Last summer, Chuck, the across the street neighbor, hired a lawn service to seed grass, fertilize his yard and kill the weeds. I think Chuck should insist upon a refund because the yard now looks haggard and decrepit. At least he has also hired a high school student to mow the yard each week to help the yard’s appearance. Prior to last year, Chuck’s yard looked as if it was trying to revert back to native prairie growth. So kudos to my neighbor for trying.
As for my yard, the landlord’s lease agreement only requires that I mow it, and irrigate it if necessary. He has discouraged me from trying to improve the yard by actively cultivating grass. I do have permission to spread “filler seed” when bare patches appear.
My quandry appears each year around late March into April. Dandelions and creeping charlie. Dandelions are the most noticeable plants because of their bright yellow blooms that transform into virulent puffballs of seeds. Part of me wants to eliminate the dandelions in order to fit in with Chuck and one other neighbor. Part of me is happy to allow them to stay in order to provide habitat for bees and monarch butterflies. When I think of the helpful insects, the default weeds seem like the best solution.
I remember seeing a long plastic tube labeled “Killer Cane” in dad’s garage many years ago. The translucent plastic tube had a hollow spike at the end to inject herbicide into the ground near the roots of weeds. Dad only used the device a few times. He got tired of walking around the yard finding weeds to inject.
Dad eventually adopted the expensive practice of grooming the yard with chemical fertilizers and herbicides. He assigned lawn mowing to my brother and me. After we kids grew up and left home, dad sold the house and moved to an acreage at the outskirts of town. That’s when he altered his weed aversion. Except for chopping down noxious weeds, he let go of lawn chemical use and worries. His riding tractor mower was all dad needed to keep the large yard neat and tidy.
I liked dad’s new attitude. It fitted in with his new-found ability to accept situations and people for what and who they naturally are. Letting go of his yard obsessions allowed him to enjoy life more fully. The money he normally would have spent on chemicals was redirected towards his interests as a tourist. Dad often said that his travel funds were dollars wisely spent. He was pleased as punch to show off his vacation photos and relate anecdotes about the places he visited. Not caring about weeds made dad a new man.
As far as my personal aesthetics are concerned, I like to take walks through woods and meadows that are in their natural states. Being with the flora and the fauna brings calm and happiness. I often wish that civilization could exist in better harmony with wild, aboriginal plants and animals. These living things are our heritage.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes electronica musician Moby. “I remember New York in the ’80s as a place with vacant lots that would eventually give over to nature. Weeds would grow up, squirrels would move in. That entropy is gone now. It’s too expensive to let a vacant lot go natural.”