If It’s Green, It’s Grass… And Other Frugal Lawn Care Musings

20140320-183648.jpgOne Saturday not too long ago, Mr PoP was home enjoying his morning cup of coffee when the door bell rang. What joy!

It was a young gentleman from Truly Scape. For those of you not in the know, Truly Scape is one arm of the pest control company, Truly Nolen, and this ambitious young salesman was going door to door hawking lawn services. And since Mr PoP loves little more than being entertained by an ambitious sales pitch, he let the kid go for it.

Kid: I see that it looks like your yard could use some fertilizer. We have a service that would come out and fertilize your lawn for you so it would grow faster and fuller.
Mr PoP: Wait, that means I’d just have to cut it more often, right? Are you trying to create work for me?
(Strike 1 for the kid.)

Kid: Okay, but I see you’ve got some weeds in your yard. We have a treatment that kills the weeds in your yard.
Mr PoP: What, you mean my wild-flowers? But that’s how I can tell when it needs to be cut. Besides, what would the lawn look like if all the “weeds” went away?
(Strike 2 for the kid.)

Kid: Well, it’d actually look better. See, after we kill the weeds, we could plant more grass but you’d probably need to water more often. Don’t you think your lawn would look better if it wasn’t patches of green and brown?
Mr PoP: Hell no, I’m colorblind! No really, I can’t tell the difference between green and brown. Lawn looks pretty great to me…
(Strike 3 for the kid. He’s out.)

Personally, I think Mr PoP is kind of mean for letting the kid go through his entire sales pitch knowing it was for naught. But Mr PoP thought it was a valuable exercise for the kid to keep honing his sales technique. “An act of Christian charity,” as Mark Twain* would have said.

Mr PoP’s charity aside, it was a nice reminder that we haven’t succumbed to lawn-style inflation and we’re still adhering comfortably to our philosophy on lawn care.

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Dollar weed is so nice to walk on, why would you want to kill it?

There are two definitions that guide much of our philosophy when it comes to lawn care.

  1. A weed is growth in a location where it is undesired. Under this definition, grass that has grown over the barriers into our gravel beds are weeds and will be pulled/killed.
  2. If it’s green, it’s grass. Here, this definition refers to low-lying greenery in an area that one would traditionally call a “lawn”.  Dandelions and dollar weed that grow in our front and back lawns amongst other low-lying greenery are just as much “grass” to us as are their cousins, St Augustine grass remaining from the last time someone sodded the yard a decade (or more?) ago.

Adopting these two definitions makes lawn care much less expensive and much more enjoyable. How?

  1. Water is expensive. If we were to water our lawn regularly with city water, we could easily double our water bill from ~$80/month to $160 or more. I have a friend in a tiered billing area, and she says in the months they water their lawn their water bill is easily $200-$250/month. Seriously expensive! Not to mention wasteful. On my early morning runs, I regularly see sprinklers that spend more of their rotation pointing into the street than toward the lawn. That’s literally money down the (storm) drain.
  2. Mowing takes time. (And time is money!) It takes Mr PoP a solid hour or so to mow our lawn. Another hour to mow at the duplex. During our rainy season, he’s out there mowing once per week at both locations to keep up with the thick growth. But when the dry season comes, he gets a break. Mr PoP can chill and relax a little more knowing that he’s only got a quick mow once every 4-6 weeks to knock down the stragglers that stick up more than a couple inches from the rest of the lawn.

It Could Be Even Easier To Care For

Really, if our property was more set-up for it, we would consider graveling the entire property and planting native shrubs similar to Ms Munoz’s front yard in the slideshow attached to this recent NYT piece, Brown is the New Green. Heck, it’d be a step up from the concrete slab painted green that was the “grassy courtyard” in my old apartment building.

But since neither gravel nor green concrete would look all that great next to our lake, we’re just going to keep the current status quo on lawn care of “benign neglect”. After all, if it’s good enough for Warren Buffett’s investment portfolio, it’s got to be good enough for our lawn, right?

Have you succumbed to lawn-style inflation? What’s your lawn care philosophy?

* 10 bonus points to anyone who knows what Twain was referring to as an act of Christian Charity.

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