Yard Care

With all the trouble I’ve been having with my lawn, I still don’t regret having the sod laid and all the work I’ve been doing to keep it alive and healthy and weed-free. I’m winning part and losing part, but I’m not sure if there would have been a better choice considering what I started with.

My contractor suggested that I rock the whole weed-infested yard if I didn’t want to have to take care of a lawn, with perhaps a tree in the center of the front yard. I opted out of doing the whole yard, though perhaps half the yard has been covered with rock, such as the ornamental gravel protecting the foundation of my house and garage and filling in the right of way between the sidewalk and the street, as well as all the paths and sidewalks around my property.

The funny thing about gravel is that it isn’t as care-free as one would expect. Since a plastic weed barrier is illegal in parts of Colorado (something to do with interrupting the natural seepage of rain water), what’s left are various grades of a fabric weed barrier. Even with the heaviest option, the Bermuda grass is so aggressive, it pokes right through the fabric. And when it doesn’t poke through, it winds its way from way under the fabric to the outer edges, where — because of that exceptionally long root — it’s impossible to pull or dig out. Then there are the leaves and twigs and other things that fall on the rock. They all have to be blown off, otherwise, they disintegrate and sink down below the rock where they decay, turn acidic, and eventually destroy the fabric. There are lots of other weeds and things that grow in the dirt between the rocks, which they are easy to enough to pull up because of the shallow roots, but when it rains, there could be dozens if not hundreds of those seedlings to gather.

As I mentioned yesterday, I considered turning my yard into a wildflower field — like a mini prairie — but that option brings its own problems, such as weeds and grass that choke out the wildflowers. Eventually you end up with what you started with — Bermuda grass and weeds.

Considering how well Bermuda grass does here, I could have done what a couple of my neighbors do and just water and mow the Bermuda grass. It makes a nice enough lawn for the summer and lies fallow most of the year. Unfortunately, my yard was more weeds than grass, so it would have taken years of hard work to turn the yard into a lawn. Of course, I could have just let it go like one of my neighbors does, and occasionally mow the weeds before they get knee-high, as I did the first years I was here, but even that option isn’t as carefree as it sounds. A good rain, and suddenly, the weeds are shoulder-high, with stalks as thick and tough as saplings.

The only truly care-free yard I ever knew was the place where I’d rented a room before I moved here. The back yard was all concrete, an immense partially covered patio. The front yard was a lush lawn with flowers by the house that the owner never lifted a finger to care for. Perhaps saying it was care-free is a misnomer because, although the owner didn’t do any work, he had an automatic sprinkler system and a hired gardener who came every week and worked for at least a couple of hours, sometimes a lot more.

Come to think of it, I might as well be out there caring for a lawn and my various gardens. It’s as good a way to spend my time as any other.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

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