I started the lawn discussion - so here are my thoughts:
I have about an acre, a third of which is unmowed old apple orchard and cattail swamp. Since moving here, I’ve turned lawn into a good-sized veggie garden, a shrub garden, four large perennial beds, a raspberry patch, and two big “islands” of ground cover. But I love having lawn between all these islands. I like walking out to the vegetable garden or to hang wash on the line without having to wade through knee-high wet foliage. Like Brennan suggested, I like having an area close to the house that’s relatively free of ticks and mosquitos. Like Nancy, I love watching parent birds with young in tow, grazing on the lawn. (Yesterday, two crows were being trailed by a begging fledgling that was making odd catlike noises. The adults appeared to be finding bugs and small toads.) Having a mowed area also allows me to watch rabbits, deer and fawns, raccoons, skunks and the world’s largest woodchuck. I love lying on my lawn with my face up to the sun. I love just gazing at my lawn and gardens. My backyard has been a source of deep pleasure, pride and peace for decades now. – So I’ve accepted the discomfort of using a noisy and polluting mower. It’s one of the many trade-offs we all make. I try to compensate in other ways, such as never having owned a clothes dryer and spending gidzillions to create an incredibly well-insulated home.
When I was birding in Texas, driving from Midland to Balmorhea, I found myself cursing the foul-smelling gas and oil pumpers that dotted the landscape for a hundred miles. And then I had to face my complicity in the fact that those pumpers existed and the fact that the very air smelled and tasted like petroleum. I had flown out there on jets, and I was driving a rental car that got 25 mpg – and I’ve taken a huge number of plane-and-car birding trips. With very few exceptions, we’re all users and abusers of fossil fuels, and we’re all exacting a steep cost from the nature we love.