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I remember commenting to my native Utah roommate shortly after I had moved here from the East, "People sure do put a lot of energy into their lawns out here." He shrugged and said he hadn't noticed.

I realized that he had nothing to compare. As far as Utahns are concerned, if a healthy green lawn is desired (and in most neighborhoods, it is virtually required), then one must expect to dedicate a fair portion of one's time and money in nurturing a lawn to grow in a climate that was never meant to support a lawn.In Utah, as well as other drier places, people consider it natural to install miles of sprinkling systems and pour millions of gallons of oftentimes scarce water on grass that will most certainly turn brown if neglected for even a short time.

The appearance of the "LawnNuke" man, dressed in hip boots, gloves, mask and goggles, who runs around spraying tons of herbicides and pesticides in an attempt to administer "Lawn Intensive Care" is as accepted as the sight of the mail carrier and milkman.

Why is all this energy being spent trying to keep Utah yards looking like those in Oregon and Maine? Let's give up the watering and chemicals and recreate our yards to look as nature intended them to look in the desert West.

Let's tell the truth about the effects on our environment of continuing to use all the water and chemicals to keep our expansive yards green.

Look around and notice how the people who have already figured this out plant native trees, bushes, flowers and ground covers that require much less attention. They use rocks, earth and their imaginations to create their own individual, natural landscapes.

Now, before people drive by the house that I live in, I'll admit that it is surrounded by lawn. I'm renting and the lawn is not mine to tear out. When I do own a home again: Watch out, lawn.

George J. Limberakis

Salt Lake City