For a man raised on the South Dakota prairie, my Dad was inordinately fond of trees. He was known to snag seedlings out of ditches and bring them home to install in the backyard. The result after 55 years is a whole lot of very big trees and a lawn that shaded for much of every day. Side effect: our lawn has become increasingly patchy. My mother has long fretted about this, and a couple of years ago I had a lawn company come out to treat the grass with fertilizers and weed killers. My nephew discouraged this. “If you kill all the crabgrass, you won’t have anything green left back there.”
Wise beyond his years, my nephew.
Two years later, the lawn people having come and gone half a dozen times for regular maintenance, large swaths of the yard are reduced to compacted dirt. But at least there’s no crabgrass.
This is not of great concern to me, as I have always hated grass. I find its uniformity rather bland and it requires a great deal of fussing. It has to be mowed, for instance. Not only is this a tiresome waste of time that would be better spent weeding the flower beds, it has been my sad experience that no lawn mower invented has ever started in two consecutive instances. Lawn mowers break down just sitting in the shed. You’ll have them tune up at the small engine place, mow the lawn once, put it back in the shed and the next week it will be dead as a stone. For years, the arrival of lawnmower season was reliably greeted by tears of frustration and my mother’s plaintive suggestion that “perhaps we’d be better off in an apartment.”
Let the lawn drive me from my own property? Ha! NEVER! Last year I found a guy who comes to mow the lawn once a week. He drives one of those big machines with levers instead of a steering wheel and he gets the whole place done in about 15 minutes. As far as I can tell, he has shed no tears over my lawn. (However, my mother insists that he shakes his head a little irritably while mowing, irked at having to maneuver around my proliferating garden beds.
At my mother’s urging, I reseed the bare patches every.single.year. I dig up the ground, rake it over smooth, generously scatter seed, cover with a light layer of soil and water thoroughly twice a day. Watch the tiny seedlings sprout. See them proliferate. Observe them wither and die. Stomp around mad for the rest of the summer.
This year I have a new plan. I’m going to cover every bare spot I see with a charming garden gnome.
That won’t be creepy at all.