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Sunday, April 29, 2007  

Back to Reality

M. Small is finally getting old enough that we can do yard work without waiting for his nap or a visit to his grandparents to get him out of the way. A couple of weeks ago, Trash and I were busily clearing out the overgrown patch of land in the back yard next to our garage. M. Small was outside with us, but he wasn't running around or making a lot of noise, which is usually a sign of trouble. But every time we looked up, he was busily playing with his giant Legos at his picnic table on the deck. For a good half hour he entertained himself in this fashion while we worked. Why he had to discover this diversion while we were clearing brush and not just sitting on the patio drinking beer was beyond me.

No matter how distracted he gets, however, there always seems to be something to prevent us from finishing all the yard work we want to finish on a weekend. Like it starts raining, or my parents invite us out to take a ride on their boat, or we get too tired out, or the sun goes down and we can't see what we're doing any more

But yesterday, I don't know what happened. M. Small went out with us in the morning to water the grass seeds, and he never seemed to want to go inside He was perfectly happy to hang out with us while we did whatever, only making one or two dashes toward the street that we had to abort. Trash watered her new plants out front, and dug up our sinking paving stones so she could put new dirt under them and raise them up to a more usable level. Meanwhile, I raked up the past month's worth of leaves and lawn thatch so the back yard looked like a vacuumed green carpet.

The only problem with that is that even after six or so years of re-seeding the backyard grass every damn spring, that green carpet still has some threadbare areas. Like roughly a third of the yard. Still, when the snow melted a few weeks ago, it revealed that we had the most surviving grass we've had back there since the year we moved in. My theory continues to be that if I seed every year and keep it alive for as much of the summer as possible, there'll be more to start with the next spring. So far the theory is holding up. While the back yard is 66% grass now, it was only about 65% grass at this time last year. At this rate, I'll have a little more grass each year until M. Small is old enough for me to make it his problem.

In the meantime, I'll just continue seeding and watering every spring. It's always a race to get the grass to come up before the giant maple in the back grows leaves and creates a highly localized nuclear winter in our yard that even "shady" grass seed can't survive. We have hopes for this year, however, because we're having someone come to trim that giant maple way back. We would have done it anyway, since its branches practically brush M. Small's new bedroom window and we really don't want any kind of Poltergeist situation arising during the summer's first thunderstorm.

This year's crop of grass seed's been down for two weeks, and it's already coming up in spots. Other spots, not so much, but I'm still optimistic. Almost every year, we get a few weeks of having the whole back yard looking rich and verdant. And then something happens, like I miss a day of watering, or I mow too soon, or we get a hailstorm that hammers it all flat, or the maple leaves come in and the grass doesn't get any sunlight until Halloween. I keep waiting to see what's going to kill it this year, An earthquake? A brush fire? Trash and I getting involved in yard work for ten minutes while M. Small is quiet and busy, and then we look up to find that he's been yanking it all out in great fistfuls?

But I suppose it has to come up first, which might not happen at all. See, I'm trying to keep a positive attitude.

And then we can work on resurrecting the front yard, which the construction from last fall pretty much killed.

posted by M. Giant 9:00 AM 2 comments

2 Comments:

We had a similar problem with our (much smaller) lawn. A ten foot high fir tree was killing off the grass that tried to grow in our 10x8 Philadelphia "lawn".

However, the problem wasn't that the tree was creating shade which lead to the grass' demise. It was that its root system was sucking up all of groundwater. Do you keep watering the grass once it has sprouted? A tree's growing leaves is also when it stops its... whatever. I'll call it "plant hibernation."

And since I'm going to stop being a lurker, I just want to add that M. Small is the most adorable thing.

By Blogger Lisa, at April 29, 2007 at 7:44 PM  

Why not mulch over the shady area where the grass won't grow? As long as you don't pile it up around the base of the trunk, mulch is better for the tree's root system because it holds more moisture than bare dirt. Also, it is less work (except for hauling the mulch) and gives you an area to experiment with shade-tolerant ground covers. If the ground cover dies, like the grass, then it was obviously not meant to live there. Like the grass.

I speak from experience, and a tiny lawn of grass, violets, and wild strawberries. And mulch.

By Blogger 100 word minimum, at April 30, 2007 at 8:54 PM  

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