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Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony, Second Edition [Paperback]

by F. Herbert Bormann, Diana Balmori, Professor Gordon T. Geballe, Lisa Vernegaard
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1, 2001 0300086946 978-0300086942 2 Sub
The authors in this book argue that our dedication to maintaining beautiful lawns is contributing to the serious environmental problems facing the planet and they offer strategies for creating and caring for aesthetically pleasing and ecologically sound lawns. This new edition updates the original text and adds a chapter and illustrations showing what progress has been made in the ecological management of landscapes over the past decade.

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Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony, Second Edition + Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lawns are celebrated in America as a mark of civility and achievement: nature bowing to the well-gloved human hand and the lawn mower. But American fanaticism about the well-kept family turf does not always serve the best interests either of the turf or of the American. A product, in part, of a 1991 Yale graduate seminar, "The American Lawn," this work of scholarship and suggestion seeks to improve our attitudes and our front yards by cutting down on pesticide use, replacing power mowers with the hand-held kind, adopting types of grasses best suited to one's habitat and maybe even allowing a true-blue meadow to develop, clover and all. Lawns are impositions of will, not of nature, and the idea of returning will to nature--or collaborating with it more respectfully than we have--will not appeal to everyone. But the idea is sensible and fair, and this book--also sensible and fair--may, with luck, help to spread it around. Bormann is an emeritus professor of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University; Balmori is a lecturer at Yale; Geballe is assistant dean of the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

As the title indicates, the emphasis here is on shaping a new aesthetic for a new ecological ethic. The idea is not to do away with the lawn but to design and manage it to reduce its present damage to the environment. However, the authors (Yale Univ. Sch. of Forestry and Environmental Studies) also propose two alternatives to the conventional lawn: "freedom lawns," which would allow natural, unrestricted growth of grasses and low-growing herbaceous plants, and total replacement with new landscape designs. Rede signing is wide-ranging, balanced, and imaginative, but, unfortunately, short on practical details on implementation. This is a good buy for academic and larger public libraries, but don't throw away your other lawn-care books. For a popular book on the same topic, see Sara Stein's Noah's Garden, LJ 4/1/93.--Ed.
- Richard Shotwell, MRA Laboratories Inc., North Adams, Mass.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2 Sub edition (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300086946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300086942
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #787,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, an easy & fascinating read April 7, 2003
By A Customer
This book's forté is 2 things: Its' explanation of the negative impact of millions of monoculture, traditional lawns - not on just the environment, but on the lifestyles and wallets of those who tend them. And then it offers sound advice (which does -NOT- start with "get rid of your existing grass") which can be easily followed by the average homeowner. The solutions proposed in this book are not radical, unattractive schemes, and most of the suggestions offered will result in a BETTER LOOKING YARD and savings of time and money. I read it from cover to cover twice. I hope to soon have my yard working for me, instead of me working for my yard.
I found a good compliment to this book in "The Lawn, A History of an American Obsession," by Virginia Scott Jenkins. If you're interested in more of the history and background of the entire lawn concept, (and some neat old pictures of advertising,) you'll love this book. It explains how agriculture, chemical companies, the garden industry, golfing, housing developments, world wars, etc... and the advent of new inventions have come together to result in an entire lifestyle revolving around 'the lawn.' The complete answer to the question, "Why do we have lawns, and what did people used to have around their property?" Read this, then read "Redesigning" to see what having all these lawns does to the world and the people in them, (and, of course, suggestions for improving things in your own little slice of the world.)
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars scholarly - good for critical discussions October 25, 2001
By A Customer
Most Americans do not realize how much their tastes in gardening have been affected by marketing on the part of lawn care companies. Nor do they seem to realize what environmental havoc they wreak through the lawn care practices preached on TV, and promulgated every time they watch the Masters Golf tournament on TV and think they should try to emulate those greens and fairways at home. They have been seduced into an unrealistic world that wastes their time (why mow?), money (why put fertilizer down 4 times a year?) and the environment (Do they really even have the weeds or bugs in their lawn that the 'weed and feed', and 'grub killers' are prescribed for? If not, why are they paying extra for the privilege of putting down toxins they don't even need?)
This book is a scholarly approach to reviewing the problem - highly recommended if you tend to ask "WHY?" before "How much?"
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and informative! February 21, 2002
By A Customer
This is a wonderful resource about a very important environmental problem - the American lawn. The diagrams are especially clear and complete. It provides the history of the lawn, scientific background about the problems associated with the lawn, and also gives very practical advice about how to create a Freedom Lawn. I initially got this book (first edition) from the library, but decided this was one I wanted to have for my personal reference - especially since the second edition includes updated information.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clover is not a weed. October 31, 2007
I have to say that I bought this book on a lark, not expecting much from it. I was wrong. It presents a whole new way to look at the typical suburban lawn, namely mine. I have to admit that I have not yet come to grips with the notion that a dandilion might have a place in my lawn, but I have come to love the sea of white that is a clover lawn in bloom.

The difficulty in that is that my neighbors do not love my clover lawn. Mowed short, my new lawn has still drawn criticism. Next spring, I will begin to add elements of a meadow to my lawn. That should be an adventure with my neighbors.

The book is really interesting. What is does more than anything else is to rewrite what might be possible in even thinking about what "lawn" means. That there is an alternative to a sea of uniform green is wonderful. That adding the usual fertilizer/weed killer chemistry actually takes the life out of my lawn is an eye opener. And that one might be released from being enslaved to a kind of lawn that is utterly foreign to where I live is truly a relief.

The practical steps back to sane lawn work and to a life giving lawn are clear, useful, inspiring, and effective. Take a look at this book. Read it slowly and at least allow the possibility that it offers a better way.
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