Keeping up with the Joneses

I walked to church today; it’s two miles one way, mostly shaded with sidewalks, and very pleasant if one doesn’t mind sweating profusely.  I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now.  I should have been doing it for a few years now, but laziness got in the way.  And it does take some pre-planning, since I have to have clothes to change into waiting in the choir robe room.  But it’s good for me, good for my gasoline budget, and good for the environment.  And I enjoy it!

One reason I enjoy it is that it gives me a chance to look at all the yards and landscaping between here and there.  It’s entirely a residential neighborhood, so there are lots of yards to look at.  Some people have lush, green yards that are perfectly manicured.  They’re clearly spending a lot of money on water and a lawn service.  Some people have lush, green yards that are otherwise kind of scruffy looking.  They’re spending a lot of money on water, but doing their lawns themselves.  Some people have mostly green lawns with a few brown spots.  They’re spending a lot of money on water, but they’re not getting their money’s worth because their sprinklers are missing those brown spots.  Then there are yards like mine, with about half and half green and brown.  We’re not spending much on water, and our sprinklers are a hit-or-miss proposition.  There are some yards that are pretty much shot.  The only green things are weeds, and they’re very tall.  And then there’s one…I’m not sure what happened there, but it looks like the whole lawn burned.  The earth is black and scorched-looking and even the weeds are dead.  Maybe it did burn.

A few lucky people have small yards, and they’ve done away with their need for water by smart planting and landscaping. For most of them, the majority of their front yard is taken up by driveway, and the rest is trees and/or shrubs and other plantings that can survive with very little water.  That’s my long term goal.  The only problem is that I have a large yard, on a corner lot.  Most of the corner lots I saw were pretty lush and green.  It’s going to take an enormous amount of time to get my project done, because I’m doing it myself, and because only so much of my budget is allocated to that every month.  So for a while longer my large corner lot is going to look pretty scruffy compared to most of the other large corner lots in my neighborhood. 

Fortunately I’m not in a homeowner’s association, so xeriscaping is no problem.  Many homeowners in Florida are not allowed to do the environmentally responsible thing, but have to keep spending all that money on water so they don’t get brown spots in their lawns.

I don’t know why St. Augustine grass ever became the lawn of choice down here.  It’s a water hog, it’s uncomfortable to walk on barefoot or to sit on, it’s vulnerable to weeds and insects, and it spreads with runners like crab grass, so if you don’t stay on top of it, it goes places you’d rather it didn’t. Several years ago, about this time of year, I was in Indianapolis for a conference, and spent a couple of hours one day sitting on the grass in a park, just because it felt so good.  I miss regular grass.

So, since I can’t replace my whole lawn with some other kind of grass (without spending a lot of money on water to get it established), my eventual goal is to have very little grass at all.  I’ve started in a couple of spots, and I’ve got to take before and after pictures soon.  The plan is gradually coming together in my head.  I can’t wait to see what it will look like eventually.  I think the neighbors will approve.


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