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Welcome to the Twilight of the American Lawn

Lawns around the US are disappearing as houses get bigger
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2016 1:29 PM CDT

(Newser) – “It’s kind of like the American dream has changed,” a real estate broker tells the Boston Globe, which reports that US lawns are in danger of disappearing. According to the Atlantic, the average home size has increased about 50% since the 1970s to 2,500 square feet. Meanwhile, the average yard size has shrunk by more than a quarter. The fact that the average lot size has shrunk 400 square feet in the past five years alone isn't helping. “They want more house," a developer tells the Globe. "They’re looking for more square footage. They don’t care as much about the yard.” There are any number of reasons for the shift: developers maximizing profit, dwindling undeveloped land, a move back toward city centers, people spending less time outside, environmental concerns, etc.

The Atlantic calls the endangerment of the American lawn a "sinister" development. “What does the United States stand for, if not the right to a fertile, springy carpet of turf thicker than the Bradys’ wall-to-wall shag?” it wonders. And the Atlantic isn't alone in its concern. While people are happily sacrificing their own lawns for more square-footage, their neighbors feel like those disappearing lawns are partly theirs. “We used to look out on the grass," a woman tells the Globe after an old home nearby was replaced with a larger one. "Now we look at a wall." “If you let it get eaten away by little pieces, then we’re not living in our beautiful Winchester anymore," says another woman unhappy with a nearby expanding home. (Read more lawn stories.)

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