Why is it that I am not comforted by the LA Times article on the quest for a low-water use lawn, Turf scientists on a quest to engineer superlawn?
My biggest concern derives from knowing how weedy and invasive Bermuda and other grasses have been. Some of these grasses, especially ones that are drought-tolerant, show up everywhere. Bermuda is rampant in the South Pasadena Nature Park that I help maintain with a group of volunteers. When I started reading the article I thought that, since genetic engineering was involved, the grass might be sterile, staying where it is put. On the contrary:
To have a shot at commercial success, the grass also would have to tolerate shade, be resistant to fungi and pests, grow at a relatively slow pace, produce ample seeds and pass down the same characteristics from generation to generation.
So here we go again, creating something that is unnecessary, but has the potential to prolong and further enrich an already very lucrative industry, and this time in the name of sustainability.
Yes, I have gone on record saying that I like having a bit of lawn in my yard, and some might argue that if a turfgrass could be created that used little water, it would benefit the environment. Unfortunately I think this would not be the outcome. Enabling people to continue plastering the earth with green lawns, whether genetically engineered or manufactured from plastic, would override all of the other things that a garden can be. A monoculture of turfgrass provides no habitat for the critters we so enjoy watching – you know the Bambis of the yard like butterflies, hummingbirds, lizards and birds – let alone the real habitat value that diverse gardens with lots of native plants could have.
It makes me mad enough to want to kill every last blade of turfgrass in my yard – and right after I confessed to liking it…
Sorry for the rant. I feel better now – well, a little.