My general attitude towards lawn care is that I have a lawn and I don’t care. If ever we were to succumb to those phone pitches offering to gas and purge the weeds out of our lawn, the truck would pull up to the curb, take one look, then speed away quicker than the onset of toxic pesticide nausea.
We mow, we trim, we pluck the odd weed, but there is very little of what you could technically call “grass” on our lawn. It is green, yes. It is definitely grass-like. It is lawn-esque. If you squint, you get the sense of something reasonably kempt.
Let me put it this way: our immediate neighbours are perennial contenders (ha! “perennial”!) for the town’s Maison Fleurie contest, and I think it’s fair to say that their chances are greatly enhanced due to sharp contrast.
The closest we get to intensive lawn maintenance is each spring we attempt to resuscitate the yellow polka dots where the dog has done her high-octane business all winter. I swear the dog must pee rocket fuel. We buy some bags of dirt, mix it with grass seed and patch the lawn, turning the yellow dots dark brown for awhile until, hopefully, the grass catches, usually around the time of the first snow.
Three years ago, though, we removed our swimming pool. We did not, however, remove the swimming pool divot. We’ve gone two summers now staring at a sandy, 24-foot diameter concave depression. If there were a municipal contest for neglected pool divots, we would have been swimming in prizes (ha! “swimming”!).
So after watching it become increasingly turned into the giant litter box that the cats understandably assumed it was, this year I got around to ordering a big ol’ pile of dirt. Unfortunately, the truck could not squeeze through the space between the house and the garage so they dumped the nine yards of dirt at the end of the driveway. Yes, the whole nine yards.
I then spent the next several days, off and on, shifting wheelbarrows of dirt from the driveway across the lawn to the hole, filling the pool divot and attempting to level it with the rest of the lawn. This was not easy because the only thing our lawn has in common with level is the letter L.
But I did my best. I raked, I patted, I smoothed. I did the hokey-pokey and I turned myself around. And that’s what it’s lawn about. I have to admit it was quite satisfying to watch it fill up. And I was getting super buff in the process! (Editor’s note: He got nowhere near buff, super or otherwise.)
I then distributed seed ever so scatteringly across the surface of what I continued to call “the pool.” And here is where I discovered the problem. What I had been hauling was not soil, as such, but dirt. It was not rich. It was a mere 10 percent humidity away from being dust. In short, it had no density, and my dumping and raking had done nothing to pack it down. What did pack it down? Each step I took on its surface.
I managed to smooth it out when I raked in the seeds. No problem. It would settle. Right? Right?
There was also dirt left over, so I went about leveling the lawn’s other craters and minor ravines out front and back.
And then I watered. For the next two weeks, with temperatures hovering between “arid” and “inferno,” I watered and I watered. I set up my sprinkler over dirt and aimed the hose at smaller patches of dirt. I stood there spraying. I wasted water to make grass.
And when I wasn’t watering, I was staring at the dirt, waiting for little sprouts of grass to pop up, like cheap hair plugs. Two weeks later, my pool patch looks like it has male pattern baldness.
“Why won’t you grow?” I yelled at the lawn. “Get away bird!” I yelled at (you guessed it) a bird. “Watch the grass!” I yelled at the kids. They played Frisbee on the weekend, and my hulking children trod all over the patch trying to catch the disk, leaving deep footprints in the dirt that did NOT at all settle as advertised.
“It’s fine,” Deb told them. I curled up in a fetal ball.
So that’s who I am now. A man who cares about his lawn. This is my life. And the sad thing is, even if the pool patch does grow, it will still be merely lawn-esque.