A brown and arid scrubland of a lawn is not something many gardeners would brag about.
But that is exactly the kind of yard competition organizers in Sweden were looking for when they launched the prize for the “World’s Ugliest Lawn.”
People from around the world were invited to post pictures of their dehydrated grass to social media in a bid to scoop the dubious accolade.
The intention, according to those behind the project, was to raise awareness of “saving water on a global scale by changing the norm for green lawns.”
The competition was launched in collaboration with Hollywood actress and environmentalist Shailene Woodley, who called the contest “an excellent way to influence people to use less water.”
Lawns, which can require large amounts of water to maintain, are coming under increasing scrutiny as climate change makes periods of drought more frequent and more intense.
The global initiative was launched on the official website for Gotland in Sweden. Explaining the rationale on its website, it said: “Huge amounts of water are used to water lawns for aesthetics. As the world gets warmer, water scarcity is a growing problem.”
Water scarcity in urban areas is projected to affect up to 2.4 billion people by 2050, according to UNESCO data.
“By not watering lawns for aesthetic reasons, we can protect the availability of groundwater,” the competition organizers said.
The unlikely title has been awarded to Kathleen Murray who lives in Sandford in Tasmania, Australia.
According to organizers, Murray’s lawn “boasts deep, dry divots created by three wild bandicoots (small marsupials endemic to Australia) and not one dust-covered decimeter is wasted on watering.”
Murray said in the press release about her triumph: “I am terribly proud! I knew I would have my 5 minutes of fame; even if it was for having the ugliest lawn on the planet! I am now liberated of ever mowing my lawn again.”
Murray is now in possession of a certificate and a recycled T-shirt proclaiming her as “proud owner of the world’s ugliest lawn.”
Organizers added: “Gotland aims to save water by changing the green lawn norm and showing Sweden and the world that sustainable behavior doesn’t have to be dull.”
The competition followed a similar one for the ugliest lawn in Gotland in 2022.