After 18 days without rain, and another dry week on the horizon, our neighbors in suburban Brentwood are getting some ugly news. Their water supply is down by a third, and they need to cut back on nonessential water use.
If I lived in Brentwood, here’s what I’d do: First, I’d cut down all the Bradford pear trees on my property, because stumps don’t need watering. Brentwood needs more real shade trees, like oaks and maples, and less of those dang Lego-town, Barbie’s-Dream-House-looking Bradford pears.
Second, I’d stop watering the grass. We stopped watering the Jowers grass weeks ago. Ma Nature has been plenty grouchy all year, and I’m not about to piss her off by snubbing her gift of late-summer drought. In a year when the hottest day comes on Sept. 6, and I can sweat up a shirt just sitting in my front porch swing, I’m thankful for short, brown, nearly dead grass that doesn’t need mowing.
Of course, there are plenty of anal-retentive types who’ll fight their microclimate and take heroic measures to save their wilting grass. These are the same people who put water-sealer on their million-year-old limestone outcroppings to protect them from the weather.
I’m just not wired that way. Sure, I know the ceremonies and rituals of proper lawn care. I should mow high (about three inches for my fescue), water deep (about six inches), and fertilize two or three times a year. I should never cut more than a third of the leaf off the grass, and I should never mow wet. I should vary my mowing pattern, so I don’t compact the soil.
I do mow high, because the longer grass is more resistant to bugs and drought, and because it shades out weeds. But I water only sporadically, because I’m too lazy to keep moving the sprinkler, and because my financial priorities don’t include paying a $150-a-month water bill just so I can have a lush carpet of grass. I can’t remember the last time I fertilized.
I mow in the same pattern every time, and I trust the Jowers earthworms to keep the soil from getting compacted. I start at the edge of the yard and work toward the center. I can do this in an all-pushing motion, never once pulling the mower backward. I carefully designed the yardand this mowing patternto minimize the time between me pushing the mower and me sitting my butt down in a plastic chair on the deck, drinking a quart of iced tea and admiring my work.
While I’m on the subject of iced tea, I must share this: My life changed, and all to the better, when wife Brenda took the recommendation of my co-softball coach Joe Beckham, and bought the 3-Quart Iced Tea Pot by Mr. Coffee. All summer, I’ve enjoyed perfect iced tea every day, brewed this way:
1. Put seven family-sized bags of Lipton’s naturally decaffeinated Iced Tea Brew into the top of the teapot.
2. Fill the tea pitcher half-full of hot water and stir in three-quarters of a cup of real, honest-to-God sugar.
3. Slide the pitcher under the teapot’s spigot.
4. Fill the teapot’s water reservoir, turn on the teapot, and wait for the tea to come out.
Wife Brenda says the teapot is available at any decent store with a kitchen section. I say you might want to try Service Merchandise, now that they’ll let you just take your chosen appliance straight from the shelf to the register, instead of taking a little slip of paper to the register, then waiting for an arthritic hamster on a wheel to pull the appliance out of inventory. But that’s just me. Brenda bought ours at Target.
Anyhow, back to the grass: It’s about time to re-seed the lawn. Of course, if you re-seed now, you’ll have to water daily, until the seed germinates. I say wait for wetter weather. You could wait until October or November and get the same, or better, results. If you were in the cicada zone this year, you don’t need to aerate. There are tens of thousands of perfect aeration holes in just about every yard in Nashville.
If you want a perfect lawn, though, buy a house that butts right up to a golf course and hire one of those chemical-truck lawn services.
Visit Walter Jowers’ Web site at http://www.nashscene.com/~housesense. Or you can e-mail him at email@example.com.