Sallymander's blog: Lawn abuse

Posted on Jul 22, 2019 6:28 AM

I will be the first to admit, I'm not a fan of lawns. That said, if I'm going to have a lawn, I want a lawn that is full of life. The obstacles have been daunting and I'm currently taking a hiatus on the topic.

We rent. I have zero say over when the lawn is mowed, aerated and thatched (acts that range from sporadic to never.) The terrain is steep, and I'm older, so doing it myself really isn't an option. It is immeasurably frustrating to know so much about how to do a thing, and no ability to do it, nor any authority to see it done the way I wish.

We live on an acre. When we moved here, disease was rampant. There was dead and dying apple trees, runaway blackberries, thistles everywhere and something that couldn't pass as a lawn if it were the only lawn left on the planet. From the very first day, we, like all previous tenants, have used the lawn as a "road" to access the rest of the yard. Cars, trucks, trailers, run the loop almost daily. The soil beneath the lawn is like cement. Whenever it rained, an inch of rain water would flood across the lawn and down into the street, flooding the road. It was not possible for the soil to absorb any of the rain. The lawn was dry in all but the wettest month. Every summer, at his earliest convenience, which always coincided with a heat wave, the mower dude would arrive without warning and scalp the lawn to the ground, leaving nothing but dust. This was his way to get out of mowing the rest of the summer. He got paid either way. The earth was so dry, it cracked and you could put your arm down the fissures.

The first thing we did was remove half the lawn, bring in mountains of mulch, and plant. Reducing the size of the lawn opened up the soil and allowed water in for the first time in decades. Now, no matter how much it rains, no flooding occurs. The rain seeps in. That has helped the remaining lawn, but not enough. Even after removing half the lawn, it remains the primary feature of the yard. I couldn't afford to water all of it, so I test watered a sizable patch one year, and found it made absolutely no difference. The compacted soil beneath the lawn simply can not hold moisture. Without the ability to hold moisture, it is no surprise, fertilizing is also of little value. I exuded a lot of effort in the reclamation of the lawn the first few years. I felt I was spending half the year nursing the lawn to health in the wet months, and the other half, killing it, by driving on it, so I stopped the nursing. The driving won out.

Yesterday, the lawn looked dry, and yet, for reasons I have no knowledge of, the mower dude has yet to scalp it. In fact, he's been mowing it high. It is about four inches tall. As pathetic as it is, it is actually a huge improvement. In years past, I was vigilant about removing the mole hills, because I know mower dudes don't like to mow mole hills. This year, I let them go. I can't help but wonder if the two are somehow linked. If so, major score for Mr. Mole!

While the lawn remains the desert surrounding the oasis, ever threatening to consume it, this tiny concession of allowing the lawn summer time growth has given me hope. This small act has given me inspiration to start restoration anew in the fall. If we are still here in five years, it is my hope the lawn will be a source of pride, rather than shame. Wish me luck!

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moles in the lawn by LysmachiaMoon Jul 27, 2019 4:20 PM 0

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