In Lawns as in Life

Maybe I ought to take a minute to explain my situation.  I realize that my declaration of seeking peace, balance, wholeness, etc., sounds like I eat local, attend a power-yoga class, and wear sustainable clothing.  I am sorry if I have misled anyone.  I live in a meager home supported by a meager salary.  I like to grow vegetables because they are so good for me and taste better than anything I have EVER bought anywhere, but also to supplement my grocery bill.  My garden this year is disappointing.  Last spring I lacked the funds to buy new seed and replenish spent soil.  So I’m not heading out to Whole Foods in my hybrid each week.  Please understand, this quest is all about doing what I can with what I have.  I am simply your average Joe . . . er . . . Jean.

Just over four years ago I moved into my current residence.  I bought it as a small, four-bedroom rambler, which is now a two-bedroom rambler due to the addition of an office/craft room and a dining room.  There is a nice fenced-in back for Barney and Sabbath.  In the front is a yard with a pretty brick planter.  For the first time ever, I am the proud owner of my very own lawn!

There was a lawn at my marriage home, but aside from my occasional watering and mowing, it belonged to my husband.  It was also the envy of the neighborhood.  So, I thought, how hard can it be?  I know all the terms:  fertilizer, de-thatch, water, aerate, over-seed, pre-emergent weed killer.  Oh yeah.  I’ve got this covered. That first summer, I had nice green grass.  I followed the lawn-care calendar.  The following spring, the bottom third of the lawn was yellow and crispy.  I watered.  I watered some more.  But it was dead!

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Watering the Weeds

Since then, I’ve worked out that I had probably over-fertilized the first fall.  The dead grass left the ground unprotected.  The slight slope began to erode and now has lumpy divots.  Where grass failed to take root, weeds had no problem whatsoever.  The best advice I can get from friends and family is to hire a lawn service.  My checkbook says no.

Let me just say this.  I really don’t even agree with having a lawn at all.  Pouring clean water on grass when a large part of our global population has none to drink or bath in is terribly irresponsible.  Sprinkling chemicals that wash into waterways is criminal.  Polluting the air with the petrol-run mower and disturbing the silence of a Sunday afternoon ought to be considered the height of social rejection.

Yet here I am lamenting over my front yard for the sole purpose of fitting in.  What is wrong with this picture?  I have succumbed to the pressure of society in suburbia.  I rate my curb appeal against other plots, and find myself at the bottom of the competition.  I do not run the risk of having Bob up the street stopping by to ask, “You trying to make us look bad with that lawn?”  (I have heard envious neighbor dudes say that to one another.)

Here is my crossroad — I’m not just talking grass here anymore — for lawns and for life.

  • I can continue to water, keep things green and see what comes up, hoping for more grass than weeds.
  • I can dig the whole thing under and start new.
  • I can just spread some new dirt of the top, level it out, then sprinkle grass seed on top and water it well.
  • Or maybe I could rethink the whole thing and begin to plant native plants and ground cover that need less water, minimize the need for fertilizer, and require less mowing.

Why is it the option that excites me is the one that ignites such self-doubt?  Of course, I’m speaking about the last option.  There is so much to learn and a whole new way to think about my front yard.  It’s the area that is right out there for the whole world to see. I run the risk of Neighbor Bob walking down asking, “Sooo . . what have you got going on over here?”  Reading between the lines I would know he was thinking, “There goes the neighborhood.  Damn hippies.”

Seeking peace, balance, wholeness and all things precious in lawns as in life.  Wishing I didn’t worry so much about what everyone else thinks. Doing what I can with what I have.  Working on my own corner of the world because it’s already as much as I can handle. Trying to do the right thing.

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12 thoughts on “In Lawns as in Life

  1. Go for it! Native plants and minimal-water-needs plants can be pretty as well as practical. Some people plant their entire front lawn into veggie and ornamental gardens. Instead of buying how-to books, you can probably find all the info you need at the library or online. Does your community have a garden club? Those people would LOVE to share info (and you might also score some free division plants, cuttings, etc.) I’ll be interested to see how the experiment goes. Good luck!

  2. I know how you feel. Everyday I tell myself, “try to be better today than you were yesterday”. Believe regardless of whether we are talking about a nice lawn or patience or anything for that matter, trying to be a better person today than I was yesterday is a lot of work, but you know what? It’s nice to at least do my best and try:) By the way, don’t you feel better knowing that that is your lawn regardless of how it looks?:)

    1. It is my lawn. You are right. I think I will go out, plant my feet firmly into it with my hands on my hips, and decree it my own. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is a far cry from mowing it as fast as I can so people don’t see that I am the not-so-proud owner of all those dandelions and creeping charlie. Hey, it’s a step in the right direction — better today than yesterday. I like that.

  3. I say forget about Bob the neighbor. It’s not his lawn. He doesn’t get to tell you what you put in it. Go for veggies. My parents grown almost all their own vegetables – they love their flowers, and their trees, but they’ve gone nuts with the veggies. I think they even have an avocado tree! And dandelions are beautiful. Let them take over among the veggies. And if Bob decides to come a-prancing over…grow some poison ivy too 😛

  4. Androgoth

    Gardening is not my strongest point but hey just keep those positives going and don’t worry about the neighbours, one thing you could do with is a compost bin and that way any food scraps, grass cuttings, failed plants etc can be dropped inside, once the bio degrading starts you will have fresh compost for your garden, now how about that for free soil and it will be better than the garden centres too 🙂 As for Bob well he can go and… erm just enjoy your garden in the way that you want, that is what I always do 🙂

    I like your style of posting, it is fresh and
    interesting with a good twist on humour 🙂

    Androgoth

    1. Thank you, my friend! I do compost, so I am on my way. We have a neighbor who ripped up his whole front yard because (I heard) the sewer line was leaking or something. So for the moment I am spared the title of worst lawn-owner on the block!

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