The Yard

Posted: June 9, 2015 in creative writing

Every morning I look out into the backyard, scan the perimeter for whatever may be visiting that day and wonder why this is so fascinating. It certainly may be the landscaping. I’m very proud of it, crab grass and all. Much more proud  than I was a few years ago.

You see, my yard 18 years ago was an impeccably groomed fescue lawn. Not a yard, a lawn. A big difference. A fescue lawn, at my latitude, requires fertilizer and weed killer twice a year,  insecticide to prevent grub worms ( June bug larva actually) once a year and a very large quantity of water, .75 of an inch every 2 days to be exact. I had all of the equipment to provide this, everything. A Scott’s fertilizer spreader, rakes, plastic lawn bags, even an underground automatic sprinkler system and of course a 22 inch self-propelled power mower with a big bag on the back to collect all of the grass I was cutting one or two times a week. And I had a garden shed to store it all. And all of this lawn grooming must be done on a predetermined schedule. Fertilize in the fall, fertilize and weed killer mid year, anti – grub worming third week in May, water first thing in the morning at sunrise and mowing on weekends and maybe Wednesdays.

Are you bored yet? Sound like work? Have you figured out how many gallons of water that takes. And what the hell do you do with the grass clippings? (haul them across town to the community compost pile). What else does that insecticide kill besides grubs? What the hell is in the fertilizer and weed killer, I break out when I spread it. How many hours a week does this take? Are you bored yet?

There are at least four things I hated about that lawn. Wasting water, killing bugs and anything that eats them, hauling grass, grass for christ’s sake! from one end of town to the other and goddamn it, I have better things to do on my time off from work.

Well, I put up with it for about 4 years. And frankly, I got sick of it all. My home looked good, the grass was green, the sidewalks were edged straight as a string. It was a postcard of suburbia. But I was sick of being a slave to it. I did not enjoy gardening, mowing, fixing sprinkler heads or grass hauling and killing broad leaves and bugs. Maybe I will when I’m retired and feel I need something to do around the house. But I doubt it. This is ol’ ShipSmoke you’re talking to.

Today, I follow the 30 minute rule. No more than 30 minutes a week are spent on the yard. No automatic water wasting, none. No fertilizer, no weed killer, no bug killer, no grass hauling. Just a quick mowing on a riding lawn mower at full speed and keep things neat. I do not collect grass, I mulch it all. Bermuda grass has taken over and buffalo grass is volunteering in the back yard. Dandelions have their way with me for a few weeks in the early spring. The yard looks pretty good for 4 or 5 days a week, a little shaggy for 2 or 3. Bermuda and buffalo require no watering. They are both native to this area. Without rain, the Bermuda turns a little brown but it bounces back after the next rain.

Everything is on its own now. I may be the scourge of the neighborhood. I have them all,  the grass, the crab grass, the broad leafs, the dandelions, the bugs, the yard, the wild flowers, the clover, the rabbits, the squirrels, the mourning doves, the blue jays, the cardinals and the juncos and house finches. We never had any of those when we had a lawn. We do now since it turned into a yard. They hang out at my house. And all for just 30 minutes a week on a riding mower at high speed.

Yard work!! Phooey!!


  1. I love this! 🙂 YAY! I’m so so SO glad you found The Happy Yard where stuff can grow wild and the wildlife can grow! What a joy it would be to sit and gaze upon it all…especially the birds and animals playing and eating! 🙂
    YES! Phooey on lawn work! 😀
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, the animals aren’t exactly playing together but there are certainly more. Before I noticed a few times after spreading fertilizer and weed killer a few birds were eating the pretty colored granules. I can only imagine the heart burn from doing that and I’m sure they died. Sort of like throwing rice at weddings, it is bad for birds. Dead bugs that die from insecticides are bad for birds also. We might as well just sit outdoors and shoot them with a BB gun. We wouldn’t dream of doing that but we feed them poison without giving it a thought.
    Yard watering is getting way out of hand, thousands of gallons each month are wasted just for a green yard on a grass that’s not meant for the environment folks are growing it in. The vanity of suburban America is shameful. I am sick of the waste, the vanity and the tight assed conspicuous consumption that goes on in middle America neighborhoods. Putting importance into such trivial time wasters. 😐 Conformity….. Phooey!! 😀

    Thanks for your comments C, I hope you do enjoy this. 🙂


  3. iampeacenow says:

    I am so with you on this. Yard work is not my thing. My mother loves it. She loves a nice lawn and carefully tended flower beds here and there. For the most part I want something more natural, organic and low maintenance. If my situation ever changes I’d like a yard that is partially done with rock gardens, native grasses and wildflowers, and stone paths through it beyond the trees (trees and yard that I am currently lacking but none the less). Putting it in will be work & take a lottery win but then perhaps it will be low maintenance. If I ever have this imaginary yard I will still reserve a spot for Kendra’s garden which will have a few roses but I think I can deal with one bed of 3 or 4 rose bushes. People around here are fans of Bermuda for the very reasons you state. My mother has St Augustine. I admit I love walking barefoot on her lawn but would never put in the work or watering she does. And she is getting too old to do it. (I hate to say my mom is too old ;-( ) peace always

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I have more time I would like to do that in my backyard, too. The rock garden concept is very good idea. We started two yards in Bermuda when we lived in Oklahoma, liked it . The roses would be nice but I’d struggle caring for them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • iampeacenow says:

        Roses are high maintenance. One reason I’d need the rest of the yard easy ;-). I go help with the garden sometimes at the house but the (estranged) husband is doing with them this year.


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