gentlemen, stop your motors

The Los Angeles Times ran this piece in their Pro Portfolio section on Monday, December 26, and it really deserves another look. The article profiles the home garden of Katherine Spitz, of Katherine Spitz Associates, Inc., Landscape Architecture.


The Pro Portfolio format allows for the designer to describe their project, in this case, her home garden, in their own words. This little snippet reveals what may be a timeless conflict:

Our biggest issue was the lawn. I wanted less and my husband wanted more. It has been incrementally reduced but remains an issue. Concrete pavers replaced lawn around the circular fountain in front of the follies.”

Here’s the “before” photo, with lawn still in place:


I showed Marty both photos and asked for his honest preference, then about fell out of my chair on hearing his answer.
He prefers the photo with the lawn. Even though the luminous top photo looks like it was lit by Terrence Malick, with the windows of the twin follies gleaming gold behind the balletic arch of the fountain jets over the reflecting pool — he prefers the lawn. There is clearly an emotional attachment to well-mown turf grass that eludes me. As more frequent droughts and water scarcity necessitate increasingly smaller (or entirely absent) lawns, will it be men who mourn the loss the most?

Feel free to try this test at home.

Checking my choice for a title, I find via Google that it’s been used a mere 1,800,000 times. The Internet is certainly one of the most effective means to disabuse one’s self of any pretense of originality. Still, the title stays. I’m referring to lawn mowers, of course.

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7 Responses to gentlemen, stop your motors

  1. I’d always suspected that I’d married an odd one, this confirms it. No lawn is better in Andrew’s opinion. He would like to see it all go away…I’m the one with an emotional attachment to our little patch

  2. Scott says:

    Haha…I was actually nervous when I showed this to Norm…and kinda surprised that he liked the one sans lawn 🙂 Then again, neither of us likes mowing in the slightest…so that may have something to do with it!

  3. Denise says:

    Loree, it’s those stairs and the opportunity for staging pots on them that I’ve formed an emotional attachment to!
    Scott, I’m so glad you participated in this informal poll. I’ve been wondering if there’s any lawn in your back garden.

  4. The Mulch household is apparently somewhat traditional: although he axed the remaining Northwest Territory lawn this year, Ben embraces our remaining front lawn, where he maintains it looks period appropriate with our 1956 ranch. I would rather get rid of all of the weedy “lawn”, although it has 3 big trees casting deep shade all summer and presents the dreaded dry shade challenge to planting. But I’d take my chances!

  5. Pam/Digging says:

    Gah! How anyone could prefer the photo with the lawn is beyond me. I will show the two images to my husband with trepidation. In my own garden I’m encouraged to rip out as much lawn as I want, because that means less for him to maintain, but objectively I wonder how he’ll respond to a lawn that requires nothing from him.

  6. Pam/Digging says:

    OK, hubby said the first image was a little busy. Can’t believe it.

  7. Denise says:

    Pam, this poll is getting more and more interesting! That’s what Marty said too.

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