Honey, I Shrunk the Lawn

July 20, 2016

With the American house growing — by some 50 percent over the last four decades — and lot sizes shrinking (by 13 percent over the comparable period), something has had to give. According to CityLab.com, that would be the lawn. It's 26 percent smaller than it used to be.

CityLab reports a variety of reasons for the receding green. First and foremost, predictably, Americans faced with a choice of a bigger house or a bigger lawn will choose the bigger house. Writer Andrew McGill also points to "a mix of drought-conscious environmentalism and shift in social mores" putting pressure on the space.

"Americans are voluntarily buying houses with smaller yards," McGill says. Reasons he considered but found not to pan out in his research included an increase in attached homes, but he found 90 percent of new homes sold in 2015 were detached, and regional availability of cramped lots, but most new houses are being built where there's plenty of room, across the South and the Great Plains.

The shrinking lawn becomes an "economic compromise," McGill explains, taking the size hit so buyers can have larger houses by making the difference up with lower land costs for smaller lots.

Source: "The Shrinking of the American Lawn," CityLab.com (July 6, 2016)