By DOROTHY ROSBY
Lawns are dumb. They’re attractive but high maintenance, pretty but senseless—the bimbos of the natural world. As I’m hauling hoses around my lawn, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a better use of my time and water. And if it’s not the lawn that’s dumb.
I like my lawn for about half a day every spring. It turns green and asks little of me. But as the days wear on, it gets more and more needy. There’s bindweed and crabgrass, and the dandelions pop up like spam in my inbox.
And since we hired someone to fertilize the grass and kill the weeds, the lawn looks worse. At least the weeds were green. Without them, there’s nothing covering the bald spots. Between cuttings, our grass is Mother Nature’s version of a comb over. And that seems like a very good reason not to mow. Not that I do.
You may be thinking that if we’d water more, we wouldn’t have so many bare spots. And you might be right. But you haven’t seen our lawn. It’s big, and as the summer wears on, it gets bigger. Really! In the spring, it’s the size of football field. At least it seems that way. By fall, it’s as big as an 18-hole golf course with extra hazards. If you think I’m exaggerating, come over and drag hoses around it for a while.
In fact, I’d like that very much. That’s how we water at our house, and frankly we could use the help. It would take a sprinkler system or a truly dedicated waterer to keep our gigantic lawn green. There’s no sprinkler system in my future and no dedicated waterers in my house. That means, where we live, the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence and I sincerely wish my neighbors could say the same thing.
Why water when we’ll just have to mow more often? Or rather my husband will have to mow more often. I rake, pull weeds and water now and then, but I do not mow. That’s because part of our lawn is on a very steep hill and I’m not as tough as I look. I’d be risking my life mowing the hill. I let my husband risk his instead. Neglecting to water is one small kindness I can show him. Plus I’m hoping he’ll water if I don’t.
After a summer of plucking weeds, dragging hoses, and watching my husband mow, I’m rewarded with a ton of cottonwood leaves and pine needles to rake in the fall. Both are deadly to grass. It’s reminds me of a Liam Neeson movie. “Rake or the lawn dies.”
Unfortunately, there are no truly dedicated rakers in our house either. Our lawn doesn’t stand a chance, between the leaves and the pine needles—and us.
Today as I was dragging hoses across my lawn, I stopped and looked up at the hills behind my house. No one waters, rakes or mows them, but they’re beautiful. That’s when it hit me. Crabgrass and dandelions are not the problem. Cottonwood leaves and pine needles are not the problem. The lawn is the problem. That and a shortage of dedicated waterers and rakers.
Dorothy Rosby is the author of the new humor book, I Didn’t Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch, Parenting Blunders from Cradle to Empty Nest.