Spring began today at around 1:30 p.m., and I am happy to report I already have a jump on it. Of course, I’m kidding myself.
Last evening, taking advantage of daylight savings (another harbinger of the change in seasons), I laid out on my lawn the first application of fertilizer and weed control. And there are more chemical concoctions stored in my garage, including insect killer, Grub-ex, which purports to kill Japanese Beetle larvae before the grow into the much to be avoided white grubs that destroy entre lawns and villages. That application comes later, when the weather turns summer warm.
By then, I (or my unwilling son) will have mowed the grass about two dozen times just to keep up with the rapid growth triggered in large part by the fertilizer I just put on the lawn. It’s hard to say how much of this cycle of lawn care is nature at work and how much is the end result of the various chemicals in the fertilizer. What I can say is that I have a responsibility to my neighbors to create a perfectly manicured, deeply green lawn and to maintain it that way until the first flakes of snow appear in the fall. There’s nothing written anywhere mandating my compliance; but it is an immutable, unchallengeable fact of suburban life.
None of this can be good for the environment, broadly speaking. The stuff I put on my lawn, for example, is banned in the state of New York, which says something. I’m supposed to keep my Golden well away from the lawn until rain soaks the fertilizer into the earth. Try keeping your dog off grass. There are also strict instructions, right on the bag, warning you not to get any pellets on your shrubs, near trees, and on small children.
All of which makes me question, at least philosophically, whether battling with nature like this is really a good thing. In fact, every Spring I am beset with misgivings about using fertilizer to make my lawn grow faster and greener. Besides which, the weed control element doesn’t work; I always get weeds. If I blacktopped my yard, I’d get weeds. They’re definitely a part of nature no one has ever been able to control.
I’m going to attempt to relax about this and try to enjoy and embrace the advent of Spring. I plan to do the bare minimum of lawn applications and hope for the best (which essentially means hoping that my front yard doesn’t end up looking like an arroyo in Arizona. About embracing Spring: here’s my plan. As I walk behind my mower, or rake out shrub beds, or scoop up dog droppings, I plan to enunciate and repeat out loud, in the style of Professor Henry Higgins, the wondrous names of flowers, which I happen to believe are the eyes of nature.
Follow along, and add your own . . .
Jonquil. Rhododendron. Hyacinth, Hibiscus and Hydrangea. Pansies. Crape Myrtle and Purple Coneflower. Lavender, Lilly and Liriope. Aster and Anemone. Blue Dimple Hosta and sweet gentle buttercup . . .