This is one of those books you just can't put down. It's a collection of essays about Fritz Haeg's Edible Estates project, where people remove their grass lawns and replace them with productive gardens. The the self-affirming first section might as well be titled "why lawns are bad," and most of know the reasons: wasted water, pollution from fertilizer and mowing. But the stories of the first three Edible Estates, told in the voice of the three families which decided to replace their lawns, hold more than a few surprises.
The biggest surprise for us was how welcome this "attack" seems to be. As new gardener Stan Cox tells it:
The first question people ask about our Edible Estate is either "Have your neighbors complained?" or "Has the city fined you?" Everyone, it seems, claims to like the new front yard, yet everyone expects others not to like it.
So the project, despite the title, is not so much an attack on the front lawn, but an attack on our attitudes about the suburbs. Sure, many places have regulations that set requirements for not only how often you must mow, but also what species of grass you may plant. But we'd be willing to wager that in just as many places the regulations are purely imaginary, and that your neighbor would be just as thrilled with a bit of variety and difference -- not to mention a salad with fresh, homegrown tomatoes -- as you would.
The book lists for $24.95; at the time of this post, the price at Amazon was $16.47. There's also an extensive Edible Estates website maintained by Fritz Haeg.