Rain Follows the Lawn

A letter to the editor in this morning’s Albuquerque Journal has removed the scales from my eyes:

The City Council recently turned down a proposal to restrict the rights of homeowners’ associations to require grass in residential landscapes. Grass has been made to seem like a culprit because of the amount of water it uses in comparison with some other plants, yet it is one of the best oxygen producers we have. In a city that is continuing to add humans who require oxygen for survival, doesn’t it seem contrary to common sense to restrict plants that produce oxygen?

And it’s not only oxygen. Apparently rain also follows the lawn:

Many studies show that the humidity produced by plants attracts rain. If we continue to remove large areas of green plants and replace them with large paved areas — gravel included — we reduce the capacity of our entire urban area to produce the humidity required to attract rain.

This effect is easy to see, as the rain clouds daily build into promising forms and simply pass us by. If we are concerned about our water future, shouldn’t we be trying to entice rain?

What time does Lowes open? I’m off to get some Weed and Feed. No time to waste!

update: A previous version of this post had a picture of a lawn care product. Some people interpreted that to mean the letter to the editor had been written by the lawn care company. That was not the case. It was written by a Journal reader named Debbie Butcher.


  1. Reading newspaper ‘Letters to the Editor’ can be a truly chilling experience. I live in a small town on the East Coast and in our local paper there is hardly a day goes by without a letter just as wacky as the one you quote here. The chilling part is not just the confusion and ignorance but the fact that the people who write these letters are utterly confident in their views, to the extent of writing them out for all to see and signing their names to them.

  2. Fred –

    A chilling corollary, if I may criticize my own industry, is newspapers’ willingness to publish said letters.

  3. I wish it were just the letters. All points of view shall be deemed to have equal value, unto and probably beyond the heat death of the universe. So there.


    John, there’s a useful IMHO discussion starting over at MT’s blog, which I hope you can weigh in on. The basic question is how do we go about retiring the “leading the dice”/”no individual weather event can be ascribed” climate change meme, and of course with what do we replace it.

  4. Pingback: The week that was, 8/1-7/2010 | Chance of Rain

  5. Kinda reminds me of that guy in Pasadena who claimed that cutting back on landscape watering would deplete the aquifers because of the recharge that results from overwatering. We had a rather lively discussion on here last year over that one.
    Although to his credit, he at least had a colorable argument. This is just plain silly.

  6. Wow – perhaps these ass-clowns should go back and read about the myth of rain following the plow, which produced the Dust Bowl! Unbelievable. Propaganda is everywhere – expose it! Good job John, for spotting this.

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