Kiwis encouraged to get amongst ugly lawn competition originating in Gotland, Sweden

With summer water shortages starting to bite across New Zealand, Kiwis are being encouraged to embrace the dry brown grass and get amongst a viral competition to see who has the ugliest lawn.   

The World's Ugliest Lawn competition was created by Region Gotland in Sweden after the success of the Gotland's Ugliest Lawn competition in 2022.   

The motivation behind the competitions is water conservation, which they call "the most worthy cause in the world".  

Region Gotland Brand Director, Mimmi Gibson told AM Gotland's competition began after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and an influx of tourists arrived on Gotland, Sweden's biggest Island.   

The rush of visitors put a big strain on local resources forcing them to think outside the box about how they could preserve water.   

"Our politicians said, 'we have to do something because we almost ran out of fresh water'," Gibson said.   

Thus, the competition was born, and Gotland residents were encouraged to cease watering their gardens in pursuit of the prestigious prize of ugliest lawn.   

AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green asked Gibson whether the spike in dry brown lawns had impacted tourism to Gotland.   

"They still love this island, we have so much nice nature," Gibson said.   

She said people were quickly getting used to the norm of beautiful lawns becoming ugly.   

Gibson said the competition had encouraged residents to abide by irrigation bans which are common on the island.   

"You're a climate hero by not doing anything so your neighbours kind of accept it in a different way," she said.   

After the success of 2022's competition, a new competition was created to find the ugliest lawn in the world.  

2023's competition was won by Kathleen Murray is Tasmania, who was praised for the "deep dry divots created by three wild bandicoots, and not one dust-covered decimeter is waster on watering".   

Kathleen Murray from Tasmania won the award in 2023.
Kathleen Murray from Tasmania won the award in 2023. Photo credit: Gotland Region

"For that, the planet, and its dwindling stockpiles of life-giving liquid, thanks you," Region Gotland's website reads.   

"We would love to have entries from New Zealand, please go ahead," said Gibson.  

She made clear that entries are accepted year-round to account for different seasons.   

She encouraged people to send photos or videos of their ugly lawns, alongside some information about the lawn and why they choose not to water it, to  

People can also post their lawns on Instagram with the hashtag #WorldsUgliestLawn.   

"You have to promise not to use any water on it," Gibson emphasised.   

Wellington is currently under level two water restrictions which bans the use of sprinklers and irrigation in gardens, a pain for some but also a great opportunity to get started on uglifying your lawn.   

Marcus Norström, the winner of the competition Gotland’s Ugliest Lawn 2022.
Marcus Norström, the winner of the competition Gotland’s Ugliest Lawn 2022. Photo credit: Gotland Region