Imagine driving down the main street of a town you’ve never visited before. What would you rather see there – a McDonald’s and a Walmart, or a local diner and drugstore?
While seeing familiar chain businesses helps us feel oriented, it also leaves us with the impression that we haven’t really gone anywhere. Travelling doesn’t seem worth it when every place looks the same.
We travel because we want to experience something new – different food, different architecture, different customs. These unique attributes create a sense of place – the feeling that where we are isn’t the same as everywhere else. The sense of place we have about our own hometown comes from the feeling that where we live is special and worth being proud of.
Plants are a key contributor to a sense of place. We enjoy seeing prairies full of wildflowers in the Midwest, palm trees in Florida or California, and cacti in the desert states.
When every town is carpeted with lawns, we lose the opportunity to experience America’s diverse landscapes. We also give up unique features of our own town, replacing them with a flat, homogeneous vista.
In the past, having a well-maintained lawn showed pride in the place where one lived. Today, people with natural yards show pride in their home by gardening with plants that reflect the distinctive character of the region.