Driving down the street you will see lot after lot sporting a gorgeous green lawn - in the middle of summer. Maybe you'll even get to see the majestic sprinkler system rise from the ground and start over watering a lawn at mid-day in 100 degree heat. This is not unusual in the United States and plenty of other countries, but how has this become the norm? The land that is now used as residential suburbs used to be forests and farms and played a practical role in the environment. However, these green patches of lawn are just a facade to belonging to nature. They provide nothing truly beneficial to the homeowner besides curb appeal. Sometimes not even that, if you look at Arizona - their creative rock and cactus designs are much more appealing than a strip of fake green grass.
I am not just here to complain about the problems that we face, but instead to provide creative solutions. How about instead of having a front and a back lawn, you limit yourself to just one? If its necessary in your neighborhood to have a useless green patch in the front; why not design something amazing in the back? From flowers to vegetables to trees, anything would be a welcome addition.
Flowers are beneficial because it gives birds and bees and other insects food to eat. If you live in an area with butterflies or honeybees this could even be helping grow their population and thus saving the world from losing their main pollinators.
Vegetables are much more practical than flowers as you can do much more than just look at them. You can create garden fresh meals for many seasons on end if you take the time to cultivate a small garden. The beauty is that you can plant whatever you'd like, and if you really want to stay small - go for a herb garden that you can keep in a small planter outside before you decide to rip out your lawn entirely.
Lastly, trees are a final solution as it gives a natural habitat to other animals and it can shade your house from the sun instead of just letting the air conditioner do all the work. Depending on your area you could have bird-nests, places for deer and foxes to hide, rabbit holes, and masses of squirrels and raccoons all living in a habitat your trees provide. If you're worried about critters getting into your trash either secure it, or focus on one or two of the previous ideas I have suggested.
There are of course other ways to benefit the environment rather than just creating a garden, but its a small step that will actually add value to your back yard. Practicality doesn't mean it can't be beautiful, and I'm convinced it would be a welcome addition over boring grass.
What do you think about the trend of putting in lawns at every house down the block?