The wearing of the green

The Thinker by Rodin

Something very odd happened last month. For the first time in sixteen years of living in our house, we got through April virtually dandelion-free.

Truly, it was weird. One year ago, as happened for the previous fifteen years our lawn was engaged in the vital business of growing dandelion seeds and spreading them all over the neighborhood. That’s what it did. One sure sign of spring here on Emerald Chase Drive were the yellow dandelion blossoms carpeting our backyard. Neighbors looked out of their rear facing windows at our lawn and scowled. Because you see, their lawns were perfect with never a dandelion. They could feel their property values plummeting because they happened to live next to us, the dandelion king. How long, they probably wondered, before we put a rusty truck on concrete blocks on our front lawn?

It was not like I never tried to get rid of my dandelions. I made all sorts of valiant efforts but it was like trying to get rid of all the cockroaches in a house in Florida. It appeared to be impossible. I brought a spreader and put out the herbicide at the appropriate times of the year. I filled up my sprayer with weed killer and walked my third of an acre spraying at every weed I saw. I periodically dug up the more egregious weeds by their roots. I limed it at what I thought were the recommended intervals for my soil acidity. None of this worked. My backyard was not intimidated. It knew it could outlast me.

Last year as the dandelions emerged for the fifteenth time I vowed two things. First, instead of hiring a lawn service, I would mow my lawn myself for a change. I would use the money I saved by cutting my own grass to hire a lawn care firm. I figured I needed a professional. For the dandelions were hardly my only lawn issue. There were all sorts of strange weeds out on my back forty. Moss was growing on northern facing slopes. Tree roots were tripping me as I mowed. Still, I was skeptical that a professional service could do much to control my crazy yard.

In my quest for a better lawn, I was not interested in polluting the Chesapeake Bay too. So I found an environmentally friendly lawn firm and opened my checkbook. The person on the other end of the phone told me that fixing a lawn like ours was “a process”. In short, do not expect to see much in the way of results the first year. Once a month or so they came by, did mysterious things to my lawn and left me with bills. I could never see much of a difference.

Now spring is here. In just one year, I have gone from the worst lawn in the neighborhood to having one of the best. I was shocked, surprised and for a while actually giddy. I never liked the weeds and dandelions, but I never lusted after a lush, healthy green lawn before until rather suddenly I had one. It was like I was living in a new neighborhood. I traversed the length of my extensive backyard and could not find a single dandelion peaking through. The grass moreover looked vibrant and healthy. Even the numerous bare spots where giant dandelion patches were last spring were filling in.

Our new lush green lawn was no doubt assisted by many plentiful spring rains. These were the best kind of rains: gentle soaking rains that spanned many days. Moreover, the weather was neither too hot nor too cold, making for ideal growing weather. I now take uncommon pleasure now simply walking out to the curb to retrieve the mail. For the first time since I have been in the house, I want to walk around on my lawn in my bare feet. The grass tickles my feet. I want to find a reclining lawn chair and sit under the tree in our front yard. I want to feel the grass caress the skin between my toes. I want to reach down, not necessarily to pick up a drink, but so my hands can leisurely ruffle through my lush, green grass.

Now that I have a showcase lawn, I feel this urgent desire to keep it a showcase. Despite the expense, I am going to keep the lawn care firm forever. I am now of the opinion that maintaining a nice lawn is one of the cheapest ways to maintain the value of your house. What potential homebuyer could not help but be enticed when they see our house surrounded by our verdant and well manicured green pasture?

As for me pushing the mower, one year was enough for a while. Even as I type, I hear the noise of our lawn crew. To put the crowning touch on our masterpiece, I now need to do is buy a ton of mulch and throw it under and around our trees, shrubs and garden. That should suffice for outdoor exercise for quite a while. Sadly, we have been deficient in the mulching department as well.

I realize that even though our lawn care company is environmentally correct our new and improved lawn is somewhat artificial. Yet, I will continue to invest considerable time, attention and money in my lawn. I want a lush lawn like this forever! It is one of these subtle pleasures that only a prolonged absence can make you fully appreciate. For the first time since I have lived in our house, rather than fretting over my lawn I now plan to spend my leisure hours actually enjoying it. It is a somewhat subtle but wonderful feeling.

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