Sunday, September 6, 2009

Get Down, Get Grubby

When the kids and I arrived home from our vacation, I saw that the whole yard was brown. " It's just dormant" said Brian. My gut told me something different. Upon closer inspection I almost lost the contents of that gut. An easy tug and the brown grass came up like a carpet revealing the enemy. Grubs. The war was on.

Like most wars, this one began long before the first shot was fired. I'm the Lawn Master around here. I take pride in my attempts to keep a sea of emerald...ok, it's not that emerald. But it's my yard. Ours. No, mine. I fertilize it and weed it and mow it. My yard.

Last fall is when the back-story to this war began. I had decided that my yard would not contribute to global warming, and pollution and all that other nasty stuff that chemicals do to the environment. I was going to go green with my yardcare. It just sounds so wonderful. doesn't it? All natural, not harmful to kids or animals or our water source. Who doesn't want a green yard.. just for the color alone?

I began with internet research which led me to this site: Organic Lawncare for the Cheap and Lazy ( Bells rang, angels sang the whole thing made so much sense. I can do this!!

I didn't jump in 100%. I took the suggestions and did some test patches on my lawn. Compost, topsoil, tall fescue seed, I did what this site suggests and was rewarded with beautiful patches of perfect grass. How easy! I could do this for my whole yard!

Come spring, empowered by the winter of yard planning, I set forth to become the first on my block to have a fabulous, and eco friendly yard. I was even contemplating placing little signs like the yard care companies do " This fantastic yard was treated with tender loving care and no chemicals".

I laid down compost, and fresh topsoil and many many pounds of tall fescue seed. When that germinated and was mowable I put down organic lawn food instead of chemical fertilizer. My grass really liked it and was rewarding me. However, the dandelion ( those yellow weeds), henbit ( those little purple weeds) and bindweed ( that viney white weed) loved it even more. The theory that the grass would ultimately take over the weeds spurred me on... for a bit.

Finally, I could take it no more and fell off the wagon. I applied (GASP!) Weed-B-Gone. Weeds died. YAY! I applied more grass food. Then life got in the way of my best intentions and the yard was on it's own .

With all the work, all the product ,all the care I put into my yard I forgot one important element: I did not apply grub killer. I didn't even think about grubs. I was wrapped up in nurturing the grass. I was so involved in my image of a ( cue echo) Green Lawn . I had complete control over the life of these larvae ( of the japanese beetle) but I ignored them. And they rewarded me with destruction when I turned my back.

I spent a week tearing up the yard, peeling away the dead grass, hauling it away and dumping 30 lbs of grub killer on the remaining yard. The next week was spent laying grass seed and dragging sprinklers around until God helped out with some much needed, and nitrogen rich, rain.

Thankfully, the work that I had done earlier this year had enriched the soil and the grass was sprouting and growing to mowing length within a couple of weeks. Even though there are weeds present, I don't mind as much. I know that the soil is good, the grass is strong and eventually I will be rewarded with a pretty decent looking yard. Maybe not the GREEN YARD I had imagined and had been so wrapped up making happen. Definitely not in the time frame I had given myself. But the yard that will grow with what I have been given: the sun, the shade, the dirt, the knowlege I posses, the time I have to spend on it, the money I have to spend on it, and the energy I have to spend on it

Kinda like parenting, huh? How often do we get so involved in OUR image of what our kids can be that we ignore what is festering inside of them? We might be encouraging and nurturing our little ones to become the people we imagine, concentrating on what the neighbors see... but there might be some unseen element inside of them that will eat away all our misspent work. It is a lesson in looking at the whole picture, not just the visible.

We are always going to be slapped upside the head with crises with our kids. But if we lay the foundation, be ever vigilant, ever aware, do the work on issues below the surface we can turn things back on track. I probably won't be the path we had imagined, but it will be the best path for them, using the elements that make them up. They may have permanent scars, like the difference in my grasses, and the ever present weeds. But that is what makes them human. That is what makes them real. Just like us.

Deep thoughts conclude here. Now I present,for your viewing and educational pleasure...... the pictorial Battle of the Grubs:

" DIE GRUBS DIE!!" is what Noah kept saying as he picked up the gross, white larvae from the dirt I exposed. He would fill the bottom of his toy wheelbarrel with them, dump them on the driveways and stomp on them. Repeat. Part of me was disturbed that my young son was so violent-- but the bigger part of me was thinking exactly the same thing. DIE GRUBS DIE!

The largest patch on the front yard. Cleared, grub killer applied and ready for new seed. There are several smaller patches elsewhere in the yard.

Noah looking to make sure the grubs are gone. I laid seed, germinating fertilizer and straw that day. I watered it all in daily, keeping the soil moist.

God rewarded my efforts with a soft, day long rain. Did you know that your yard gets green after a rain because rainwater contains nitrogen? Not so much with hose water.

The first green grass shoots appeared within the week! I did a happy dance in the yard. It wasn't pretty. I also had to keep yelling " stay off the new grass!!!" to all the neighborhood kids.

Three weeks later, the new grass is part of the lawn... actually, the best looking part of the yard.

Another patch of new yard... already being played on by the kids.
About this time I was talking to my next door neighbor and told her the Tale of the Grubs. She laughed and said " I thought you were just doing another organic grass experiment." I might get that " this yard was treated with tender loving care" sign up one of these days. Maybe two signs. They would make a good goal marker for the kids games!


  1. My favorite line: "my image of a ( cue echo) Green Lawn." Too funny! Yes, I can totally see the parallels -- my kids are both my biggest organic experiments. The pictorial is also great. I think it was very optimistic of you to refer to the yawning gap in your front lawn as a 'patch'.

  2. Love all the pics! That was a ton of work you did, missus!


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