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  Wednesday January 28th, 2015    

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The grass is not always greener (08/10/2011)
By Frances Edstrom

I donít claim to have a green thumb, but a person who has lived with various lawns during a lifetime should be able to grow grass, donít you think?

All I remember about the grass at my childhood home was that it needed mowing and raking. No one in our neighborhood, which was overrun with future aging Baby Boomers, seemed to obsess over a lawn. No one put out a sprinkler unless it was for the kids to run through. No one that I remember used herbicides or fertilizer. Once in a while theyíd throw seed out on a bare spot, and put a string fence around it. But mostly, lawns were to keep the dust down so it wouldnít blow around and get the sheets on the line dirty again. Grass was to put swing sets on, to play on, to find night crawlers in, and to put lawn chairs on.

There was one person in town that my father admired who had paved over his lawn and painted it green each spring. I think my dad would have done that, too, except that the increase in kidsí dental and medical bills would be a drawback.

Our first few houses were rentals, where the grass seemed to grow apace, especially if we had a deal with the landlord that we were in charge of mowing. But then we bought a house in the country that had a crown vetch patch instead of a lawn. It was so overgrown that we couldnít have the kids play there for fear we wouldnít be able to locate them when it was time to come in for supper. So, they played on the fenced concrete pad on top of the garage, and seemed perfectly happy until my parents came to visit.

My folks thought that their grandchildren needed a swing set, so they and Johnís parents bought them one. Now, where to put it? Certainly not on the concrete pad. My dad went to work, with the help of my brother, to transform the vetch patch into a lawn. In order to do so, he had to buy a lawn mower, since we didnít own one. My mother had brought gladiola bulbs from her garden, and planted a nice little border. So when they hopped in their car at the end of the week to continue their journey exploring America, we were left with a lawn, that was really mostly mown vetch, and the kids had a swing set. It was assumed that we, as the parents, would keep the vetch down to a safe depth.

When we moved into town, with the dogs, the kids, the sandy soil and the water bill, maintaining a lawn was a battle. Heck, maintaining sanity was a battle! But we knew it could be done, because our neighbor, Kent, always had a perfect lawn. So we did what we could, which never was quite enough.

Now, in our new house, we have lots of lawn, which with all the rain and a soil that doesnít rush water through to the water table at breakneck speed, looks pretty good. Except for spots from the dog.

No problem, I thought, just throw down some grass seed. But it doesnít work. I thought perhaps Iíd gotten the wrong kind of seed. The seed never took root on the lawn, but a little seed I spilled in the garage, next to where I stored the bag of seed, suddenly grew. On the concrete floor, there it is. Nice and long and green. Grass. But none on the lawn, in the dirt.

That hurt. But to add insult to injury, all of a sudden grass began to grow on the back deck under the bird feeder, where the birds throw out the seed they donít want so they can get at the good stuff.

Grass growing in the garage. Grass growing on the deck. No grass on the lawn. Iím thinking about calling the cement guy and stocking up on green paint. 


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