Part of the front yard of Chateau Thompson: Sharing the obsession
One does not have to spend much time in Floyd County to know that many residents here are obsessed with their yards.
Homeowners here have large, well-manicured lawns that require constant, obsessive attention.
Our three-and-a-half acre front yard (above) would be considered large in many areas but is about average here, although ours is on a slope that is about 35 degrees in some places which makes mowing a real adventure.
But, according to CBS Sunday Morning, obsession with yards is a national trend:
"It gets mowed twice a week," Mike Walls says of his lawn.
In Hilliard, Ohio, Walls, and his wife, Jenny, are self-described lawn fanatics.
For some people, working in the yard is therapy. For the Walls, it’s a sign they may need therapy.
"He’s obsessive with the yard and the grass and the lines being straight and the edging and then I like the gardening and the flowers," Jenny says.
By one estimate there are 58 million lawn-owners in the country, turning what was simple maintenance into a national pastime.
"It’s been known to be contagious, though, and we don’t think that’s a bad thing. Our neighbors see us mowing and they come over and ask us how we get the lawn like this," Mike says.
Mike has even been known to mow in the rain. Mike admits that he becomes irked when neighbors fail to keep their lawns mowed.
"I have a tendency to wander aimlessly down the road a little ways and do another person’s lawn because of that," he says. Professor Ted Steinberg studies the environment’s role in American history. "I have etched into my mind — really burned into my mind — this memory of my father mowing, watering, fertilizing.
He used to set up the sprinkler in such a way so that every single blade of grass would get some water," Steinberg says.
In the postcard perfect community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, he found the perfect subject for his next book — right out his own front door. "I took a walk in the neighborhood and I just couldn’t believe my eyes.
The lawns of some of my neighbors made the perfect lawns of my Long Island past look like a bunch of beat up old cow pastures. I thought to myself, ‘What’s up with this,’" Steinberg says.
That curiosity turned into "American Green: The Obsessive Quest For The Perfect Lawn." "There are anywhere between 25 and 40 million acres of turf in the U.S., which is an area about the size of Kentucky — perhaps as large as Florida. So I would say yes, it’s a deeply entrenched American institution," he says.