Some people idealize the perfectly maintained lawn. They aim for a lush green color, with meticulously trimmed blades of grass and certainly no dry spots. Kathleen Murray has the opposite goal, and it’s earned her a free second-hand shirt and world accolades.
Murray has been named the latest winner of The World’s Ugliest Lawn competition, which was originally launched as a regional contest in Gotland, a Swedish island located about 60 miles southeast of the mainland in the Baltic Sea. The region regularly experiences low groundwater water levels, and officials strongly encourage its 61,000 year-round residents to conserve water, even implementing summer watering bans.
With the contest recently expanding globally, entries have been received from not only other European countries, but also from places like the United States and Australia.
In Australia, Kathleen Murray’s Tasmania yard is barren, with dried up plants, lots of dirt, no attempts at watering, and a series of divots caused by bandicoots, small marsupials native to the country.
Murray told ABC, “Three wild bandicoots moved in and they started to terraform my lawn back to the way it was before a house was built on it. I call them my wildlife of mass destruction, my WMDs. I used to think they’d invaded my lawn, but then I realized they’d actually liberated me from ever having to mow it ever again.”
That’s good, seeing as she also said her ex took the lawnmower when he moved out.
After a panel of judges from Gotland, Ireland, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand examined the footage of unsightly lawns across the world, they agreed Murray was the winner. This brought her praise from water supply-minded citizens of the world, as well as a secondhand shirt reading “Proud Owner of The World’s Ugliest Lawn,” donated by the last winner.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in the U.S. alone, nearly a third of all residential water use goes to landscape irrigation, amounting to about 9 billion gallons per day. To save water, the agency recommends adding native plant species, which mostly only require average rainfall to survive.
The ugliest lawn contest organizers also point to UNESCO data projecting that urban water scarcity will impact between 1.7 and 2.4 billion people by 2050. That’s up from 930 million in 2016.
Contest organizers hope their competition helps tackle the issue, while promoting a bit of fun.
They say, “The World’s Ugliest Lawn-challenge is our way to inspire positive change globally and show that sustainability doesn’t have to be boring!”