Lawnscaping Perth: Water Supply, Gardens, and Scarcity, 1890-1925

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While Perth’s climate has been getting drier for at least four decades, its citizens maintain an ongoing commitment to year-round green lawns and gardens (or “lawnscapes”), and a resistance to water restrictions that is more pronounced than in other Australian state capital cities. This article demonstrates that these features of contemporary Perth emerged from, and continue to bear
the imprint of, an earlier socio-natural system that brought together a town water supply, sprinkler technology, plants, and a multidimensional cultural desire for environmental modification. As important markers of civilization and prosperity, Perth’s emergent lawnscapes assuaged colonial anxieties about the settlement’s status. Conspicuously shaped by collective understandings of imperial urban hierarchies, residents’ lawnscaping projects were also driven by
their bodily experience of sand, heat, and dust: they were in part a response to the challenge of keeping homes and families clean and cool in a city of hot summers and ubiquitous sand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-78
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Urban History
Issue number1
Early online date16 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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