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 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.


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