28 September 2010

places: Fake Lawns at NMHU

We recently road tripped our way out to New Mexico and stopped over in Las Vegas, a really cute old town on the eastern edge of the mountains near Santa Fe. It's home to some killer hot springs, a neat old hotel from the late 19th century perched above an old-fashioned town square, and a tiny university called New Mexico Highlands University.

Here's a shot of the university campus. Check out those big green lawns in the middle of the dry desert. It took me walking past them to realize they are synthetic turf!

Almost all of the campus "lawns" are covered with this fake grass.

It's bound to be low maintenance in some ways, namely water conservation. And from a distance it looks nice, but it's really weird. Are we so obsessed with big green lawns in this culture that we will go to such extents? What's the point? I'm sure that Olmstead and other early landscape architects and gardeners would never have guessed that the pastoral garden style would be taken so far.

I was recently listening to a dialogue in which two Brasilians were talking about how strange it is that our American college campuses have lawns. To sit around in grass, I guess, is just culturally out of the norm for them. Lawns are full of ants and weird scratchy things. The speakers were saying that in Brasil, they have gardens, with plants and paths and sitting places - not lawns. Ah...Brasil.

In the meantime, I think I applaud NMHU for reducing their water use? But still, strange.


Tina Poe said...

That is strange! I'd rather see a xeriscape garden than a fake lawn.

Abbey said...

I have the same seniment: odd but ok ... I guess. Maybe it was a donation from an alum with connections to the synthetic grass manufacturer.

RBell said...

Were the garden beds full of plastic flowers and silk shrubs?

ESP said...

Hi Lee.
Can you imagine how much it costs us to keep the Austin capital grounds their lush green all year round? It has got to be staggering, and I hate to think how much water is required?
These guys have the right idea, albeit such a large area is a bit weird.

Wouldn't it be cool for Austin to have the first "Capitol" xeriscaped grounds! How progressive would that be?


Anonymous said...

Yeah, it is strange. And embarrassing.
Hello from Little LV. So yeah. They're working on it.
As the story goes, a past campus president-who shall remain unnamed, was good buds with someone who was in the turf business. Yep. But he's long gone. If you look around the campus, they're slowly pulling it out and replacing it with native grasses and flowers.

Lee said...

I'll have to come back and tour around the campus sometime. We loved little LV!