Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer in the Burbs

Some things about life in the suburbs in the summer are sweetness itself: kids in the neighborhood to play with, catching fireflies in the dark, open invitations from friendly neighbors to backyard bonfires (neatly contained in fire pits, naturally), other parents outside on the lookout when you need to be in the kitchen or doing laundry. The fact that the kids can bike to many places is swell, so is the private pool down the street where they have been taking swimming lessons for over a decade.

Then there is the dark side of suburbia, the one you never consider before you make the big move to the medium-sized house with the big back yard. It is known as...the front lawn. The obsession of many an otherwise kind-hearted, well-meaning individual. You have to understand, that in towns in the Midwest, where houses are more typical than apartment complexes and where there is rarely ever a ban on watering, the state of one's lawn is considered a mark of one's character. Pretty is as pretty manicures one's yard, truly.

Sadly and sorrowfully, I have succumbed to the mental condition known as "grass mania" in which the victim becomes preternaturally occupied with making grass grow in that stupid spot where never grass grew and making the rest of the lawn a weird, homogeneous green, devoid of any curls, puffs or spikes. I really had other things to worry about up until now, small children will do that to you.

The discussions men have about chemical options for grass, the need to water the lawn or the neat little edging they like to torture themselves with on a perfectly nice Sunday afternoon, rolled off my back like so much dandelion fluff blowing away. Besides, Pierre always made sure that a certain percentage of our lawn was green. To where did this carefree attitude disappear? Blame it on peer pressure, Pierre spending more time at work with his new job,  and most likely, the poison distributors known as lawn fertilizer guys. If you live in the city, you may not be acquainted with the chemical lawn spray salesman. He comes right up to your door and shakes his head in dismay and disapproval at the sorry state of your lawn,  then promises the glory of a perfect green space between your front doorstep and the street in exchange for one low, low monthly payment. I have, for years, had to deal with these guys, since I seem to be the only adult in the house when they call. My answer has always been; "no thank you, we take care of that ourselves." 

As the bald patches grew balder, my confidence began to waver. I took things in hand this year and planted grass seed. I started asking around; "how do you keep your grass growing?" the way I used to wonder how a mother kept her baby soothed during teething episodes. Would you believe? Even the nicest, most environmentally-aware men that I have questioned, have all said the same thing; "Oh, yeah, I let the chemical spray truck take care of that. It's cheap...and I can't make grass grow anyway." 

NOT HAPPENING! Spend money on GRASS, an invasive species that neither nourishes nor flowers? Add more chemicals to my environment to that end? What an odd idea. Here is my last remaining bald patch, after 3 plantings, daily watering, fertilizing with my fragrant, homegrown compost and way too much time and energy for any rational woman to put into this sort of endeavor: (note that nary a green plant surrounding said bald spot is actual grass, all weeds, pathetic.)

Here is my solution:

Behind the pretty petunia is a tomato plant; beauty and utility, how can grass ever compete? Sigh, now we can all go back to enjoying life out here, caught somewhere between the city and the wilderness.

1 comment:

  1. Too funny! Thankfully although we live in an area much as you describe, my neighbours are much more lackadaisical about things. Nobody really worries about their lawn in this neighbourhood, they are all too busy avoiding the heat like a plague. I just planted a huge flower bed full of self-seeding annuals and some tough perennials and called it good! My flower beds fill over half the front "lawn" and the rest be hanged! But I often visit friends and family that live in areas such as yours... with the chem trucks happily spraying day and night. Not for me! Thank you very much!
    I love the container solution you came up with, good for you!!!


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