I have given up grass.
OK, I admit that’s not entirely true. I can’t cut it out altogether. It’s a serious addiction, one that was threatening my mental health, so I dramatically reduced the amount of grass I was using.
I had to do it. Grass was making me depressed. It caused me to lose focus.
I would stand in our family room and look out into the backyard and all I could think about was grass. Ugly, muddy, brown, patchy grass.
In the seven years that we have lived in our house, we have never been able to generate a nice lawn in the small backyard. There was grass out there when we bought the place, but I quickly realized that it was just cheap sod laid out quickly and inexpertly to make the place more attractive to potential buyers. It never took root because the backyard doesn’t get enough sun.
Left to its own devices – and considering my lack of handiness, every part of our house is left to it own devices – the ground in the backyard is marshy and dank. Much of the yard was covered for years by a trampoline, so I was able to put up with the lack of attractive greenery in the small remaining open areas.
The trampoline kept the kids happy, and there were still enough patches of forlorn grass for the dogs to do their business. these two subjects – entertaining children and managing the waste output of canines – were major concerns of my life for many years, so if they were taken care of, I could watch TV in peace.
But the kids got too old for the trampoline, and it fell into disrepair. I was left with an ugly hunk of metal and plastic sitting in the middle of an ugly patch of vegetation that didn’t really deserve to be called grass.
Even the dogs didn’t like walking on it, preferring the nearby concrete instead. when you have a lawn that is so bad it insults the natural sensibilities of Labradors, something must be done.
Two years ago, I wrote a column bemoaning the state of my front lawn and the damage done to it by my two boys and two dogs. I talked about how I wished I could replace the grass with artificial turf, which would require none of two precious resources: water and my attention.
Back then, I checked out the price and declared it hugely unaffordable due to the large size of my front yard. There is a reason high school booster clubs take years to raise money for turf fields.
However, my backyard is only half as big as my front yard, making it only remarkably unaffordable to cover with turf. I was shocked when my wife, who will go to three different stores to save $6 on groceries, agreed that we should spend the money.
“I am sick of looking at it,” she said. “I am tired of being embarrassed about our backyard.”
So we wrote a check from our home equity line and, presto, we have a backyard that will never turn brown and never need mowing or watering.
We spent money we didn’t have to pay for something artificial and entirely cosmetic just so we could feel better about ourselves. if that ain’t the quintessential American decision, I don’t know what is.
The way I look at, the economy needs a little irrational exuberance, and my contribution looks like a putting green.
Of course, I did notice an immediate downside. A golf ball looks great sitting on a putting green. Dog waste, not so much. as ugly as my old backyard was, its general squalor hid a lot of specific unpleasantries.
Now that my backyard is nice, I have to keep it nice, which means more scooping duty, which is OK since it forces me to spend more time enjoying the backyard that I spent borrowed money on.
We had a few people over for a party the first weekend the turf was installed. when they looked out into the backyard, before they even said a word, I felt compelled to say, “It’s fake.”
This must be what a woman who has just had plastic surgery feels like. the improvement is so dramatic that it can’t be denied. as much as you’ve always wanted to do it, how do you present the results in a socially and aesthetically organic way?
Then I walked out onto my front lawn, the one that is still grass, and realized an essential truth: In Southern California, “real” grass is for more artificial than the plastic turf I put in my backyard.
This is a desert, for crying out loud. Keeping a lawn green in this climate is like trying to keep a cup of coffee warm in Antartica.
In his famous collection of poetry “Leaves of Grass,” Walt Whitman wrote: “I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars.”
I agree, but I also think Walt would be impressed with my backyard. I know my dogs are.
Paul Silva writes a weekly column for the Beach Reporter in Manhattan Beach. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
<a href="http://www.dailynews.com/opinions/ci_17229632tag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.dailynews.com/opinions/ci_17229632Sun, 30 Jan 2011 09:10:03 GMT 00:00″>Paul Silva: It’s time to pass on the grass