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To me "a lawn" conjures up an image of something well-kept, mowed green grass and flowers. So I've been thinking if a person doesn't care for the space in front of his house and lets it run wild, with weeds all over the place and some random grass patches here and there, will that still be a lawn? Or is there any special word to call it? On the surface, things were going just fine. And then all of the sudden, things turned, as they often do, and our lawn began to grow. It grew to sun-dappled green and then to toothy-chomping, wild-flower-covering, beautiful-but-unmanaged-wild-ness. Today, the unmowed lawn is seven feet tall and has room to frolick and explore, but we need to mow it.
Lawns were not always designed to perform in the way they do today. In fact, it was not unusual in slightly rural towns to grow food or keep animals on the property up until the late nineteenth century. Towns like Garden City, NY were developed initially by an investor, A. T. Stewart in the 19th century. Houses were individually designed by the people who bought the plots from the original investor. This created more plots of land available that was actually in demand. (McAlester 87) Deed restrictions would mandate uniform setbacks, side yards and street tree in order to create an aesthetic unity throughout the town. Post-Depression Era, under the National Housing Act of 1934, developers scooped up large swaths of land and design entire neighborhoods all at once. After the creation of zoning codes by the NY State Legislature, towns were able to establish these codes that would mandate a setback from the front property line.
The aesthetics of the front lawn are heavily regulated, and is often regulated by neighbor communication or reporting. Garden City’s laws indicate that: “No owner of any land within the Village shall permit noxious weeds, long grass or other rank growths on real property owned by him or on any abutting property between his property line and the gutter.” (63-1) Renovations of the house must not “depreciate the value of property in the Village”. Economic disparities become visibly present in their inability to afford lawn-care equipment or gardening services. The rules exist to oust those who do not fit the bill and cannot conform to the American Dream formats. This creates a group of out-casted individuals that have already been excluded via the remnants of redlining or modern-day steering practices. (Source: commons.pratt.edu)