Given our stint in the suburbs where having the most beautiful, manicured lawn becomes the object of desire for homeowners, and now living in a place where dog pooped and gummy sidewalks is what greets us when we leave our front door, we were fascinated by the NY Times story about outer-borough homeowners paving their front yards. Mind you, these are not brownstone owners with a sliver of grass, these are people who fairly substantial (for NYC standards) front property, perfect for lawnmowing, fertilization, watering, you name it. The trouble with lawn maintenance is why many homeowners decide to pave, as well as that other precious city commodity: Parking space. Our first thought about paved yards was that they were ugly, but when we saw this photograph that accompanied the article, our thoughts changed to, "That's Queens?" (The other photograph, of a house in College Point, confirmed our initial thought.)
City Councilman Tony Avella is rallying against paved yards, trying to get other city agencies to perhaps see if there are various legal loopholes that can bring some grass back to the land. Avella points out that paved yards can cause flooding into neighbors' yards, but as one pro-pavementer says his yard no longer floods, wonder what would happen if all the yards are paved - will the city's sewers be able to handle the rain? And the best quote is from mother of a paved yard owner: "Lawns have ticks and disease and worms and stuff. This way, it's safe and sterile. It's a cleaner area for the children to play. I love nature and I love grass, but I don't want my family exposed to disease." That's right - we live in New York City, damn it - pavement is our true terra firma!
What do you think of paved yards? Should the city try to regulate, encouraging a certain "look" for a neighborhood? Or should people just park their cars on the grass? The University of Illinois has a lot about lawn care and remember NYC's communal yards, the NYC parks.
Photograph from the NY Times