Wallabies and kangaroos eat on the grass in the middle of the night, avoiding predators. A bandicoot, which resembles an echidna or rodent covered in quills, has dug a tunnel under the backyard fence. Parrots and green lizards also came. The animals turned the lawn, which she never watered or mowed, into their own private Disneyland.
The result was far from the lush green aesthetic most people were hoping for. And last week, she earned the title of “World's Ugliest Lawn.”
The competition was designed to draw attention to water scarcity and invited homeowners from all over the world to compete for this rare title. Contest organizers said last week that out of more than 30 “terrifying and heroic” entries, a panel of six judges chose Murray's Lawn, which “doesn't waste a dusty decimeter watering.” It was announced that. Sweden's Gotland region held a local version of the contest in 2022, before opening global entries in 2023.
After winning the challenge, Murray immediately and proudly displayed his new “World's Ugliest Lawn” certificate on his fridge.
“It's like when a woman decides to stop coloring her hair for the first time, then her hair starts to go gray and then freaks out and starts dying again,” said Murray, 53. gray. “
She hopes others will follow suit.
Jay Rand, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Davis, said water scarcity has become a growing problem in recent decades as populations rapidly grow in areas with limited water supplies. Stated. This has led authorities in arid regions such as California and Australia to limit the amount of water used for landscaping.
“If you want a big, nice green lawn, you need a lot of water,” Rand says.
Murray's lawn looked exactly the opposite. But that's what prompted Dallas-based author and copywriter Leslie Pyle, who was a judge on “The World's Ugliest Lawn,” to give Murray her vote.
“I mean, it's a really bad looking lawn,” Pyle said.
But beyond the photos, Ms Pyle said what drew her attention to Mr Murray's barren garden was a section of the submission detailing how it had fallen into disrepair.
“She captivated us with her story,” Pyle said.
Murray grew up in Victoria, Australia, where his family lived on a farm with cows, horses, and chickens. They owned a small white car with a sticker on it with a message from Murray's mother, Patricia Myers, about saving the planet. They rarely used it, walking or cycling to most places. Myers, who was active in environmental protests in Australia, taught Murray about her sustainability.
“She always raised us to see the big picture, that we are all just stewards of this land,” Murray said.
Murray, who holds a doctorate in forensic soil science, has tried to instill the same lessons in her own children. She and her family currently live in the arid region of Sandford, Tasmania, where they collect rainwater in large tanks.
When I stopped mowing my lawn in 2016, observing the wildlife that was attracted to my lawn became a daily treat.
“It's brought joy into my life that a Netflix subscription could never bring,” she said.
Murray heard about it on the radio and entered the “World's Ugliest Lawn'' contest in December. The contest judges asked for submissions from people who were saving water with dry lawns, and she thought Murray thought: “That's me.”
She said she hopes there are more “ugly” lawns like hers, and that homeowners consider keeping only native plants in their yards and turning off sprinklers.
Along with his award, Murray is wearing the brown shirt he was presented with when he received the award that reads “Proud owner of the world's ugliest lawn.'' This award, which she will be handing out to her next year's winner, is another tribute to her contest. Focus on sustainability.
She has no plans to start watering the land, so she will continue to attract the animals that have made it their own.
“They don’t think my backyard is ugly,” she said. “They think it's beautiful.”