The American Lawn

The American Lawn is an attempt by Georges Teyssot to describe the suburbanization of America through the development of the American lawn. In this article, Teyssot goes in depth about the history, origins, and evolution of lawns. In doing this, he mentions several important ideas. First is the aspect of the lawn as a public or private entity. If a lawn is public, then it should be in a state that is acceptable by society. Some believe that this requires the lawn to be kept under reasonable human supervision through mowing, trimming, and etc; others however, support the idea of leaving nature as it is, stating that nature should not be tailored to satisfy humans. The second big idea that Teyssot brings up is the aspect of human beauty and lawn beauty. The correlation between keeping a lawn “perfect” and keeping a perfect body is “an ideal difficult to attain.” It is indeed true that keeping a nice lawn requires much of the same effort needed to keep a good body. Good nutrition, exercise, and diet are all necessary to achieve the perfect body. Similarly, the lawn requires good fertilizing, weeding, mowing, and trimming; but then again, how many people have a perfect body or a perfect lawn?

The next main idea that Teyssot develops are the terms industrial complex and environmental harmony. Essentially, industrial complex means following the mainstream (aka. upkeeping your lawn) and environmental harmony means letting things go back to the way they use to be (aka. leaving your lawn alone). Following the thought of well kept lawns, Teyssot moves to reason why people do it. Some do it due to social expectations (industrial complex) and peer pressure. Others do it because they feel the lawn is an extension of their home’s interior. In fact, I would not be surprised to find a high correlation between well kept houses and well kept lawns. The final important point in Teyssot’s article dealt with the use and/or necessity of fences in American lawns. The fence currently serves as a divider between properties as well as a barrier for privacy. In some cases, it might even be used as an aesthetic decoration for our lawns. Regardless of the reason, Teyssot presents many views and arguments on use of fences and whether they should/shouldn’t be used and whether they are/aren’t needed.

The American Lawn was certainly an interesting article that takes a look at American suburbanization in a new way. I found that I was able to relate personally to many of the aspects described by Teyssot and can also understand the other viewpoints that he presents. Part of me completely agrees that well kept lawns are part of the social culture, helped by peer pressure. There is also undeniable evidence that those with clean and decorative interiors tend to have “better” lawns. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those who do have nice lawns are out of touch with nature. In fact, the accepted definition of a lawn does not state that it is part of nature… In many people’s minds, it is simply an extension of our homes.


1. Should lawns be considered as part of our homes or part of nature?

2. How many people actually keep their lawns in tip top shape?

3. Why do we have lawns in the first place?

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