This may sound a bit nerdy, but I was really looking forward to lawn care when we first bought our house. I decided to be a sexist fool while daydreaming (we had been living in a small apartment) and envisioned my beautiful wife vacuuming and cooking (in a hot little outfit of course) while my manhood was shining for all to see as I manicured my perfectly laid lawn of green majesty. I believe these daydreams stemmed from a belief that a good-looking lawn equated to a successful family. Or a successful father? Regardless, my lawn was my mission as my wife and I first moved into our house.
The family that lived in our house before us had four dogs so the ground had been beaten into submission and the grass non-existent. We purchased the home in a wintry November and, like idiotic first-time house-buyers, never even looked at the lawn. Here I was, Herculean in my capability, ready to rebuild the house board by board if necessary. A little lawn care did not intimidate! The weather started to warm and, as March started to close, we held a belated housewarming party so all could see our home. We had some snacks and drinks, and the kids decided to give the backyard a try. Several teary kids’ returns later, we realized that whatever little brownish-greenish patches of stuff there was, it certainly wasn’t grass. The poor kiddos were getting stabbed with sticker bushes on their bare feet, knees, and hands. The outdoor playtime was limited to just a few minutes…and I realized I may have underestimated the lawn.
No worries, April quickly came around, and I was bound and determined to renovate the landscaping and decided a shopping spree was necessary. New grass! Special grass-growing dirt! 25 bags of mulch! Weed protection paper stuff! Lawn mower! Hedge clippers! Rake! Fertilizer! Weed killer! Magic beanstalk seeds! I had to have 4 of everything. Enthusiastic and prepared, I cleared the weekend (haha…we didn’t have kids yet at this point; EVERY weekend was clear). I planted grass in expensive dirt. I sprayed kerosene (or whatever the heck is in Round-Up) all over the weeds. Laid down magic weed fabric. Watered. Mowed. Fertilized. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I tended to my precious little grass stalks like they were my own children—a pre-exam, if you will, for testing my preparedness for fatherhood.
And, generally speaking, I did a decent job. The mulch took the front yard landscaping to almost average looking and almost 20% of the planted grass grew and survived. Yay? 5 months later, and I was back at it, planting more grass and fertilizing like all those commercials with the green plastic lawns tell me to. And a little more grass took. Almost 50% of our lawn had grass! 30% was still weeds and 20% dirt. After the fall ‘session’, my first daughter was born and, believe it or not, I went hard again the following spring. It was still very slow going, much like this story.
Fast forward to today…where the weeds have reclaimed the property. The mulch from 4 years ago is faded, if not washed away. There are a few surviving grass patches but not much. So where did it all go? The grass died. My motivation died. Whatever rabbits and varmints counting on my lawn for sustenance probably followed shortly thereafter. We were young and elated to own a home—for all the wrong reasons. We assumed we would treasure our house for its beauty, its function, and all the improvements we had planned for it.
Funny things, however, started happening. The first kid came. The budget shrunk. Our free time shrunk. I went back to school. The budget shrank again, my time alongside. The second kid came. The budget flat-lined. Free time was running at a deficit. We have basically gotten to the point where the only attention the lawn receives is a quick mow just minutes before the City condemns the property as an abandoned jungle yard. And we don’t even notice. I could say that the budget pinches did it in. That our personal and professional lives no longer afforded the luxury of weekend afternoons spent on the house. And all that’s true, but I like to think that somewhere in the midst of having kids and becoming a family, we started to see the home for other things—like our first daughter’s first night home from the hospital. For the first introduction between our two daughters. For the late night pizza, ice cream, and Netflix ‘dates’ we had before kids. For all the smiles, tears, and mayhem that occurred in the house. What it looked like has stopped mattering more and more.
So I guess we’ll just wait until we have to sell it someday…hopefully by then, we can afford to pay someone else to make the lawn pretty. I failed. Or maybe we can tell our own story of nostalgia and cheesy anecdotes to convince a young couple that a dirt and weed yard isn’t to be taken lightly…