Does Grass like to be mown?

its me

I first came across this ques­tion whilst walk­ing down a lazy road on a warm sun­ny day. There were three peo­ple employed by the coun­cil to cut the grass using a vari­ety of devices. I first won­dered what each sliced blade cost the tax pay­er and won­dered if this was a good use for the plan­ets finite resources; a very human; if not British response; but I also won­dered if the grass liked being cut. That chem­i­cal giv­en off by the slashed blades is a dis­tress sig­nal; warn­ing its fel­low grass of what fate it has suf­fered. Does the recip­i­ent grass rush nutri­ents to the roots? Does the local fawn­er mourn the grass’s cuts? Is the grass cry­ing bio­chem­i­cal­ly from the pain: or laugh­ing? Does it even feel pain or have a sense of humour?


With­in the ques­tion lies much deep­er sig­nif­i­cance; Mow­ing; the process of div­ing plant mat­ter for increased aes­thet­ic plea­sure; is an attempt to per­fect what we feel is imper­fect. It stops the land chang­ing; con­trol­ling the land­scape and per­pet­u­at­ing a grass based envi­ron­men­tal sheer: A phys­i­cal reminder of man’s per­ceived pow­er and mas­tery over nature. It’s also an act of des­per­a­tion; using expen­sive man­u­fac­tured tools to try and con­trol the envi­ron­ment both in terms of time, ener­gy and resources. Per­haps the grass be laugh­ing at us when it spurts out its smell? It’s more ancient, adapt­able, ele­gant and majes­tic than any tor­tur­ous tool con­ceived of by its ape agi­ta­tor.


Grass as a species will no doubt out­live our own. Could we write genet­ic mes­sages into it; have we already? Mankind can use incred­i­ble amounts of ener­gy, resources and time to tem­porar­i­ly trans­form a desert into grass­land, but, like a can­dle it’s very rare that human behav­iour can enhance sys­tems part­ly and eter­nal­ly beyond its com­pre­hen­sion and the pol­lu­tion cre­at­ed in ter­raform­ing out­weighs any pos­i­tive to plan­et one hun­dred to one.


If left to its own devices, Grass will be replaced by oth­er, more com­plex plants and ani­mals. By cut­ting it; by forc­ing it to live by human rules, by enforc­ing per­pet­u­al infan­cy, we can per­pet­u­ate the grass’s exis­tence; but to what end? if it’s long, it will be cut. If it’s dry, it will be watered, if it’s dead it will be replaced, if it’s got no nutri­ents, it will be neutered. The grass real­ly has very lit­tle con­trol over its own des­tiny:  how­ev­er under these human con­di­tions it can thrive as a het­ero­ge­neous crop: But would the grass rather be under natures rules instead? Can, and does grass com­mit sui­cide? Grass is not meant to live for­ev­er; it’s part of a cycle of cre­ation, renew­al and replace­ment; it’s part of a big­ger bios­phere that uses grass for a base for oth­er plants. Grass is a means to an end; not an end in its self.


We can keep the sick­ly lit­tle blades going for years. Does the grass like hav­ing oth­er weeds out com­pete it? Well, in the long term yes: because its ben­e­fi­cial for the grass. Can you imag­ine a plan­et cov­ered by noth­ing but grass? Would the grass not just suck up all it could from the planet’s soil and find its self in the long term lack­ing what it needs to sur­vive? More com­plex plant sys­tems and ani­mals have the abil­i­ty to spread nutri­ents and offer oth­er advan­tages like deep earth nutri­ent extrac­tion; the grass has a role to play: it does not fear change, or death: its ances­tors will also be grass; danc­ing eter­nal­ly around their big­ger broth­er plants.