Gardening: The price of a beautiful lawn

EILEEN WARD

Following is a satirical look at man's environmentally unfriendly landscaping practices. It was sent to me many years ago by customers from both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

"Winterize your lawn," the big sign outside the garden store commanded. I've fed it, watered it, mowed it, raked it and watched a lot of it die anyway. Now I'm supposed to winterize it? I hope it's too late. Grass lawns have to be the stupidest things we've come up with, outside of thong swimsuits! We constantly battle dandelions, Queen Anne's lace, thistle, violets, chicory and clover that thrive naturally, so we can grow grass that must be nursed through the annual four-step chemical dependency.

Imagine the conversation The Creator might have with St. Francis about this:

"Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the Midwest? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-last blossoms attracted butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles."

"It's the tribes that settled there Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great extent to kill them and replace them with grass."

"Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?"

"Apparently so Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn."

"They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?"

"Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it and put it in bags."

"They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?"

"No Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away."

"Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow and when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?"

"Yes Sir."

"These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work."

"You aren't going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it."

"What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life."

"You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and have them hauled away."

"No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and keep the soil moist and loose?"

"After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves."

"And where do they get this mulch?"

"They cut down trees and grind them up."

"Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?"

"Dumb and Dumber Lord. It's a real stupid movie about... "

"Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story."

* * *

As the New Year approaches we should all try to be more environmentally friendly with our horticultural practices. While the above pokes fun at some of our unfriendly practices we really should do things like leave the fallen leaves in our gardens for natural mulch, not worry so much about a few weeds in our lawns so we don't use so many chemicals and embrace the birds, bees, other insects and small mammals that also call Marco Island home. I will write a more in-depth article about those practices in the new year. I wish everyone a very happy and safe New Years Eve and a prosperous and peaceful 2013!

Eileen Ward and her husband Peter have owned and operated Greensward of Marco, Inc., a lawn maintenance and landscaping company since 1981.

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