We don't have a lawn. We have a yard. We have friends and neighbors who have lawns - manicured, weed-free, trimmed around the edges. Worthy of a golf course.
Not our yard.
It's never been a putting green. Once a soccer practice field. An occasional bocce court. Often a cornhole venue. Badminton? Absolutely. But the only way it would qualify for golf is if you consider a friendly game of croquet as some form of golf.
For the past several years, we've missed the spring maintenance for our yard. Something has come up to prevent us from doing the "proper" yard work to ensure that our grass survived another summer under the feet of the kids and dogs. But it was starting to look worse than ever; it was time to do some much-needed yard repair.
So this year we thatched and fertilized and overseeded. It's looking great, and the four-legged friends are even letting some of the muddy spots grow in a bit. But with fertilizer comes growth (and what did we expect?) and that means mowing.
Once, we had a fellow come out and give us an estimate for mowing our yard. It was either hire someone to cut the grass or have the kids do the work and put the money in their college funds. We chose option B (the free option), and the money we saved over the course of several summers will pay for a good portion of a year of college. And the work is good for the kids.
The only problem with option B is that it always rains on spring weekends (when the teenage mowers are available), and it's beautifully sunny during the week when they are in school and good ol' mom is available.
Now for the big secret (don't tell the kids): I love to cut the grass. I was cutting the grass the other day for the first time of the season, and I realized I can't become totally "green" and get rid of the yard, or the lawn tractor that we use to mow it.
I put on hearing protection, rev up the engine, drop that blade, and I'm off to a couple of hours of "peace," if not quiet. I think of all sorts of things while I mow. Friends. Family. Stories to write. Songs I love (I sing while I mow ... quite loudly, I've been told).
It's also a great way to survey the grounds. I see all of the tasks that must be done in the yard as I whiz by on my mower. Many times I've put the brake on, hopped off and attacked a weedy patch of a flower bed or straightened a brick bed edge, mid-mow. I've started keeping a pencil and a piece of paper in my pocket, and I'll stop at the end of a nice, long grassy stretch and write down all of the things to add to the to-do list.
One thing that's not on that list is weed-killing in our grass. If we killed the weeds, we would have nothing green to speak of in many parts of the yard. But I like it that way. I love clover, thank goodness. Not killing the weeds is my way of having a "green" lawn, in the ecological, if not the actual color, definition of the word.
This year, for the first time, I saw wild violets growing in the grass. We've had dandelions, and weeds untold, but I must admit I was a bit happy to see the violets, even though many folks would call them weeds. That splash of purple looked delightful against the bright green of the grass. Along the edge of the walkway, there are Johnny-Jump-Ups that have vanished from the flowerbeds, but that have taken hold in the lawn. Downright joyful.
So if you're looking for a place to hit a few golf balls, don't come to our house. But if you like to lie on the grass and gaze at the stars late at night, or if you like to romp around with a couple of dogs chasing a tennis ball, then our place is right for you. Just be sure you notice the pretty little violets over by the edge of the woods - they are beautiful.
Sara Busse is a Charleston resident and master gardener. She may be contacted at sjbu...@gmail.com.