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Brandon: Of all mankind’s follies… lawn care

It’s about this time of year, when the summer heat and humidity have dug in for the long haul, that I berate myself anew for the folly that is lawn maintenance.

You’ve got to be an idiot of the highest order, I tell myself, as I’m sweating behind my mower — or worse, doing edging and Weedeating, which leave me plastered with an amalgam of sweat, dirt, and weed/grass debris. Why, I ask, would anyone with a brain larger than a mosquito, do this kind of chore on purpose, and then five to seven days do it all over again?

For what? To try and grow grass? Not exactly one of the planet’s more commendable goals. Whoever got a Nobel Prize for Lawn of the Month?

Oh, I’ll grant that a well-tended, well-fertilized, well-watered lawn is a thing of beauty, and there are several in our town that look as though they were sculpted with a laser — table-top flat, every blade of grass cut to the exact same height, edged to plumb line sharpness, not a weed in sight. A veritable carpet of green lushness.

I admit to a tinge of envy when I survey those Garden Beautiful patches of bermuda, St. Augustine, zoysia, etc., and mentally compare them to my mongrelized collection of grasses, dandelions, and weeds.

Once in the dim, dark past, I had a decent lawn...for a short while. St. Augustine, it was (I think). The previous owner had spent a lot of time babying the lawn, probably to impress some house-hunting sucker like me who didn’t know that underneath that St. Augustine was gumbo clay soil that turned brick hard in the summer and spawned cracks that all the water in the Mississippi River couldn’t fill.

For a couple of seasons, little realizing the utter futility of it, I continued babying the St. Augustine, which rewarded me with epidemic chinchbug infestations, diseases galore, and massive winterkill. As the St. Augustine became scarcer and scarcer and common bermuda, wild grasses (including some persistent clumps of johnsongrass), and weeds proliferated, the challenge became too daunting and I left it pretty much to Mother Nature’s whim as to what the lawn would consist of from year to year. Au naturale, as it were.

Even so, mowing, edging, and Weedeating continued necessary to keep my neighbors from reporting me as a municipal blight.

Now, plodding along behind my aged Sears mower, sweating profusely, trying to avoid twisted/broken ankles from stepping in holes the dratted chipmunks dig everywhere, being pitied by my neighbors who tool around on their fancy riding mowers, I ponder anew my stupidity.

Too late I reflect that 30 years ago I should have (1) cut down every pine tree on the place — they’re a mess the year ’round and it would’ve saved me a fortune in cleanup costs when the monster ice storm in ’94 felled most of ’em, (2) should have tracked down and shot whoever planted hollies with needle sharp leaves all around the house, and (3) should’ve poured a thick slab of concrete over the entire lawn.


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