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Lawn Be Gone! June 26, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Gardening, Going Green.
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I should have listened to my son, Taylor, years ago when he suggested we just pour bleach onto the lawn to kill it.  Of course, his motives were not altruistic or even vaguely environmental.  He just hated getting up early. Fast forward ten years.  It seems that all my neighbors are going native, and we’ve finally decided to join them.

My neighbors down the street, Travis and Nichole, were the first to stop the IV drip of precious water to their lawn, which takes up an entire corner lot. This was cause for alarm.  My next door neighbor, Dex, took us aside one day.  “Have you talked to Travis and Nichole lately?” he asked.  “I’m a little concerned,” he added.  “Have you seen their lawn?  I think you might want to go round and check on them.”  I knew this was planned obsolescence on their part, so I played dumb.

You have to understand that Dex takes pride in still doing his own yard work.  He’s retired.  He wears the weekly chore of mowing, edging, and raking like a badge of honor.  Maybe that’s because he was invested in Boy Scouts for so many years.

Dex confided that when someone’s lawn looked as bad as Travis and Nichole’s did, it was possible that something “had happened” to them.  He was giving me permission to be the first one to discover their decomposing bodies.  When I finally told him what they were up to, he looked relieved, then puzzled.  Why would someone want to roll up the green carpet that is the hallmark of suburban living?

We’ve decided to leave the lawn out front alone – for now.  For one thing, our mower is almost new.  We traded in the old gas hog two years ago, when the city encouraged people to upgrade to an electric mower for $100.  We now have a mint-green lawn mower that looks like it was made by Fischer-Price.  It doesn’t roar and belch gas fumes.  Instead, it contentedly hums along for a week a time before requiring a recharge.  I feel like a model citizen whenever I’m out front using it.  Look at me!  I’m saving the planet!

The back lawn is an entirely different matter.  I’m tired of filling in the bare spots between the stepping stones with plugs of grass like a highly trained technician does at regular meetings of the “Hair Club for Men.”  We have a large patio.  But beyond the arbor, anything goes, as opposed to anything grows.

My approach is to simply rip out the grass and spread the dirt around like one big zen garden.  Bring in a load of decomposed granite and plug in a fountain.  Oh, and I’ll take some of those native plants too, the ones with the large saber-like leaves that you could become impaled on.  Voila!  

My husband is appalled by my lack of foresight.  He feels the need to purchase a hardcover book at Vroman’s so he can pour over gorgeous photographs of other people’s gardens.  Most likely, other rich people’s gardens.  People for whom price is no object.  Then he wants to spend his spare time (as in, I have no time to spare) working on a master plan.  Then…you get the drift.  At that rate, I can just wait for global warming to do the job.

Nichole actually took a class in how to plant a native garden and carefully selected the plants that are just now starting to fill in.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Talent borrows, genius steals.  No, I didn’t say that.  That’s T. S. Elliot, and I think he was onto something.  Our other neighbors, Stuart and Brenda, showed us their new backyard, which is awash in pea gravel and square pavers that float serenely in a sea of round black pebbles.  It helps that Stuart is a film set designer and has an amazing eye, along with a cache of props he’s collected off of TV shows.  I have Cost Plus.

Let’s just do it!  I think Richard is starting to budge.  I reminded him of how much it would cost in gas alone just to drive to Vroman’s to buy a book. He’s starting to cave…To Be Continued.

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