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Thursday, December 2, 2010


Not actually my lawn
My front yard has been overtaken by moss. I ignored this encroachment all summer and fall, noting and immediately forgetting the husband's reluctance to mow, which seemed to be linked to an  uncharacteristic (for him) existential despair over the state of the lawn. It was a little easier to forget than it might have been, because our across-the-street neighbor Steve moved out in July.

Steve, you may recall, was a living reproach to me about proper home maintenance. Stay-at-home Steve was tireless, thoroughly capable, and extremely visible. The person who moved in, let's call him Anti-Steve because I haven't met him and have hardly seen him, doesn't mow, weed or rake, or touch up trim, or find any excuse at all to be outside most of the day in most any weather. Instead of a visible reproach to me, this new guy is reproachable himself. He moved in, plopped a yard sculpture of a monkish robed fellow, presumably St. Francis, in my line of sight, and disappeared. Little tree-weeds left to grow in Steve's shrub bed! Leaves thick across the lawn. House lights on day and night and day and night. No sign of life. Give me Steve and his family and his boundless energy for home repair any day! Anti-Steve's next door neighbor has even mowed the lawn and blown the leaves off Steve's old lawn.

The neglect across the way, as well as a peculiar, pale, light frosty hue of green in our yard caused me to actually look at our lawn again. An aquatic-looking spongiform moss had sprung up everywhere. The husband was right: there was practically nothing left to mow. The only unmossy places were the areas with dead crabgrass, and the area along the driveway that we did rip out and reseed in early October, which is looking good. So gratifying: sprinkle seeds in dirt, add water, things grow. We did that after my neighbor who shares the lawn on that side, pigeon-toed, retired Betty, mentioned in passing that she was despairing of the lawn service she'd hired, because crab grass was encroaching anyway. I thought that might be a gentle hint that we weren't poisoning our lawn sufficiently, and that it might be time for me to get off the fence about whether I'm okay with reverting to what nature intended, or if I want to try to keep some grass, if it only requires improving the soil. Along that side, it only required two miserable hours of boring weed-pulling followed by seed sprinkling and then regular watering. No poisons.

Buoyed by the success on the side of the driveway, and by the sight of Pigeon-toed Betty and Tom next door trundling little carts of something across their lawns periodically, I told myself this isn't brain science, I can figure it out. And since the husband actually is a brain doctor, I think we just might succeed.

I checked GardenWeb ( Mossy lawn could very likely be cured by adding lime. As I read this, I remembered that last June I had gone to the effort of having the soil analyzed by the Cornell Cooperative Extension, and their recommendation had been to add lime. I immediately failed to follow up on that, to which I attribute the broken a.c. and the long miserable summer.

After a consultative phone conversation with Laura at the local garden center, I sent off the husband to purchase a lawn product. Said lawn product, while not exactly lime, is ten time more expensive than lime, and three times better, according to Laura. Tom next door, who by the way manages to keep an impeccable yard and work full time, lent us his spreader cart, and we got to work. Too soon to tell if it's working. What it has done is leave little white splotches that look like bird poop on the driveway and little white granules on the lawn. We'll see. Some of the moss is very pretty. 

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