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COLUMN: The grass is always greener — next door
When you live in a neighbourhood dotted with an abundance of finely fertilized lawns and colourful, well-coiffed shrubbery, it’s always a relief to have that one home on the block with the unkempt yard. It takes the pressure off.
If you miss a week cutting the grass or haven’t gotten around to trimming your laurel hedge, comparatively, your yard still gets passable grades. It’s like having a weekend mulligan to use at your discretion.
Our last house was in Vancouver Heights, a little enclave near the PNE with great views of the North Shore. Many of the homes there were old-timers with mature shrubs and gardens.
There was a lot of house pride in the neighbourhood, but there were still enough yards with patchy grass, fields of dandelions and shabby shrubs that I never felt like I was bringing down property values.
That’s changed recently since we moved to Deep Cove. I love my new neighbourhood. But I think I’m now the guy whose yard is giving others the weekend off.
I take pride in my yard too but I’m still a relative novice. I don’t have all of the proper skills or speciality equipment required to really make a yard pop.
At our last home, I toiled in my yard in relative anonymity as I practised pruning and weed whacking. I enjoyed it, really.
But now, in our new neighbourhood I feel more a sense of desperation when I look around at the golf-green lawns and bushes with ruler-straight lines.
To be fair, the lawn I inherited wasn’t in the finest shape, especially in the front. Scorched earth really. The rest was moss.
I immediately felt self-conscious about my grass. Like people were judging me by my lawn. Shortly after we moved in last August I got to work.
It would have been easier, cheaper and probably much more effective if I’d called a professional lawn care outfit. The fact that flyers and business cards of lawn companies were accumulating at a steady pace in our mailbox only served to reinforce my feelings of yard inadequacy.
But I wasn’t going to pay somebody to fix my mess, so I borrowed a hand aerator and another medieval-looking bladed instrument for raking out moss. In all, over the course of two weekends I accumulated more than a dozen bags of moss. I also broke one rake and now have mild tendonitis in my raking arm. But it was worth it.
It was too late to seed by the time the moss was eradicated, so the rest of the summer was spent playing on a dirt field that had a few rogue blades of grass. My three-year-old son refused to play soccer in the front yard with bare feet, calling the surface “sprigley.”
This year more determined than ever — and convinced my lawn has become the topic of neighbourhood derision — I bought several dozen bags of topsoil and bags of shade-friendly grass seed.
For weeks, I have been nurturing the seedlings. Fertilizer, water, waiting. Then, it began to grow. It looked a little jungly at first, but when I mowed it this weekend it resembled a green carpet. I admired my work from our deck for some time.
My wife didn’t notice the front lawn when she arrived home.
I asked her to step out on the deck and take a look. She agreed, it was starting to resemble a lawn. Her enthusiasm was more muted than I expected — on par with when I remember to buy her organic milk or voluntarily clean out the bathroom sink after shaving.
I wonder if any of my neighbours have noticed?
Even if they have, until somebody with no garden game moves into the neighbourhood the pressure’s still on.