So, a few things.
1) We actually have a lot of land in the USA....so why not?
2) It's tough for kids to play catch with the dogs or with pops with all the trees and underbrush left around.
3) God only knows what kind of animals & bugs can lurk around in that kind of shit.
4) Dirt + torrential rain = mud pit. Not very attractive.
1. And make the entire US a uniform landscape of Levittown with pink flamingoes gracing the front lawn of every house.
2. Many municipalities with vision and foresight have poured their resources into creating excellent public parks with playing fields and playgrounds.
3. tsk, tsk, typical man vs. nature where man has to prevail in controlling nature attitude. Even a well tended lawn can harbor ticks - it's an inevitable fact of life especially here in the Northeast. Might as well reintroduce local vegetation that supports mini-ecosystem and enjoy discovering with the kids how full of life the backyard is. The very fact that you use the term 'bugs' to describe all insect life I find it a lost opportunity.
4. A little ingenuity in planting and ever slight manipulation of ground plane can do wonders to drainage. Not all ground surfaces not covered by lawn has to be dirt. Then again, I have not visited Oklahoma therefore I do not know if the term dust bowl is an understatement.
In deference to desert dwellers, pouring a bunch of lava rocks (interesting how they're also found in propane barbecue grills) on the yard and calling it done isn't exactly a workable solution for the rest of the country.
So, if it's not grass, what else is a civilized society to do with the ground surrounding thier abodes??!?
I hear ya.
Think locally, act globally.
I found clovers make just as attractive groundcover (they flower too) in lieu of lawn in my area of country, and especially at my property which is predominantly a north-facing slope where maintaining a lawn can be often costly and a losing battle. Add to that pachysandra borders accented with ferns and forsythia bush and I have 90% of the 1-acre grounds covered.