The Quest for a Perfect Lawn Leads to Insanity
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That living carpet of green velvet in front of my house – – is it really mine? I never thought I’d have one of those manicured suburban lawns, much less become a maniac in its defense. In fact, I used to disapprove of them.
How did this happen? The insanity built up slowly.
It started with the ratty lawn my house came with. The unsightly bare spots gnawed at me, and one corner resembled a track for dirt bikes.
I tried and tried to spruce it up with organic homemade fertilizers. I cut the grass with a mulching mower that was also battery-powered so it wouldn’t wake the neighbors.
I never, ever dreamed I’d have a team of landscapers leaf-blowing and blasting gas-powered mowers on my eighth of an acre. Then, it happened.
My descent began before that. First, I found professionals to replace the grass with turf. For at least a few years, I’d have a superior lawn.
But since I was digging up the old lawn, I reasoned, why not install a sprinkler system? That way, I wouldn’t waste so much water irrigating the entire street with my old conventional sprinkler.
Note to environmentalists reading this: No need to tell me that dried-out brown grass usually isn’t dead. I know that. It’s just, it’s just …
At that point, there was no turning back. A friend recommended a lawn-cutting service. It didn’t cost much, and I could be away for a couple of weeks and not worry about returning to an unruly grass jungle.
Next thing I knew, another service was putting down “environmentally friendly” applications designed to fertilize and control pests and crabgrass. Did I hire these people? Guess I did.
And so now I have this perfect lawn. But it needs defending.
I love dogs. I’ve long thought that dogs could do no wrong until I had the flawless lawn. I provide them shade and a soft bed of wet grass to roll around in. I’m cool with that. But while the canines are at it, they figure, why not take a leak?
Of course, blame for the dog pee problem rightly belongs at the other end of the leash — the dog walker. My neighborhood is full of otherwise courteous people who’ve made an etiquette carve-out for where their dogs relieve themselves. I’ve held back on installing one of those please-don’t-let-your-mutt- use-my-garden-as-a-latrine signs. But dog owners ought to know that the first property their pet uses should be their own. Or their pooch can go in the woods or at the curb.
We know that dogs like to mark certain trees and shrubs with urine. However, the dog who is expected to hold it in while indoors on the oriental rug can hold it in until he reaches a neutral location. Really, do I have a right to leave scorch marks on others’ lawns because I don’t want to properly dispose of my laundry bleach?
I’m getting personal here, so let’s move on.
I have complete respect, even some envy, for neighbors who’ve replaced their lawns with low-maintenance wildflowers and native grasses. As for those who let their front lawns run wild with barren patches, weeds and whatnot, that’s their right.
Furthermore, if I lived in an arid part of the country, I’d skip the lawn altogether. But I get lots of rain. There is a reason the golf green was invented in Scotland and not in Sicily.
Ecologist Michael Pollan wrote, “A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.”
He is not wrong. Once a carefree nature girl, I now govern my lawn with an iron grip, there’s no denying. It’s insanity, and I own it.