Taking a pass on grass
Hell, no, we won’t mow.
Carolyn J. Rose
A few days ago a young woman came to the door selling lawn care services. Apparently, looking at the
scraggly grass, exposed roots, clover, dandelions, moss, and bare patches in our yard, she assumed we would jump at the chance for a lawn makeover.
Not wanting to damage her self-esteem, I controlled my laughter and contained my comments. The fact is that our lawn looks the way it does because we made a conscious decision not to get involved in turf wars. You know what I mean, those escalating battles for the title of best lawn in the neighborhood, battles fought with fertilizers and weed killer, thatching machines, sprinklers, mowers, edging tools, seed, sod, and sand.
All we do is mow. And we do that just often enough to keep our neighbors from flipping us off.
It’s not that we don’t appreciate an emerald expanse of neatly clipped blades. It’s not that we don’t enjoy the scent of a freshly cut field. It’s not that we don’t relish the cool texture of grass between our toes.
We just don’t feel the need to be pawns in the lawn game.
We have friends who devote hours to tending their turf, pampering their plots, feeding their fescue. We know men who, at the sound of a lawnmower engine—no matter how distant—get an irresistible urge to fire up their own and cut a swath through the St. Augustine grass. We have neighbors who patrol the boundaries of their Bermuda grass each day on the lookout for molehills, litter, twigs, and leaves.
My lack of involvement with grass was nurtured during my childhood in the Catskills. The soil on the land my father owned seemed to be at least 50% pebbles, stone, and rocks. Those who could afford it, trucked in topsoil. Others built up their vegetable and flower garden soil through years of composting. Seldom was that effort expended on a lawn. Rocks and bumps, we were told, made croquet more of a challenge and roots and sticker weeds lent an air of danger to a barefoot game of badminton.
Covered by snow for many months, lawns in the Catskills were hardy, but seldom robust. If you saw a smooth, weed-free, dark green lawn, you knew the person who lived there had bucks to blow. For my family, a lawn was more a place to park a few extra cars and a way to keep the encroaching woods at bay. And at this point in my life, I’m not going to buck tradition.