radius mower
this increases productivity

fast mowing is bad for safety0
zero turn mowers on slops are very dangerous
these (riding) mowers are not regulated
in 2002 the leaf blowers emerged
leaf blower 1970’s is from Japan
the noise o the machine makes you want to keep mowing
lawns need to look as pretty as their living rooms
now, there is issues with home offices
leaf blowers are meant to be carried/but no mufflers
runs at 3 times the speed of a car engine(p166)
issues with power and noised
leaf blowers noise is 65 DB test show it’s 98- 196 DB
Government does not regulate noise
For health care noise affect heart to digestion (p168)
this book says 1 to 10 people wears hearing protection
mowers spew out 26 times the co2 than a light weight vehicle (p169)
two stroke blower engine are the dirtiest on earth
by 2000 over 20 cities in California have blowers banned
there are people who want the death penalty for leaf blowers
cities went by the rule of delay and conquer
banning Latino gardeners (about 12,000 a year) they mowed and blowed
had the right to protest to make a living wage.
there even a contest grandma (broom & rake) vs. muscled gardener (blower)
blower banned (racial oppression???) p174
talk of a quieter world
Should gardening be an art p175
police don’t enforce the ban
compared to the LA city streets


A woman came out with a butcher knife to defend the her lawn that the city said was too long

birth of the 6 inch yard rule
fines could be $150
does this go to what you keep in your fridge? year 2001

this thought goes back to the 12th century
rooting out weeds (“a weed is like a tramp”)
discussion of tall grass
allergies come from grass
then came the sprawling gated communities fight against weeds


people were even mowing other peoples yard (years ago), now you have to pay a fee if your yard needs mowing
jail time if your yard exceeds 6 inches
Laws were being passed that made it a need to water/cut grass for those who are poor.
high cost for lawn maintenance
front yard became a class struggle
poorer people would like to spend money on something that will make them stand out…bot their yard
Now, the yard isn’t (or doesn’t) seem that important
getting fined, and having your water running into the streets
This fine came during the worst draught
freshwater supplies are continuing to plummet
Now, people are concerned about having a too green yard
water became expensive in 1990
In Nevada people were receiving money for ripping up their front yard
this watering need led to a plastic yard(s)
Are artificial trees next?

A man being a martyr for breaking the “weed ordinance”
discussed the front yard “cold war”
It’s evil if the yard is so big if a push mower is to small

prediction: by 2035 the lawn chemical smell will be drifting away (Clifton, NJ)

The poor suffer from poor self esteem and social growth
turf still is deeply entrenched on the landscape and psyche
its a civic right and nationalist sentiment
tending long is a national past time
Even talk about the 4th amendment protection
using fertilizer, the talk is to ban it. Even phosphorus create algae
bills to limit the use of fertilizer
people health is more important than the perfect yard
blacktopping is also an issue
the concrete jungle
Scotts wanted time spent with family…not the yard
concern of biotech grass maybe turn into superweeds
pollen from bent grass can migrate 13 miles downwind???
a sustainable yard is bad for Scotts yard business
first thought of the “mighty mower”
the robo-mower does not leave strips
this phase started in the 50’s
the talk of “moral fitness”
need for low maintenance yard care
the thirst for perfection
thought that the lawn is becoming McDonalds for fast food
lawn companies use different approaches per region
Americans is using to much fertilizer
older lawns have latent nitrogen, so for older lawns the j=kess nitrogen is needed (people are putting 20-30% more nitrogen then ihe yar needs
Scott’s even has an organic product line
Should the legislature pass laws about the use of water?
Should congress regulate fertilizer?
lawn care is an art form
for the dust bowl renovated park in New York “keep off the grass”
thus no dogs with their urine
would a perfect lawn have a compulsive personality?
Thomas Jefferson said: ” The greatest service which you can render any country is to add a useful plant to it’s culture
the beginning of zoysia (50’s) grass or miracle grass
it’s a warm season grass
it was a Korean discover
this grass does not green up in the fall
doesn’t grow in shade, and fairs poorly in wet soil

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