by Mike Todd
“Am I supposed to be ashamed of this?” I asked my friend Sergey, hoping that he would be honest with me but perhaps a little less honest than he tends to be when informing me of the territorial gains my Napoleonic bald spot, the great conqueror of my cranium, is making.
Sergey cocked his head, unsure of which antecedent I’d intended for “this.” The possibilities were pretty much endless. I pointed at the lawn under his feet to focus the discussion.
“Oh, what, the weeds? Yeah, I think adults are supposed to be ashamed of them, but at this point you’d pretty much have to nuke your lawn with Roundup and start over. Probably not worth it. We let the weeds win at our house, too,” he said.
Another friend volunteered that there is something called the Scott’s Annual Four-Step Program for creating a healthy lawn. I know nothing about this program, except for Step 1: “Remove wallet from pocket, annually.”
For me, lawn care is primarily a shame-based activity. When I look at our yard and think, “Surely, the neighbors are judging us for this,” that’s how I know it’s time to mow. Sometimes, if I let it go a few days beyond that point, the lady across the street will remind us that we’re a little overdue. She’ll do this by dressing up like an Austrian nun and prancing through our yard, singing, “The hills are alive with the sound of muuuuusic…”
The height of the grass used to be my primary shame-point, but now I’m also ashamed that there’s really not much grass out there at all anymore. The weeds have completely taken over. If weeds are like teenagers, then we are like the cool parents who let them do whatever they want. They’ve come to our house, and they’re never going to leave.
Perhaps people are not judging as much as I assume, but like it or not, the home-owning public seems to have arrived at the consensus that your yard is a reflection of you, which means that I am 97 percent dandelion.
Just last week, though, I saw a fantastic remedy to the problem of lawn maintenance in the form of an article in the Washington Post, written by fellow lawn care unenthusiast Sarah Baker, titled: “My township calls my lawn ‘a nuisance.’ But I still refuse to mow it.”
According to Ms. Baker, you know what happens when you refuse to mow your yard? The town comes and mows it for you. It’s a win-win, except for the $1,000 fine that precedes the mowing.
The author argues that lawns are environmentally detrimental, besides being a tremendous waste of time and resources. Who would disagree that we couldn’t find a better way to put our time to use? Just think of how much time we could free up for more important things, like staring at our phones more or spending more time with our kids while we stare at our phones more.
Ms. Baker also gives a philosophical underpinning to my slothful tendencies, which is important to keep the ruse going.
“Lazy? Oh, no, you’ve got me all wrong. I’m creating habitat.”
It feels like there could be a movement afoot here. Sergey and I can’t be the only ones who would prefer to let the weeds take over. Join us, sit back and watch the crabgrass grow.
Hopefully, the message will continue to get out and spread like the botanical species that now comprise my yard. Not everyone needs to stop mowing all at once. No, this movement could start with just one person, preferably in my neighborhood. That way, we won’t have the worst yard anymore.
You can fertilize your lawn with Mike Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.