People buy this shit before they’ve ever spent anytime in the backyard. It’s not like they’re out there all
weekend, playing frisbee and chasing butterflies and pulling weeds, and after a while they think, "Man, it would be nice to have a place to sit down." Or, as one of our commenters said, you’ve been having your annual BLT cookout for years and finally you think, "Wow, I wish we had a way to keep the beer cold out here." No, these are people who think they’ll buy all the stuff first, and then it will suddenly be more fun to go outside and look up at the stars than to stay inside and catch up on Lost.
But it doesn’t work that way. How do I know? The WSJ article also quotes this study
on the behavior of 24 families in Los Angeles vis a vis their use of
their backyards. Read the whole thing for yourself if you need
something to get you good and riled up on a Monday morning; I will
simply quote this:
back yard is a purported center of family leisure, enjoyment, and
privacy, the tracking data from Families 1 to 24 reveal limited uses of
back-of-home spaces by family members, despite the fact that every
sample included many weekend daylight hours and some afternoon and
evening daylight hours, and the weather was generally mild and pleasant
enough to be outside on most days. The most salient trend in the data
is that 13 of the 24 families did not spend any leisure time (neither kids nor parents) in their back yards during the four days per family available for review (Table 1). In quite a few of these cases, no family member so much as stepped into the back yard.
That’s nice. And how about that front lawn–’cause you’ve got to have
some grass, right, for the kids and the dogs? Not so much.
Among the 24
families, activities in front yards were typically confined to arriving
and departing, unloading groceries, and taking out trash. No leisure
activities occurred among 20 of the families beyond fleeting greetings
to neighbors or brief instances (≤30 min, often intermittent) of
children playing with a bike or ball in the front …A few fathers briefly watered
plants or smoked.
Yeah, I can just see that dad, sneaking out for a cigarette, a hose in his hand to make it look like he’s doing something while Mom puts the kids to bed. It’s sad, it’s weird, and I don’t know how to fix it. But what I do know is this: "Outdoor living" is not a trend for the garden industry to jump on. It’ s just another way in which we’re trying to spend ourselves out of the mess we’re in.
Because you don’t need to buy an outdoor lifestyle. If you want to go outside, just go. You have my permission. If you like it, stay out there longer. Free of charge.
And if you don’t like it, I can save you a lot of trouble and assure you that no amount of patio furniture is going to turn you into That Happy, Self-Actualized Guy In His Backyard. Give it up, man. He doesn’t exist.
Well, he does, but he’s just an out-of-work actor, paid by the hour, hoping he’ll make enough money today to finally buy that outdoor propane heater his wife’s been wanting. It’s all an illusion, folks. Kind of like…
Posted by Amy Stewart on June 18, 2007 at 5:02 am, in the category Taking Your Gardening Dollar.