The Swedish contest is a global venture created to encourage water-saving and environmentally-friendly gardening. Kathleen Murray from Sandford, Tasmania has beat out competition across the world, including countries such as Germany, France, Canada, Croatia, Sweden, the US and the UK.
Murray explains that her lawn is littered with homes and food sources for bandicoots, her chickens and an echidna.
The main reason behind her parched patches of grass? Lack of water. Since Kathleen lives in an area without mains water access, the water collected from rainwater tanks is too precious to waste on creating an aesthetic lawn to look at.
If anything, her lawn provides sanctuary for Australian wildlife. As explained to The Guardian, “I used to think the bandicoots were wildlife of mass destruction invading my lawn, but now I see that they’ve actually liberated me from ever having to mow it again.”
Murray is now the proud owner of an inaugural World’s Ugliest Lawn t-shirt, her prize for winning the competition for 2023.
The competition itself only began 2 years ago in the small Swedish island of Gotland, which often runs out of water during the summertime. In the effort to encourage conserving water, the World’s Ugliest Lawn was born, and water consumption in Gotland has reduced by 5% since.
Mimmi Gibson from the Gotland Municipality Council explains the reasoning behind the competition, “We need to start the conversation on how to save water. It’s a global problem. Sometimes, there’s pressure on people to keep their lawn really green and tidy and lush and it can be easier to say ‘I’m in this competition, I don’t need to water my lawn.’”
When it comes down to it, a ‘gentle way to nudge people into action’ can often be the best way to elicit change. Plus, it’s so fun to win!
For Murray’s lawn, it’s biodiversity encouragement that continues to inspire her ‘ugly lawn’. In addition to the bandicoots and resident echidna, she also has blue-tongue lizards, kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons all visit from the neighbouring nature reserve.
Murray’s final words to the Guardian were about how happy her sad, dead lawn makes her: “It brings me a lot of joy to see all the little creatures who now feel safe to come out during the day in my backyard – they’ve got camouflage, they have happy digging areas. It really enhances my feeling of inner peace knowing that I’m playing a microscopic part to help other things.”
So, is having a traditional turf lawn always the best option for your backyard? A green lawn is pretty and lush, but an ugly lawn is biodiverse, water-saving and way more environmentally-friendly.
Will you enter the World’s Ugliest Lawn competition for 2024?