Portrait of a Man with a Hose

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.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
This entry was posted in Reading? Ugh! and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Portrait of a Man with a Hose

  1. You never know…those footprints could become covered over with more soil – hardening over millennia and solidifying into rock – to be uncovered millions of years from now by future geologists who will look at the ancient footprints and ponder the irony, humour and double entendre lifestyle of the bygone Canadians.

  2. markbialczak says:

    My greatest wish for you, Ross, is that some grass will come up in that dirt, along with a nice mix of green weeds. Soon enough you can go back to your usual state of satisfaction with your lawnesque state of living! Nice work, my friend, to fill in that pool divot. Sounds similar to what I leave on the golf course with my pitching wedge.

  3. 9 yds of gravel + some large rocks = Celtic maze

      • Yeah, that’s exactly the right response. You walk through the spiral maze, see, and you get real contemplative and stuff. Or skip the big rocks, and just rake the gravel in patterns every day, also very zen. Or get even bigger rocks, 80 bluestone pillars in fact, and do a Stonehenge thing.
        That’s a lot of rocks. Maybe use instead the old cat scratching posts you’ve no doubt got piled in the garage, a lot easier on your back.

        • rossmurray1 says:

          This all sounds like… work. I think I’ve made it clear where I stand on… work.

          • Zero work, dude, go to Acolyte.org (formerly Henchmen.com but they went nonprofit) and get yourself some helpers. You don’t have to pay them anything!! And the incense keeps mosquitoes away. Just be sure to list them as “disciple/apostle/altar-person” when you fill out the Articles of Incorporation. Or maybe it’s Incorporeal for a church, better check with your accountant.

  4. Roadtirement says:

    Take more photos and sell to the tabloids explaining you have a crop circle in your yard complete with alien footprints.

  5. Quite the challenge! Have you considered sod? Not nearly as much fun to write about and wildly expensive I imagine. Don’t give up!

  6. mcutting2 says:

    It might just be the angle, or quality of the picture, or talent of the photographer, but it definitely looks like something is about to erupt, Alien-like, from the giant patch of dirt on your lawn! Now that would be a GREAT column!

  7. pinklightsabre says:

    Few notes here: best first line ever. And totally relate to this through and through. Think of you often when I’m contending with our massive lawn hole, for obvious reasons (that book of yours). I could see all this vividly, the storytelling matches the pace of the tasks. I love that…and because I too just shifted many wheelbarrow loads from one part of our yard to another. Can see you sitting there staring at the seeds wishing them to grow.
    So I just finished David Mitchell’s first two books. Second one was a blip, strike it from his portfolio: but the first one is like a template for Cloud Atlas, which is cool to see him “growing” that idea so early on. And there’s a Paul Auster reference which made me think of you. Five years ago now to the date almost you turned me on to Paul Auster I think. Innit that odd.

  8. My non-gardening partner here decided we needed to re-sod the weeds into some sort of green carpet grassed lawn and did this whole thing with chemical analysis and two or three special delivery types of soil in giant bags brought by trucks and cranes and then he did a ph test and demanded child labour to dig and rake which was followed by mixing of soil and dirt and compost because everybody who knows lawns knows that grass needs nutrients to grow and then came the watering and…

    Well, the raccoons turn it up to look for grubs. 🙂

  9. 1kaur says:

    Made my day. “…the only thing our lawn has in common with level is the letter L.” I empathize, and so do my ankles. Loved it all.

  10. beth says:

    i say spray paint it green and call it a day. mix in a few yellow golden dog spots for effect, and you’re good to go.

  11. We’ve had trouble lately with gigantic flat bed trucks carrying almost as gigantic marine equipment driving through our front yard. My husband was never a lawn guy–but he sure is now. We feel your pain, and I like the spray paint idea!

  12. Pingback: Pesky critters bugging me | Writer of Words, etc

  13. Is that the before or the after picture? If it’s the after, just give it up already.

  14. I was going to suggest removing the chain link gate and growing the hedge in, to hide it, but decided that was a workaround. Looks like a lunar landscape. (Lunar Ha!) I love how you self- entertain with your puns. Best article I’ve seen on lawn un-care. Let it grow!

  15. cat9984 says:

    Have you thought about letting it return to nature?

Go ahead, don't be shy.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.