Thursday, June 11, 2015


On a recent Sunday afternoon I noticed a boy across the street, about four years old, helping to guide the weed whacker that his father operated. I should say that he had on eye protection and was well back from the spinning strings. It occurred to me that if I lacked enthusiasm for lawn care in my childhood, it might have been because the tools of the day made less noise and offered fewer dangers. But as far as I can remember, I regarded lawn care as something invented for the oppression of young boys, something that ate up time in weeding or mowing when I could have been doing something else. I don't think that it occurred to me much to relate the mowing to the possibility of playing football, kickball, whiffle ball or tag on that lawn.

For many years, I didn't do much, or any lawn care. Under the trees in Takoma Park, grass grows slowly and sparse. Every three weeks would have kept the lawn more or less decent, and sometimes I managed that. After that, we lived in an apartment and then in a townhouse development, where contractors cared for the lawns. When we first moved here, we used a mowing service until the proprietor ceased to answer phone calls.

This my fourth season of mowing. I expect that I could think up as many alternatives to mowing as I did in my childhood, but I don't much mind it. It is time outside, for one thing. For another, there is the satisfaction of seeing the lawn look better. I suppose that I am turning into the suburbanite who looks censoriously at uncut lawns.

I haven't played kickball in forty-five years, touch football in thirty. Yet I am concerned for the grass and worry a bit when my wife speaks of encroaching on it with new or enlarged flower beds. Grass is good ground cover all year, whether growing or dormant, and the dirt on which it grows won't wash away. Grass does not require mulching, so leaves raked off the grass do not bring mulch along with them. In this climate one need not water grass; it will become yellow in the high summer, but will become green again when the weather cools and the rains come back.

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