What's Up With All These Boring Front Yards?

Researchers have been studying the social, ecological, and economic factors behind what they say is the "homogenization" of American lawns...and "keeping up appearances" is only one of them.

What's the Latest Development?


A series of recent studies takes a look at front and back yards in several American cities in an attempt to understand the various factors behind what may be a homogenizing trend across the country. One study, conducted by researcher Will Pearse, examined plant samples in cities including Minneapolis-St. Paul and Miami. Based on preliminary results, he found that although different cities' plant life may appear diverse, evolutionarily speaking they're all fairly closely related. Anthropologist Laura Ogden notes that one reason for this may be big-box garden centers, which are "where most of us go for our plants, the products we use on our plants and lawns, and where we get some of our information about yard management."

What's the Big Idea?

Ogden also points out the social issue: "The front yard is like the living room people have in their house that no one uses." Homeowners' associations play some part in this; a survey done in Phoenix revealed that 20 percent had specific rules about lawns. Often, there are also "legacy" plants and shrubs that were installed with a house and may remain there for decades. The researchers recommend that all these factors be included when considering urban environmental diversity in building and landscaping.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at Pacific Standard

California wildfires death toll climbs to 50

Firefighters in California are still struggling to contain several wildfires nearly one week after they broke out.

(Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Hundreds of people are still missing after three wildfires spread across Northern and Southern California last week.
  • 48 of the 50 deaths occurred after the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
  • On Tuesday night, a fourth wildfire broke out, though it's mostly contained.
Keep reading Show less

Too much sleep results in cognitive decline, researchers find

We know the dangers of too little sleep. Now for the other side of the story.

Photo: Vladislav Muslakvo / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Western University researchers found that sleeping over eight hours per night results in cognitive decline.
  • Oversleepers suffer similar difficulties on certain cognitive tests as those who sleep under seven hours.
  • Not all the news is bad: One night of oversleeping results in a cognitive boost.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

(VL.ru)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less