Cape May County’s Best Lawns, or, “A Lawn, In this Heat?”

By Collin Hall

A grassy “lawn,” from the middle-English word “launde,” was once a preposterous idea. A lawn’s upkeep required servants with scythes to maintain the grass, or hungry livestock to do the trimming. For most of history, the common man couldn’t be fussed with a grassy, well-kept lawn; there were too many mouths to feed and certainly too many useful crops to grow to be worth the bother.  

Grassy lawns were relegated to the wealthy European elite until Thomas Jefferson, himself an avid gardener, copied the style at his estate in Monticello, Virginia.  

Pennington, a lawn company that sells inexpensive lawn products to the common man, produced a long timeline that shows how the high-and-mighty lawn came to America. To put it simply: lawns were too intense a resource drain to be realistic for most people throughout most of history, and it was only through modern convenience that most homeowners can expect to maintain a beautiful front yard.  

My neighbors will tell you that I haven’t mowed the lawn in two weeks. I need to carve the time out this coming Sunday, and I’m praying for a sub-90-degree day. I, along with my girlfriend and roommates, do our best to fight against the entropy of an encroaching outdoor world. We pick weeds, mow the lawn when needed, and do our best to keep the tomato plants alive. It rains often enough that plant life, not death, is the default in Cape May County.  

But over in Nevada, grassy laws have been outlawed in some parts of the state. It simply takes too much water to maintain “nonfunctional” laws, and water is a precious resource in desert-clad Nevada. Lawns come at a high cost.  

We’re lucky to have beautiful laws all around Cape May County. Here’s a list of the best lawns that I’ve come across; just keep in mind that I’m not all-knowing or all-seeing!  

North Wildwood City Hall in early fall.
  • North Wildwood City Hall. I cover North Wildwood’s council meetings for the Herald, so I see the building more than perhaps I’d like. I’m always wowed by the city hall’s beautifully kept grass, abundant planters, seasonally appropriate flower beds, and attention to detail that is genuinely impressive. Their gardens are so colorful that I’d recommend swinging by the city hall just to peek.  
  • Beach Plum Farm: The overall aesthetic of the farm is so impressive that it’s easy to assume that form completely swallows function. But Beach Plum marries aesthetic with actual crop output. The farm has vegetables marching down beautiful supports, lovely rows of herbs, and sights worthy of the farm’s local fame.  
Beach Plum farm looks like an enchanted witch’s hut.
  • Hereford Inlet: This historical lighthouse hides a beautifully-kept garden and lawn behind it. There are enchanting walkways that weave through the small property; people come year after year to see what the garden looks like.  
  • First United Methodist Church in Court House: This historical church boasts a beautiful lawn that contrasts well against the old white church building. Definitely an aesthetic highlight in Court House.  
The mighty, pristine white, First United Methodist Church in Court House
  • Rotary Park in Cape May: Rotary Park, a relatively new addition to Cape May, has a beautifully kept lawn and many perky bushes that serve as the backdrop for many concerts and municipal events. The park would be half of what it is today without the careful manicure it gets from the grounds team.  

So when you see a beautiful lawn, remember: these things are a historical anomaly, and we’re lucky to enjoy them. Some places have decided that the cost just isn’t worth it, and maybe that calculation will be made more broadly in the future. But for now? I’m glad for all the landscaping.