Check out Lawn Nation



In person, if you can. I was unable to attend this weekend’s opening, as I had a big dinner party and a ton of gardening to do, but Jean Dickson, whose front yard travails I posted about (and posted about, and posted about …), is one of the gardeners featured in Lawn Nation: Art and Science of the American Lawn, an exhibition now on view at the Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago. A good sampling of it is online, including some fun interactive stuff. Just click on the “lawn gallery.” Jean appears in a funny poster that uses my photographs of her and her front yard. (I hope I have a credit somewhere.)

I wish I could see this. Love the graphics. It’s not all politics and polemic; there is work that looks at lawn games, lawn shrines, and the strange sport of lawn mower racing. There is also questioning of the natural resources devoted to lawns and the use of chemicals, and explorations of alternatives to lawns. A lot of it is quite amusing and smart. Kudos to the curators; I did not see an official list, but I was contacted by Anna Huttel from the museum. [CORRECTION: Anna is the artist who did the posters that include Jean.] Lawn Nation is on view until September 7, and does not travel.

Above, you see an image of Daphne Firos and Brian Peters’ flamingos—modified to harvest rainwater and act as watering cans. Don’t worry, they’re not serious.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I have a garden coaching client who really should not try to grow grass in her back yard, but she has trouble visualizing what a back yard would look like without grass. She doesn’t want garden beds to take up the back yard. She already has generous beds in the back. Her goal is to decrease maintenance. I’m telling her that increasing the size of her lawn won’t do that.

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