Lawn in the News: White House Troubles, a CBS Promo for Scotts


White House Lawn

In our continuing effort to keep you informed about the White House grounds – not because those 17 acres are important in the grand scheme, but because it’s our beat!

From the Washington Post:

On Aug. 27, Trump delivered his address formally accepting the Republican nomination on the South Lawn before an estimated 1,500 supporters seated on chairs. The president spoke from an enormous stage built in front of the South Portico of the White House. It was flanked by massive television screens and illuminated by scores of hulking spotlights — all particularly heavy equipment to position on grass.

So the turfgrass there has to be redone.

Two nights earlier, first lady Melania Trump delivered her convention address in the newly reconstructed Rose Garden, with dozens of supporters seated in chairs. *Turf was laid atop the grass as a protective measure, according to one White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because aides were not authorized to discuss some details. *Emphasis added; interpret it as “wtf?”

More new sod is needed.

CNN had the story, too. “The Trump campaign told CNN ‘The tab for the repairs to the grass will be paid for by the Trump campaign.’

No comment from ME. I’m waiting to visit the garden next spring during the Bidens’ first Spring Garden Tour, and report on it then.

But y’all go ahead.

“Great American Lawn” on CBS Sunday Morning

CBS This Morning is a beloved show – especially by me, even more so after I was ON the show in a story about coaches of various kinds, including garden coaches.

So I know this isn’t “60 Minutes,” where exposés are a regular feature. I know “Sunday Morning” is for feel-good stories, but I have to vent anyway. Their story about lawns, with correspondent Martha Teichner, includes:

  • Lawns like these. On the left is a lawn on top of a 24-story building in Chicago.
  • Ted Steinberg, author of the excellent book American Green, saying that “Coronavirus has made Americans lawn-care crazy” and “You could argue that the perfect lawn is the perfect coping mechanism in a world that’s turned upside down.” Wish he’d been used to touch on the environmental damage caused in the upkeep of those perfect lawns. Again, not “60 Minutes,” but does it have to be pure fluff?
  • Next we’re shown a long unpaid ad (or maybe paid?) for Scotts Miracle-Gro:
Scenes from actual ads were included in the story.

Called the company that “rallies the weed warriors,” Scotts ads are shown while we’re told its annual sales are $3 billion/year but that its lawn and garden product sales are up 24 percent this season! Its marketing is praised.

I wonder – did they just coordinate with the Scotts PR team without a moment’s research into the company? They sure didn’t read my round-up of valid reasons the company is SO HATED in the gardening world:  Who’s more controversial, Michelle Rhee or Scotts Miracle-Gro?

And they sure didn’t see this take-down of the company in Espoma’s brilliant video launching its organic lawn care products.

  • Finally, we meet a real “lawn nut” who creates perfect shapes as he mows, like the American flag above. Sigh.

I sure wish there’d been mention of the controversies around the company. Like being found guilty of knowingly selling poisonous bird food. Like ads promoting unnecessary and harmful use of synthetic fertilizers, especially in the spring. Like pushing the need for perfect-looking but product-demanding monocultures. We know now that it’s best for lawns to be like Ted Steinberg’s – what Teichner calls “not perfect.” You bet.

Rita Braver and CBS Sunday Morning crew with garden coach Susan Harris

I DO appreciate the opportunity to show off this photo of correspondent Rita Braver with her crew, my coaching client and me in 2007.

Rita Braver on Susan Harris's front porch in Takoma Park, MD

Here’s Rita sitting on my front porch during an unexpected visit. After the planned filming in a coachee’s garden, she asked to see MY garden and filmed the show’s opening from my porch. That required first moving a used toilet from said porch, where it was ready to be carted away. Glamorous times!

And while I’m on this tangent, GardenRant co-founder Amy Stewart has been featured on the show twice – about her cut flower book and her wicked plants book. We love the show!


  1. I love the show, but that story was fast-forward material. If my neighbor was obsessively mowing and conducting other air and noise polluting activities at all hours of the night (they really said he was doing that!), I would lose what sanity I have left (the clip of him pulling weeds or maybe just thatch with tweezers sent me into apoplexy). It’s clearly bad enough what we are doing to nature, but little attention is given to the stress all the noise of leaf blowers causes. I once watched a neighbor trying to blow every single maple seed off his sodding lawn (pun intended), and I kid you not, my husband once saw someone drying his dog with one. Signs of end times?

  2. The problem I have with most commercially sold organic fertilizers is the inclusion of animal products like bone meal, feather meal and blood meal. Almost always these are a by-product of large animal confinement operations (“factory farming”), which is neither good for the environment nor for the animals grown & slaughtered. We use these in part to say we are using a product that is safer for our pets and microclimate. Which is fine. But it’s hypocrisy to say organic products are safer and better, full-stop.

  3. Oh wow, I was so excited to find your blog, as I was searching for some ideas on gardening in public places. Then I read how you’re all political against our president actually holding EVENTS on the White House lawn! The sheer horror of that cannot be overcome!

    Now that Biden has been exposed as getting kickbacks from his perverted and drug addled son (the one on the commie Chinese payroll), I doubt you’ll get relief for the White House lawn. Somehow, I’m sure we’ll all live. And live better with a president who doesn’t have to earn his living from foreign enemies.

    Sorry our relationship was so fleeting. I’ll be over at the not snarky gardening blogs, because as a Trump voter, I’m sure I’m not welcome here.


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