Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grass Is a Weed

Recently, after much diligent re-seeding and weeding and aerating and fertilizing and poisoning of moles, a home on my block has achieved that glossy, green suburban dream: the perfect grass lawn.

Once merely a well-tended expanse of mostly-nice grass punctuated with occasional patches of persistent clover, this year, through an impressive show of sheer gardening force, my neighbor's back yard has been transformed into a smooth, uniform carpet of pure golf-course green worthy of feature in a home and garden magazine. Sure, we may share a rusty chainlink fence that's a little past its prime. But my neighbor's lawn? This lawn is the stuff of fertilizer advertising poetry. This lawn is an achievement.

The other day I was having a pleasant conversation with the very amiable neighbor who created this phenomenal lawn over our shared rusty fence — about our perennial plans to Do Something about said aging fence, about our childrens' schools, about When To Plant Tomatoes. And my neighbor with the newly perfect lawn — who has always admired my hosta beds, my lilies, my decorative herbs, my productive vegetable plot, and the nearly flawless zoysia lawn in front of my home — may have — may have — made a good-natured joke about my own back yard's anarchic descent into riots of wild violets and wild strawberries.

I laughed, and wasn't offended. But what I didn't tell my neighbor with the perfect lawn is that I like my yard this way.

In my front yard, I keep truce with my suburban community's traditional standards by growing a Good Lawn. A smooth, square, carpet lawn. A lawn that old ladies smile at and neighborhood children can't resist playing soccer on.

But in my back yard, I welcome the violets, and the clover, because I welcome the bees that come to visit those plants, and stay to pollinate my squash and tomatoes. I welcome the wild strawberries, because I welcome the swooping cardinal's red flash and the mournful call of the dove. I welcome the wild plantain because I welcome the rabbits eating that instead of my lilies, and I welcome the wild garlic because I eat it myself.

I welcome the two-foot garter snake, with its candy-bright stripes, that sets up quiet residence in my pesticide-free yard every spring, keeping mice and rats and rabbits in check. I welcome the box turtle that showed up last year, thrilling my son who had never seen a turtle before outside of a glass cage at the zoo, and the crickets that sing under the shelter of violet and strawberry leaves, and the fireflies that light up the night every June, and the butterflies.

I have my own idea of the perfect lawn, and my back yard comes pretty close. And though I truly admire my neighbor's lovely green grass, he can keep it. I can't help but prefer my own little field of wild things.

3 Comentários:

Magpie said...

I like this. I fight with my husband about our so-called lawn. He wants something more closely resembling your neighbor's; I don't.

You might like Sara Stein's book, Noah's Garden.

Awesome Mom said...

It is nice to meet someone with the same lawn philosophy as me. We have a ton of clover in our lawn and I like it what way. We have a bunny that comes and eats it and I love the flowers as well. Grass is so boring to me.

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