For an undetermined number of years, our yard was a visual manifestation of indiscriminate vegetation and an object lesson in natural regression. In early spring, a domination of henbit or chickweed and a few other very un-lawnlike natural protrusions produced a mottled conglomeration of blooms and foilage. In mid spring, crabgrass began to emerge, intermingled with fescue and whatever else was in the “sun or shade” mix I bought from Wal-Mart, Lowes, Menards or Uncle Sid’s Seasonal Market & Sundries.
Then, as the temperature rose each year and transitioned from spring to summer, Bermuda grass sprouted in the midst of dying chickweed or henbit and began to earnestly work its way into the flower beds and garden plots. Depending on rainfall, water grass would take over in other spots, presumably determined by the interactions of natural drainage and a random plot generator.
It took me three years of persistent efforts to secure a twenty-by-forty strip of greenish, sod-like surface under two of the big Chinese elm trees. That involved at least four separate seedings, each followed by weeks of daily watering. The rest of the yard continued its seasonal fluctuations and irritations.
My latest efforts in this fool’s errand of actually having a lawn involved renting a de-thatcher and then raking up about five thousand square feet of plant detritus and dislodged debris. By hand, quite literally, I spread several pounds of fescue, bluegrass and perennial ryegrass seed, mixed with fertilizer and “soil conditioner” and guaranteed to give me a thicker, richer, greener lawn. Provided, of course, that I dedicate the next six months of my life to twice daily marinations from a garden hose.
About three days after I sowed that fifty-by-one-hundred-foot strip, summer slammed into south central Kansas. Admitting the limitations of middle-aged memory and an overly human tendency to exaggerate, I think our daily highs here have been over ninety degrees for at least twelve of the last fifteen days. It hasn’t rained in about three weeks. My water bill will probably be in the neighborhood of a hundred-and-fifty dollars next month.
Less than half of the seed I sowed has sprouted. Let’s say the conditions haven’t been ideal for lawn starting. Sometimes it’s just not the best time for attempting what it is we want to accomplish. Sometimes, no amount of effort can overcome the reality of the situation. We can bash our heads or dash our heels against the hard crust of drought and heat. We can either wait for better conditions or pay the water bill and keep hoping for the best.
On the up side, the Bermuda grass is looking much better… sometimes the thing that wasn’t really our goal turns out to be a better alternative.