Kathleen Murray, residing in Sandford, Tasmania, proudly clinched the title of the first World’s Ugliest Lawn competition, a global initiative stemming from a Swedish contest promoting water-saving and eco-friendly gardening. Murray’s lawn resembles a moonscape, marked by bandicoot-dug craters, withered grass, and sun-dried plants, showcasing the challenges of maintaining greenery in an arid environment.
Facing competition from dry lawns worldwide, including Germany, France, Canada, Croatia, Sweden, the US, and the UK, Murray’s lawn emerged victorious. Living in an area without access to mains water, Murray relies on precious rainwater collected in tanks, making the preservation of water a top priority. Bandicoots and an echidna in her yard have contributed to the unique landscape, and Murray humorously describes her backyard as resembling a real-life Hungry Hungry Hippo game.
The competition originated in Gotland, Sweden, prompted by the island’s near water crisis. Gotland’s municipality devised the contest to raise awareness and encourage water conservation. Mimmi Gibson, representing the municipality, emphasized the competition’s role in turning participants into climate heroes by simply not watering their lawns. The global initiative, gaining attention through media coverage, aims to address the pressing issue of water scarcity.
Murray, initially dismissing criticism of her lawn, now embraces the biodiversity benefits of her laid-back gardening style. Various wildlife, including blue-tongue lizards, kangaroos, wallabies, and pademelons, visit from the neighboring nature reserve. Murray sees her approach as an extension of the reserve, emphasizing that she prefers not to water her lawn, allowing nature to take its course.
The jury, comprising individuals like Diarmuid Gavin, a garden designer and broadcaster, deliberated for nearly two hours before declaring Murray’s lawn the world’s ugliest. Gavin hopes the competition sparks a shift away from traditional green lawns, promoting climate-appropriate gardens and encouraging responsible land stewardship.
Murray, reflecting on the choice between water conservation for agricultural needs and engaging in lawn competitions, finds joy in providing a haven for creatures in her backyard. She sees her actions as a microscopic contribution to the greater goal of supporting the environment.