Summer finally has made an appearance on the Kenai Peninsula, and the recent combination of sun and rain can only mean one thing: It's time to mow the lawn.
There are many people out there who love lawn maintenance. Their lawns are meticulously tended to. They fertilize and water. Leaves are raked up in the fall before they even touch the ground, it seems. There is not a dandelion or sprout of chickweed in sight. Edges are sharp. They mow in patterns that would make a professional groundskeeper at a major league ballpark proud. Their grass is worthy of a PGA Tour stop.
I am not one of those people.
Indeed, if I had my druthers, or yard would feature more of a "natural" look, by which I mean it would be covered in plants that don't need mowing. For example, I think dwarf dogwood is a beautiful groundcover. In fact, I have a lot of experience with it, as I spend a lot of time in it when I golf at the local courses. It's coming in especially thick this year, by the way.
I wouldn't go as far as the Clarion's outdoors columnist, Les Palmer, does, in propagating a yard full of dandelions, if for no other reason than other folks in the neighborhood do have lawns that resemble those faux-grass welcome mats, and I don't want to be that guy who spreads weeds up and down the block. As it is it's been all I can do to contain our backyard chickweed crop.
Speaking of our backyard, over the past few years, we've removed a number of trees and had an actual lawn planted there, too (with dogs and kids, the natural look out there was just getting a little too muddy), which now doubles the area that needs to be mowed. My wife had her heart set on a strip of green back there, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't sell her on the benefits of artificial turf.
While I'm not a huge fan of lawns, the rest of my family seems to be. For example, my wife keeps getting fertilizer -- and actually spreading it. She doesn't seem to have much sympathy when I point out that doing so only makes more work for me. I consider yard care a chore, just like vacuuming the house or scrubbing the bathroom. She disagrees.
What's more, she likes the grass to grow right up to the base of out trees. Do you know what a pain in the butt it is to mow around trees? Or to get right up to the edge of the house? I wish she'd at least let me plant something that doesn't need to be mowed there.
I avoid watering the lawn, leaving that to Mother Nature. And I'd like to thank the city of Kenai for enacting water use restrictions. They are voluntary, but consider me a willing volunteer.
Of course, my lawn seems to get watered anyway, as my kids set up the sprinkler to play in any time the temperature is above 65, and when they help water the garden beds, they generally soak a large swath of the lawn, too.
My son is now old enough to start helping with the yard work, but he seems to have figured out the same thing about mowing -- it's a chore, just like cleaning his room -- and has quickly lost interest. (Though now that I think about it, using the lawnmower to clean his room might speed up that task, too.)
Some of my neighbors seem to look for any excuse to fire up the lawnmower; I'll admit to looking for any excuse not to. Too wet, too dry, too early, too busy -- all valid in my book.
I don't do myself any favors by waiting so long between cuts. By the time I do get to dragging the mower out of the shed, the chore takes twice as long as it should. The grass shin-high in places, and the mower bag needs to be emptied on every pass -- yet another reason to put it off.
Of course, this can work to my advantage. Instead of a quick trim, mowing the lawn is a multi-hour affair -- which means it's time that I don't have to spend doing something else, like vacuuming the house or scrubbing the bathroom.
Maybe it's not such a chore after all ...
You can reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at firstname.lastname@example.org, unless he's out mowing the lawn.