"Hey, you hooligans – get off the dang yard!" For a mere $30, it could be you shouting that oath, as you glared at rats and pigeons scampering about on your grass-covered A/C unit.
That's right: Somebody's made a lawn for air conditioners. And why does this strange urban accessory exist? Credit the good-bad dichotomy of the standard window-mounted unit: To people inside apartments, it is a miracle box that makes stifling summers bearable. But to folks looking at a building sprouting dozens of A/C butts, it can be a detriment to an otherwise pleasant-looking neighborhood. Can't somebody fix the unsightly appearance of these devices, whose popularity will only increase in a future of insufferable heat waves?
Strutting over the horizon comes Paul Genberg of Minneapolis and Brooklyn's Daniel LiCalzi, two designers with a revolutionary, "patent-pending" fix for the visual pollution of air conditioners. It's a square of fake grass, customizable to multiple sizes, that sticks via earth magnets to the top of an A/C unit. Presto – what was once a slab of hot, dull metal is now a verdant gateway to nature (albeit one made from plastic, and invisible to anybody passing below).
You won't find the so-called "Babilawn" in hardware stores yet, as it's undergoing funding on Kickstarter. The name is a play on the glorious hanging gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and to believe Genberg and LiCalzi their shrunken backyard is just as amazing. "Babilawn may actually even improve the efficiency of your air conditioner," they write, "as it provides shade from the sun so your air conditioner doesn't have to work so hard to be cool." Please note that LiCalzi and Genberg are still "working on a way to quantify this savings of energy."
Aside from solving, to a minimal degree, the hunger-lust of city dwellers for something resembling a lawn (concrete patios don't count, New York), Babilawn will also allegedly minimize dripping noises and prevent birds from making nests on your unit. Its creators are encouraging people to donate to their cause with a range of charming items that can go on the lawn, like miniature white-picket fences, ersatz daisies and even garden gnomes. If you're afraid the next microburst will fill the neighborhood with spinning, eye-slicing discs of fake turf and gnomes, don't fret – the designers assert that "we have tested Babilawn through heat waves and blizzards and it's never even budged."
Here are a few views of the lawn; more images are posted at Flickr: