People Who Live In Suburbs: Classy, Icky, or Dudes?

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My friends move to the suburbs when their babies are born. They become inexplicably conservative and boring. What happens out there?

Momus, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

It's the suburbs, so arguably nothing to do but watch TV and become horrible. This at least explains Irvine, where I work.

Perhaps something in babydom encourages conservatism. Having briefly looked after a coworker's kids yesterday (and they're both cool, but a handful), it was quite tempting to boil everything down to narrow-minded sloganeering in order to get a point across.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

And sounding a little less flippant -- I was essentially born and raised in suburbs or smaller towns. The atmosphere need not produce the person in the same way. I live in what is essentially a suburb of LA, as is everything in the basin -- and I'm about fifty miles from the city center, if not more. OC is famous for its conservative nature, alas, but I've known many open-minded folks here (on both ends of the political spectrum, I should note) who are in fact products of the area and wish to stay. Not everything is so cut and dried with this question.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Dud(es). How can you even find your way back home from the office? It all looks the same to me. I am quite sure that the suburbs partially makes people form rock bands. Didn't Iggy Pop say it was hell and he couldn't wait to escape suburbia?

nathalie, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

They get to tell people they live in the city, while evading all the nasty and pricey bits, and talk like they're Travis Bickle to people who don't know better. This only lasts until they inevitably get married and never leave their houses again except to buy a bigger satellite dish.

dave q, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

My ex couldn't stand the suburbs, but then again she came from a wealthy background and didn't appreciate that the not so well off need somewhere to live as well.

There's something good about living right on the cusp of London, suburbia's a lot more peaceful and spacious. I like the freedom of being able to dip into the city as and when I choose.

Trevor, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I am too fast paced, impatient, and easily bored a person to live in the suburbs. I do not know how to drive, either. I don't understand the allure. Some people like it, they like to live quiet lives, and that's what they need to do. I'd rather live on the city streets though, personally.

Ally, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I read that first sentence as "too fast paced, important and easily...". Well, I'm not going to disagree!

Sean, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

That too, of course.

Ally, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Slagging off Suburbia: remarkably old-hat and dull thing to do. Unwise, too, I think. Surely we've learned that creativity and fascination are variable and complex things, that all kinds of people live in all kinds of places? I say props to the suburbs, and to living in peace, if you're lucky enough to find it.

the pinefox, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Wise words from the Pinefox. It shouldn't matter where you come from, some of the most successful individuals have emerged from some of the most impoverished areas. For most of us, where we live is a matter of economic necessity - not many people can afford to just go out and buy a house anywhere.

I would absolutely *love* to live in London at the moment, but wallet wise that's a total no-no. At present there is only one borough in the whole of London where the average annual salary is sufficient to meet the average annual mortgage repayment. To say that all suburbia looks the same smacks of ignorance and upper middle class snobbery to me.

Trevor, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I like the suburbs, it's not as if anyone except the super-rich and uber-trendy can afford to live in the city anyhow.

jel, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Um, NYC suburbs are all really expensive too. Northeast - expensive anywhere.

Ally, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I have often wondered why people rage against the suburbs, they seem no more or less offensive than anywhere else. Slagging the suburbs = monstrous dud, in few other fields are there so many tired cliches (everyone's the same, everything looks the same etc). I can't think of any criticism than can be applied to suburbia in it's entirety and be true. In fact, I can't realy see any advantage to living further in to the city aside from travelling convenience.
"To say that all suburbia looks the same smacks of ignorance and upper middle class snobbery to me."
Yes, I think this is key. Certainly, no-one who had ever lived in the suburbs for any length of time (in my case - 20 years) would actually claim that suburbia has the negative qualities attributed to it. Unless they're posing and hoping for the approval of upper-middle class, usually arty, snobs.

DG, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Oh sure, I guess New York's a different kettle of fish altogether... as I'll hopefully be finding out for myself in October. A friend of mine has an appartment in Manhattan paid for by Columbia University, the lucky git!

Trevor, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Sure it's easy to slag off the suburbs, but I'm easy like Sunday morning. Prices in the suburbs are not appreciably lower than in Zone 1 anymore, so there's no excuse. Why would I want to save perhaps £50 a month in return for a endless train journey? In my experience (perhaps this is not true of everybody), people I know who have moved further out have essentially realised that they're content to 'grow up' and start getting house-proud, taking their jobs in Dad's furniture business seriously for once, and neurotic about their pension plans, etc. Going gently into that good Zone 6 night, of course. I mean, if you're in your 20s and you panic about getting the last train home because there's an 'important day at work tomorrow', you're lost.

dave q, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Suburbia is an end, not a means. I'm sure we all did city development in geography at school. As I said in the London thread, I think London's suburbia is amazingly diverse. Of course you have to first admit that places like Wimbledon, Hampstead and Hackney are all suburbia first - which kind of goes against the original idea that suburbia is one bland block of faceless housing.

It is defined as housing to sleep in, which is oddly why nothing obviously exciting goes on there. Except those garage bands, those DJ's, those people making killing machines out of wheelchairs & flymo's to win on Robot Wars. Around the idea that most people who spend their time in suburbia are at school you might get a vague idea why less excitement is going on.

Your friends become inexplicably(?) conservative (small C?) and boring because now they just aren't interested in entertaining you anymore. They have something more important in their life - a baby.

If you don't live in hicksville, or suburbia then you have nowhere to escape from.

Pete, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Not that there's anything WRONG with the lifestyle I described, but it's a certain tone of weary-but-cheerful resignation I encounter in suburbia that grates. Smugness? I'd rather deal with smugness of the urban boho variety than the "It's OK, you'll grow up and leave that filthy slum eventually and join us" type.

dave q, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Prices are appreciably lower out here in Zone 4 than in Zone 1, thank Mr Q in King's Cross.
If people become boring once they move to the suburbs it's probably because they are actually boring people anyway, it's got nothing to do with where they live. Are all urbanites amazingly interesting? Hmm, think not.

DG, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

> Going gently into that good Zone 6 night, of course. I mean, if > you're in your 20s and you panic about getting the last train home > because there's an 'important day at work tomorrow', you're lost.

Well it all depends how much you value your job really, so that's another matter entirely. I *heart* my job, so if that means I'm lost then I can live with that.

Anyhow, speaking of Zone 6 the district line beckons me - can't wait to curl up in a comfy chair with my pipe and slippers - I hear there's a good film on telly tonight. ;-)

Trevor, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

You're on the District Line? So when are you planning on getting home, Christmas?

dave q, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'd better wish you a Happy New Year now, just in case.

Trevor, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Being patronised by 'urbanites' is part of life in the big city for recent arrivals from suburbia. Scratch hard enough and you'll find most of us doing the taunting came from there, we're just checking you out, putting you through your paces. But I really do resent those who move here to have salad days then fuck off back to Zone Hell with their papoose (see: numerous Hoxton references). I mean, why bother? Ditto for pied a terre folk.

London alternative: move to Brighton instead. The glut of demi-trendy breeder-tendency kidult bourgie bohos MUST BE SEEN TO BE BELIEVED.

suzy, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

>>> But I really do resent those who move here to have salad days then fuck off back to Zone Hell with their papoose (see: numerous Hoxton references). I mean, why bother? Ditto for pied a terre folk.

Eh? This is hard to get. But I *think* you're saying: people shouldn't move to the inner city, then leave again. Why the hell not? Who are you to tell them what do to with their lives, for goodness' sake?

the pinefox, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Yes I'd like to move to Brighton...

David Inglesfield, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Since all the obvious minuses of the suburbs have been pointed... some pluses: nature. My parents live in the suburbs of St. Louis, and have deer quite often in the backyard. Also mammoth Great Horned Owls, Screech Owls, foxes, coyotes, and all sorts of other woodland creatures.
Long safe walks
Easier to have dogs i.e. you don't have to pick up their shit as you walk down the street
Better schools
Long drives at night
Familiarity breeds (contempt, but also) friendliness. Employees at restaurants, grocery stores (Which by the way, kick the crap out the big city ones) can know you by name. And you are more likely to run into someone you know.

bnw, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I think suburbs are *great* and I don't understand why boring middle-class people want to leave them. Don't they know that suburbs are the next trendy happening place to live? It's obvious when you see all of the arty funny-haired teenagers hanging out at places like the 7-11 parking lot and White Castle, and all the baggy panted geto kids hanging out at the mall! If you want seedy glamour by proxy, look no further! And now the suburbs are complaining about traffic, pollution and crime! Not to mention corrupt politics! Why have the suburbs become so unfashionable?

Kerry, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I've lived in the suburbs all my life and have had no opportunity to move out. I hope that doesn't make me automatically icky because you know what? There's nothing I can do about it right now. Rather, nothing I'd want to do. I guess I could run away to New York City and do God only knows what, but I'd rather just finish school.

Good points:
safe and suitable for walking, biking, and going on vacation without locking the doors
trees and grass
proximity to stores and other people

Bad points:
Not enough wilderness to be really gorgeous
lack of cultural events (school concerts are about it)

And worst of all, NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. There is a lovely fun job I was offered today and I can't take it. Why not? Because the rest of my family has places to go and we do not have multiple cars or a goddamn BUS to get me there. I am really, really upset about this. The only place I can work anytime soon is the grocery store.

Lyra, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I really wish more people who had kids, etc, would stay in cities, send their kids to state schools, etc. rather than hive them off to suburbs due to Conservative Fear. Because as it stands cities are places where only the very rich or very poor remain, creating horrible divisions in society and perpetuating many ills. That's what bugs me.

I grew up in a suburb (bordering city) which was multicultural and filled to the brim with Jewish intellectuals and faculty brats. You only went private if from out of town and/or you suffered from behavioural problems. 20/20 hindsight tells me it was great, but this was the exception.

Still, I moved to NYC and then to London at first available chance.

suzy, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I think we have to make a difference between suburbs and rural life. Living as a farm kid is tough , siving as a sub-urban is coddle good.

anthony, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

As a kid I never could understand why my address read "Knoxville" yet the house I lived in was outside the city limits. Actually I still don't.

Pluses: you can smell things (nice things). You can hear things that are more than 50 feet away. There are places to fuck around that aren't necessarily made of concrete. Romance is easier to come by because of opportunity for adventurous privacy.

Tho I'm stumped by people who live in pre-fab white picket Connecticut paradise and commute 2 hours to work in MANHATTAN. Surely they've got it backwards?

Tracer Hand, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Priorities change, people and attitudes change. Perhaps, they think their old friends in the city are boring and horrible. What's it called, domestication? Some people feel tied down, some people feel most comfortable.

Nude Spock, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

The Suburns are Euro-american living pods popular for their isolation and seclusion, allowing a social interaction -free life. This prevents minorities from seeing them and vice versa. The television acts as the survelince monitor for world events and to have social times. No more apartment neighboors, a welcome sight to the easily annoyed and annoying American stereo owner.

I HAVE WONDERED WHAT A CITY BABY WOULD BE LIKE?!?!?! City babies I met in college seemed well - adjusted though a bit boozy and promiscuous.

Mike Hanle y, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Being a bit boozy and promiscuous sounds like a major plus!

Sean, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

And people talk about not wanting a dog in the city cause it would be cruel!!

Tracer Hand, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Does living in a town nowhere near London count as the suburbs? It's not that bad, really. There is life down here too! Having said that, we own a pied-a-terre and are obviously rich bastards but if my family can afford it, why shouldn't we?
Anyway, the suburbs and the city are both classics in their own eccentric ways. Yeah.

Bill, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

The areas immediately to the east of London are probably the most right-wing anywhere in Britain: three seats in East London / Essex were *regained* by the Tories in their recent election disaster, which says it all (what a shocking litany of current and recent-past Tory MPs Essex and Kent have - Norman Tebbit, Iain Duncan Smith, Andrew "Italian Fascists' Lackey" Rosindell, Bob Spink, Jacques Arnold, Julian Brazier, Eric "Evangelical Sect" Pickles, Bob Dunn, David "Cake" Amess: hardly any West Country Tory MPs have ever been that far to the right). When I lived in the Dartford / Gravesend area (it's been 7 years since I last saw it now, and would be thankful never to see it again) there was also a good deal of petty, aggressive racism about, and by all accounts since I left asylum seekers have been attacked and it's been seen as quite a natural, common thing to happen. The BNP's Head of Publicity has an 01322 (Dartford) phone number according to their website. Gravesend used to have a Tory MP who'd been involved with the Monday Club and maybe even the National Front in the 70s.

What all this says is that a lot of people in South Essex and North Kent - Richard Littlejohn country, the cliches are rooted in truth I'm afraid - are consciously reacting to the multiculturalism of the city from which they garner their wealth, and react by creating a kind of aggressive white English state, a recreation of an imagined monocultural outer London. And of course it's infinitely nastier and pettier than those London suburbs ever were. London actually felt no closer from there than it feels from South Dorset, which is a curious state of affairs.

However I know other suburbs are nicer and more civilised places: the parts of south-west London straddling the Thames (from blue to yellow in one glorious thrust in '97) seem lovely to me. Colindale is OK. Does Brighton count as a suburb of the "extended city of London" (cf Hywel Williams in the Guardian late last year). If so, it's GRATE.

Robin Carmody, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Ooh, I hope my comments about NF activity in the South-West Londony suburbs don't go and mess up anyone's theories...

I think that, broadly speaking, Robin's right - at least in terms of voting habits etc of suburbs east of London and those of the suburbs south-west of London.

I think (hope) that most of the NF activity was just a couple of nuts rather than typical of the people where I live. The stickering was quite frenzied (about 50 suddenly appeared over night covering Worcester Park station. I actually know for a fact that there is/was at least one active NF member who lived near me (I remember seeing a picture of him at an NF rally in Searchlight and thinking "Blimey - he went to the same school as me"). The NF opened an office in Epsom but despite me living quite near Epsom, I have NO IDEA what it's like (why would anyone get a train in THAT direction?).

Other scary far-right things that happened in my lovely south-west London suburb:

Crazed nut phoned police after Brick Lane nailbomb claiming responsibility (Edward Davey MP said the phone box should be "disinfected").

Asian guy attacked by ten drunken yobs a few weeks ago in violent racial assault.

On a more positive note, New Malden has something like the highest concentration of Koreans outside Korea in the world. I'm not sure why they love New Malden so much - it's not that good.

jamesmichaelward, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

And of course you had a particularly right-wing, thuggish Tory candidate (David Shaw, himself unsurprisingly once an MP in Kent) against a Lib Dem majority of only 56. From what little I heard he tried to stir up a lot of sub-racist sentiments in the same way that, say, Andrew Rosindell did in Romford: he truly deserved the massive tactical LD vote that confronted him. A 15,000-plus Lib Dem majority, wasn't it?

Robin Carmody, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

If I may just post my thoughts on some of the issues raised here:
As most of you may well know by now I actually live in the East London/Essex area talked about above, and so I have a few things to say.
- "creating a kind of aggressive white English state" Robin, I suggest you actually come here and have a look around. There is a sizeable non-white population, and indeed the Tory candidate for Ilford South this year was a fellow called Suresh Kumar, who lost to Mike Gapes (Labour) who has been MP here since 1992, I think. Take a walk along the high road and you will find many a curry house or halal butcher, and witin 100 yards of each other there is both an Islamic bookshop and a Gurdwara. There is very little overt racism, and whilst it's true opposite my house there's a junction box with a swastika daubed on the front that's (usually) about as far as it goes, 14 year olds with spray paint who reckon they're well 'ard. The BNP didn't field a candidate this year, so I would imagine this disqualifies my locality somewhat from the areas that are "most right- wing anywhere in Britain" when compared to say, ooh, Oldham. As for "Richard Littlejohn country", this is fairly accurate in terms of the small-minded ignorant Sun reader stereotype that does stalk my streets, but it applies equally across all races, I find.
I don't mean to be rude, but as much as there is to moan about Ilford/Romford, it is my home and I will defend it.

DG, Friday, 31 August 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

i grew up (18 yrs) in various New Jersey suburbs, and i loved all of them. being an only child for 10 years and not living by many kids as a small child, my imagination was my best friend, and in a suburban backyard, where it's safe for an 8 year old to wander and play, the imagination RULES. the suburb i lived in from junior high through high school was great - everything was, at most, 40 minutes away. ("At most" being NYC.)

since moving to a semi-urban area (St Louis), i enjoy it a lot less. i'm hoping to move to NYC in about 2 or 3 years, and hopefully i'll enjoy that more. i think the main problem w/ St Louis is the lack of ANY type of worthwhile "scene", but that seems to be a whole new thread topic. i simply moved to the part of the city i liked best, and i'm a lot happier now.

while suburbans can be snobs, driving around in giant Sport Utility Vehicles and partaking in Lawn Wars, fighting over who has the bigger status symbol, most teenagers who complain about suburban life tend to be boring individuals inthe first place, no matter what setting you place them in. it's all about making the best of what you're given.

mike j, Saturday, 1 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

DG, I'm sorry if I offended you at all.

The areas I had in mind are, I guess, further from central London than the area where you live.

I have however always been struck by how much nastier and more aggressive Toryism is when it's actually facing multiculturalism in the face than when it's at a relative distance. So only very recently have West Country Tory MPs become quite as nasty as the south-east mob (Oliver Letwin and Adrian Flook are obviously far more right-wing and far easier to hate instantly than Sir James Spicer and Edward Du Cann were).

However all the points you make are true, and I only had a minority (albeit a particularly aggressive and vicious one) in mind. I just found it curious that the biggest Tory revival in terms of Westminster seats was in East London / Essex (rather than in the outer shires as had been generally expected) and was throwing a few thoughts, perhaps overt generalisations, around.

Robin Carmody, Saturday, 1 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

where i live in sydney we have huge ethnic mix, a train station, members of the taliban wearing funny pink dresses and thongs who live above us, and great abkeries that sell lots of sweet things...according to the papers, we also have lots of gang violence and driveby shootings, but i haven't shot anyone yet.

Geoff, Saturday, 1 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'm not offended Robin, I just wanted to stick up for my town and to make sure people don't get the wrong impression and stick to boring cliches about what this end of London is like, that's all.

DG, Saturday, 1 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

And you were quite right. Thanks.

Robin Carmody, Saturday, 1 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Isn't Northeast USA suburbia plagued by Lyme disease?

dave q, Saturday, 1 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

re; massive LD tactical vote in kingston & surbiton - i got the impression there was huge relief on the part of many people i spoke to in and around town when i was there that they had a lib candidate who could plausibly win escaping them from a guilty labour vote. plus the tory caompaign amounted to about two leaflets - i got about 10 different liberal ones, and the whole area was awash with yellow placards.

matthew james, Saturday, 1 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'm sure you're right, Matthew (speaks someone who guiltily voted LD when the tactical option was to vote Labour). The LDs put on the massive, high-profile campaign you describe in that seat principally *because* the Tory candidate was so violently, aggressively right- wing (he had, before 1997, represented the same town that gave us the "Let's wash asylum seekers down the drain" local paper headline).

Robin Carmody, Sunday, 2 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Suburbs are crap because they're the worst of both worlds -- they're as heartless and as artificial as the city, but as geographically isolating and socially conservative as rural areas can be. There's nothing beautiful around you, nowhere to go without ending up in someone's backyard, and nothing to do. And they encourage the most consumerist aspects of American culture. It's hard not to have your sensibilities permanently affected if you live in a genuinely rural area, but the suburbs have Nature Lite, at best.

Of course, when I'm thinking of "suburbs" I'm thinking of places where all the houses look exactly the same -- Levittown-style stuff, where people give the streets fancy names to hide the fact that they live in an utter and total corporate contrivance. But not all towns near to cities are like that, of course, and it is not for those that my withering stare is intended...

Phil, Monday, 3 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

When you enter the suburbs, you feel yourself slipping in a coma.

travis bickle, Monday, 3 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

You literally can’t get an umbrella liability policy if you have one of those in your yard, that’s how awesome they are.

I have one of those policies and the questions are like “are you a journalist” “are you a doctor” “do you have livestock” etc. A bunch of things that make you likely to get sued. And then the last one is “do you have a trampoline”.

― 𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 02:59 (nine hours ago) link

https://decider.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/debbie-downer.png?w=646&h=431&crop=1

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 12:16 (nine months ago) link

easy fix

https://i.imgur.com/gSIIYuZ.jpg

turn the jawhatthefuckever on (One Eye Open), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 12:26 (nine months ago) link

good grief do I hate mowing lawns, a not insignificant reason why I will never live anywhere again where that's necessary. the stench of the exhaust, the heat of the engine, the dust and debris, not to mention the animals I've accidentally killed doing it (snakes, mice, little bitty bunnies): it's enough not to have a backyard.

I mean I hate all housing upkeep so lawn mowing is just a particularly vile instance of what I hate. I'm not talking about chores like cleaning the toilet or doing dishes, I mean like fixing holes in the walls or whatever other shit you have to do with a dumb house, I've lived in apartments for the last seven years now & it's just way better for me.

All cars are bad (Euler), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 13:12 (nine months ago) link

I love mowing the lawn. The stench of the exhaust, the heat of the engine, the dust and debris...

Years ago, when we were between Great Danes, I almost mowed over a warren of little bunny rabbits. One jumped out right before I got there, and as soon as I turned off the mower, they were everywhere.

The mama showed up, who looked both very worried and very relieved at the same time.

https://i.imgur.com/QlRneph.jpg

You can see one of the babies partially hidden in the grass in the middle.

pplains, Wednesday, 7 October 2020 13:21 (nine months ago) link

yeah it was like that for me except a flash of red

All cars are bad (Euler), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 13:38 (nine months ago) link

That's why I got the 24" Toro self-propelled and not the Watership Lawn D-250.

pplains, Wednesday, 7 October 2020 14:30 (nine months ago) link

I'm still in tharn

All cars are bad (Euler), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 14:36 (nine months ago) link

One of the first things that struck me about the burbs was definitely the frequency and duration of the sound of lawnmowers, weed wackers and leaf blowers and the constant presence of landscaper trucks on my block.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 14:38 (nine months ago) link

C's house is right in the middle of an old town, where lots are less than .25 of an acre-ish sized, and while they are pretty close together, that doesn't really bother me coming from Brooklyn. It does mean that no one has very much lawn to mow, just a little bit around the house that doesn't have trees or gardens on it.

Outside of town, lots of houses have MULTIPLE ACRES just laid to lawn, putting the house 100 yards back from the road but with nothing in between but a sea of grass with giant mower tracks across it. It's horrible.

Ima Gardener (in orbit), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 15:19 (nine months ago) link

I mean, C and his neighbor both have gas mowers but each can mow their whole yard in 20 mins or so, partly bc we both have decks and gardens taking up some of that space.

Basically just to say it's about ecosystem management! DOWN WITH LAWNS

Ima Gardener (in orbit), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 15:21 (nine months ago) link

Lawns are stupid. My children don't do much of anything outside anymore so all the grass is getting replaced with something else (cedar chips, plants, other ground cover.

As noted I spent the last few months trying to transition to clover, but unfortunately nature has had other plans. What I am getting instead is dust and ground ivy. Fine whatev. Just as long as it isn't grass.

while my keytar gently bleeps (Ye Mad Puffin), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 15:31 (nine months ago) link

I was all about finding a more ecological alternative to my lawn until I realized how much up front cost and hassle there would be to ripping up my lawn and replacing it. Eventually maybe but I have too much other shit to take care of rn.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 15:31 (nine months ago) link

i’ve heard good things about microclover

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 15:33 (nine months ago) link

clover is high on our list of eventual possibilities

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 15:34 (nine months ago) link

i think to work well it needs to be mixed in with your fescue or what have you. not sure can be the only ground cover.

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 15:40 (nine months ago) link

can you just kind of plant it among whatever you already have or do you need to rip everything up and plant a mix?

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 15:42 (nine months ago) link

I was all about finding a more ecological alternative to my lawn until I realized how much up front cost and hassle there would be to ripping up my lawn and replacing it

Yeah that's sometimes how it goes with ecological footprint. Like, hybrid and electric cars are cool but should you get rid of a 10-year-old Honda Civic or buy a new hybrid? Surely the industrial consequences of manufacturing, transporting any new car should be factored vs. the consequences of just keeping what you have and using it until it doesn't work anymore.

Then you think for just a little bit more than a minute and realize that an electric car requires electricity, which means your Nissan Leaf (or whatever) could have a sticker on it that says "powered by coal!" In a lot of areas, that's how you recharge your battery.

Ditto with lawn stuff - ripping up a lawn and replacing it will involve trucks to transport materials, trucks to transport materials away, machine labor to assist the process, hundreds of gallons of water (and all the infrastructure entailed in getting clean water from place to place), etc. etc.

Of course my strategy of gentle encouragement / gentle discouragement hasn't worked all that well either, so what do I know?

And yes, most folks go with a mix of miniclover or microclover with grass seed, or mixed in with existing grass. In theory you shouldn't need fertilizer as clover is self-fertilizing (and should also theoretically fertilize whatever it gets mixed with).

But lots will depend on your soil condition, mix of sun and shade, and what the weather decides to do.

while my keytar gently bleeps (Ye Mad Puffin), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 15:46 (nine months ago) link

I just rip up a few square feet of old, compacted sod every few months, throw it away, and plant either seeds or bulbs or a transplant in it. The things that had a lot of space between them last year, this year were overgrown and crowded and will probably need to be thinned this winter--it's not a quick process, but time makes it beautiful!

Next spring I should have over 2 doz new narcissus and hyacinths to make the front view pretty (from the street) which will die back in May/June and be covered by the perennial bee garden that grows up later in the summer.

This was my third summer of gardening, I should say! It took time to see what the prev owner had done and how it looked and aged during the seasons. Gardening is a long game by definition.

Ima Gardener (in orbit), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 16:05 (nine months ago) link

major LOL at Watership Lawn D-250

sarahell, Wednesday, 7 October 2020 17:59 (nine months ago) link

yes, that was beautiful

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 21:39 (nine months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Lol

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Sunday, 25 October 2020 03:20 (nine months ago) link

i'm standing with donna on this one

call all destroyer, Sunday, 25 October 2020 03:29 (nine months ago) link

Donna is the clear hero of this story and also wkiw

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Sunday, 25 October 2020 04:45 (nine months ago) link

The line about the warranty on the paint was a master stroke

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Sunday, 25 October 2020 04:46 (nine months ago) link

one month passes...

Dick Hopkins is a fragile flower whose delicate constitution cannot contend with the trauma induced by bright colours two doors down.

Hans Holbein (Chinchilla Volapük), Wednesday, 25 November 2020 07:03 (eight months ago) link

five months pass...

FWIW i was just talking to the tree service guy, a longtime local, and he was saying the thinking in the area on lawns has "dramatically shifted" in the last two decades, and that many more people are just letting their lawns be semi-wild, planting lawn alternatives, etc. He said many people now just want "something green" and don't care about having "a golf course" in front of their house.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 28 April 2021 21:19 (three months ago) link

My father-in-law has had his lawn professionally re-done for what I'm pretty sure is the 4th time in the 20 years he's lived there. His lawn looked great to all the rest of us, but he was upset that weeds and moss were showing up in places and the grass was (apparently, to him) not growing in others. His yard is a mostly shaded area in sandy soil, so of course you're gonna have problems growing grass on it! The lawn basically exists to get mowed. Maybe 3-4 times a year, pre-pandemic, the grandkids would run around on it at parties, but kids don't count blades of grass. No one else in the family understands, but the mentality is so ingrained in him so we just congratulate him on the new lawn. Hopefully this time it will achieve his expectations.

Ours is mostly whatever is growing wild around here - dandelions, onion grass, clover, mugwort, etc.

peace, man, Wednesday, 28 April 2021 21:33 (three months ago) link

I honestly like seeing all the dandelions and onion grass and stuff in my neighborhood, I think it's much prettier than just straight grass, esp since the landscape is already kind of rustic and rocky and hilly.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 28 April 2021 21:36 (three months ago) link

After that recent horrible freeze in Texas, the first thing my GF's dad did was start working on his San Antonio yard because the cold had killed everything. 81 years old, still recovering from Covid (which his wife also had)and frozen pipes, and he's out there yanking plants out because what would the neighbors think?

I would assume the neighbors' yards had also died but that's the mentality in the 'burbs.

Andy the Grasshopper, Wednesday, 28 April 2021 21:38 (three months ago) link

lol yeah i mow something out there every two weeks in the summer but i'm sure a lot of it isn't really grass.

(•̪●) (carne asada), Wednesday, 28 April 2021 21:39 (three months ago) link

Yeah, it's a good vibe! Lot of pretty flowers out there right now.

xps

peace, man, Wednesday, 28 April 2021 21:41 (three months ago) link

I remember my parents telling me that neighbors complained to them about our lawn maintenance, and that once a neighbor actually cut our grass without asking

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 28 April 2021 21:56 (three months ago) link

One of the nice things also about not spraying a lot of chemical fertilizer and pesticide and weed killer is that you get tons of birdlife in the yard. I realized when I moved where I live that the reason a lot of suburbs I've been to feel sort of fake and sterile is that lawn maintenance and landscaping practices basically destroy the possibility of any kind of habitat.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 28 April 2021 21:58 (three months ago) link

A traditional lawn is fucking dumb, and it's insane that a more natural yard could get you fined in some communities.
Most front lawns by me here in AZ are gravel + landscaped plants/trees. But a few ppl have green grass lawns and they stick out like a sore thumb. Just that much more apparent how fake and unnatural they are when you see them in a desert environment.
My backyard seamlessly merges with the undeveloped "state trust" land behind me and I think it looks great. My gf who still spends good deal of time living in Illinois thinks I need to "get rid of all the weeds". Just indicative of a fucked up relationship with nature that most people have internalized.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Wednesday, 28 April 2021 22:13 (three months ago) link

We bought our last house directly from some acquaintances and they gave us a tour of the place which included thirty minutes of the dude explaining his lawn care routine and watering schedule (in a very arid climate) and my wife and I didn’t have the heart to tell him his life’s work would be brown and full of weeds and dog piss within three months.

A guy down the street has a magnificent golf course lawn that he spends hours maintaining and my neighbor and I just kind of laugh at him as we do the legal minimum required to not get ticketed by the city. A lot of the lawns nearby have permanent dead rings that surround the students outdoor drinking game tables anyway so nobody gives a shit.

joygoat, Wednesday, 28 April 2021 22:32 (three months ago) link

yeah fuck a lawn, grow a damn habitat

Clara Lemlich stan account (silby), Wednesday, 28 April 2021 23:14 (three months ago) link

Grass is stupid. I've been gradually replacing it with clover, ground ivy, and purple deadnettle.

Ezra Kleina Nachtmusik (Ye Mad Puffin), Thursday, 29 April 2021 00:46 (three months ago) link

I grew up in the woods. We had an acre of pine trees and pine needles between us and the road. Going through all that trouble so it can look like Soldier Field is ridiculous.

THAT SAID, God, I hate privet with a passion.

pplains, Thursday, 29 April 2021 00:59 (three months ago) link

two months pass...

FWIW my favorite development since our move is that H has gotten massively into gardening, and even more recently into native plants. Going forward we are planting only native and especially plants that are good for pollenators, butterflies and birds. And we have begun plotting out our gradual lawn replacement plan and have already added clover and wildflowers in some areas.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Saturday, 10 July 2021 02:01 (two weeks ago) link

Just started composting as well.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Saturday, 10 July 2021 02:01 (two weeks ago) link

Did you just post the book itself?

pplains, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 17:48 (one week ago) link

I really want to replace our lawn with native plants as well, kind of intimidated to start on my own since a) I know next to nothing about how to make sure it looks nice too and, b) I have literally the opposite of a green thumb. I've always wanted to get more into gardening, but I can't keep any plants alive.

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 17:51 (one week ago) link

part of the idea of planting native plants is they are more likely to just stay alive without constant intervention

Clara Lemlich stan account (silby), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 18:05 (one week ago) link

Haha, I know, but this is how little faith I have in my skills. I understand they generally need a little help at the start though.

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 18:12 (one week ago) link

In Seattle there's a program that will pay for you to install a rain garden on your property and will help you with the installation; might be worth seeing if there's anything like that near you.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 18:51 (one week ago) link

My wife is just kind of diving in and trying a lot of different plantings. I'm doing my best to help. There's a company called American Meadows she sometimes uses that will send you plants that go together, and in some cases they have seed packs of stuff that grows really easily and is hard to fuck up (like wildflower mixtures).

The book I tried to post above is called Nature's Best Hope, not sure what happened with the link.

We're only just getting started with replacing some of the front lawn, moreso have been planting in rocky areas in our backyard. H is way more the one doing it than me, I just kind of supply labor when I can, but I would say one way to avoid the intimidation factor is just to pick a small patch to start with, maybe something out of the way so it doesn't fuck with the "curb appeal" if you fail.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 22:45 (one week ago) link

There may be a Native Plant Society facebook group in your area. They are usually good about offering advice to beginners.

nickn, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 22:53 (one week ago) link

Actually doesn't have to be local, statewide is fine. I'm in the California group and they give advice for every locale in the state.

nickn, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 22:55 (one week ago) link


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