IMG 6897Keep that yard clean! This social imperative began in the 1800’s, when tidying the yard was considered an essential civic behavior, and continued through the 1900’s, when a vast swath of vibrant green lawn became evidence of one’s high social status. Now in the 21st century, however, perhaps it’s time we give this old social norm some new thought.

One big thing to reconsider is the idea that all the leaves that fall on the ground beneath a mature tree should be raked up and removed. As it turns out, this practice is actually not beneficial to our landscapes, for several reasons.

Since I have the audacity to call this blog “Good Landscapes” and to offer advice for creating such places, I think I’d better start out by defining what I mean by good.

“Before the current age of technology, people all over the world protected themselves from the extremes of weather and climate by working with nature. They shaped their homes and landscapes to minimize nature’s harshness and make the most of its beneficence.

“However, around the middle of the twentieth century, we modern humans adopted a new comfort-enhancing process, one that has continued essentially unchanged since that time. In total innocence, and without any intent to do harm, we ignored basic, well-understood methods to prevent heat from accumulating in our houses. Instead we put our faith in strategies that would remove the heat after it had already accumulated.”