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The lawn around Huntoon Haven is not continuous…there are pieces here and there, probably totaling maybe half an acre or so.  No one can see it from the street.  From inside the house a lot of it is not visible out any window.  So, why then, have I become a lawn maniac?

I used to tell people we moved to the country and privacy to get out of the suburban game of competitive lawn growing.  You know, the guy out with the tweezers plucking a life out of a tiny weed; the endless rounds of food and bug killers and crabgrass preventers.  Have dandelions?  Better get ‘em or the neighbors will tack a petition to your door. 

And watering. We do not live in an arid region and water is available, but it is not free and yet the lawn maniac dumps oceans of the stuff on the lawns when summer starts parching them.   And forget about grass seed when starting a new area—call the sod guys.  Nice, thick and instant.

What then has led me to become at least a Junior Lawn Maniac?  Part of it is to allow anyone circumnavigating the house to be able to walk at minimum on nice grass, rather than the mud that once was there in spots.  Since we have flowers and shrubs on all sides, this has become more relevant. Scraping mud off shoes is a drag for homeowners and will get a big frown from guests.

Our home fix-ups have also always been done with an eye toward resale. We have no plans to do that any time soon, but one never does  know.   A nice lawn is a default value for real estate buyers. (See The New York Times "Market Ready" piece on this.) Nobody will pay anything for it (unlike for a new kitchen or bath), but if it is deficient, it’s bad first impression time.  Take away reasons to have a bad first impression.  That’s a goal.

But the reason I can reach no higher than Junior Maniac status is that I pay someone to do all this stuff.  A local company called Greentouch is just perfect.   At various times they have put in sod, re-graded a large area for better drainage, and of course they apply all manner of nostrums to the lawn every month or so, as well as to most of the trees and shrubs near the house.  

Most recently I have had them install an irrigation system.  Now when I think of irrigation I think of the Tigris and Euphrates or the Nile or something like that, but this is of course a strategic set of submerged watering heads that pop up at programmed times and run for programmed durations.  This is something I think will make a future buyer smile, because it eliminates all the hoses and sprinkler, or the option of just letting the grass brown out in the summer.  And the lawn is divided into zones, which gives it all a kind of combat feel.  It’s me against the forces of nature. Every Monday morning starting at 4 a.m., the system does each zone one at a time for an hour, which drops about an inch of rain equivalent.  In general that avoids the winds that come up later in the day. And I log some REM time while all this is happening.

And this fall they will verticut some seed into various areas that need it.  For years I’ve thrown out grass seed and covered it with straw and that has more often than not worked well, but the verticut puts it a bit underground where it has a better chance.  A thick lawn is one of the best defenses against weeds.

I could go to the rent everything place and get one of those seeding machines for an hour or two.  I could buy more spreaders and sprayers for applying the food or an insect blaster or whatever.  Instead I have a side garage that is uncluttered, nicely organized and I don’t need to keep gasoline around for machines or litter the walls of the garage with spreaders and such hanging up.  

And all this activity means the grass grows, and gets watered, and it grows some more.  For over 17 years I have had our guy Jay,  who runs a mowing business, do the mowing.  Again I don’t need to buy an expensive mower and keep it running or keep trimmers around.  

So, lawn perfection is always the goal, but never the reality.  That keeps Greentouch and Jay in business, and their good services free me up to use my skills at what I am best at.  The garage is not filled to the gills with lawn worship devices.  I don’t have to ride herd on the people that help me—they are professionals.

One of the serene activities of retirement is watching the grass grow.