We’re abusing our National Lawn, badly. And the solution is?



Don’t miss Adrian Higgins’s great article about the pitiful state of the National Mall’s turf, and the best thinking about how to solve this perennial problem.  I was glad to see Higgins interviewed not just the usual guvm’t types but also lawn-care crusader Paul Tukey, who relates the sad story of the organic demonstration site his nonprofit funded and then saw be destroyed.

Photo by ThisisBossi.  The white specs here – the aftermath of a pillow fight – actually improve the appearance of the turfgrass remains.


  1. Oh just plant vegetables. Isn’t that the new politically correct thing to do ?
    Pull up a pumpkin and have a seat during the next rally and if you want to protest something just reach down and lob a tomato from that beautifully manicured organic garden that your standing on, err, I mean in.

  2. Maybe they’ll be able to do something a la Greenlee .. American meadow .. that would be so great. We need a national petition campaign like the one to get a veg garden at the White House!

  3. the problem, in my mind, with turning the mall into a meadow or a garden is that it’s used for event space. Flag football leagues play their games on the Mall. The Folklife Festival and solar house competitions take place there as well. Not to mention my favorite summer ritual, Screen on the Green.

  4. This may be a situation in which grass block, the hollowed out pavers used to make grass driveways would be worth looking at as a solution to the compaction problem. They would have to make dern sure the base was done right so the blocks themselves wouldn’t start lifting and settling.

  5. Chris – that block sounds awfully uncomfy for sitting on come Independence Day fireworks display and Screen on the Green as Katy mentioned. Also not much fun or practical for the frisbee, soccer, etc. played on the Mall.
    Problem is no groundcover is going to stand up to all thay use and abuse and still look good year-round so it is never going to be picture postcard perfect. It could certianly look better though.
    Wondering why no reference to Trust for the National Mall in this story or did I miss it?

  6. Kathy J with a quick search I found a plastic grass block grid that would be better than block for sure to accommodate all the activity on the Mall. There could be other better plastic grid options. The same site has another product which is a plastic mesh incorporated into the soil itself to reduce soil compaction. The main problem of the lawn there seems to be soil compaction. That is the what the solution needs to address.

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