Thursday, June 4, 2009 | Here lies my green lawn. Its demise is imminent.
With new city-enforced watering restrictions, I don’t believe my swath of nearly perfect, golf-course quality grass will survive. Given the never-ending drought, I know it’s selfish to want something so decadent. And given the vanishing supply of this natural resource, I don’t expect to ever be OK with wasting water, even if municipal restrictions are eventually lifted.
Now that this type of ecological awareness is mainstream, having a lush green lawn in San Diego is like asking for plastic bags at the grocery store.
But I still think I should be allowed to mourn.
You see, I haven’t had this lawn very long. It came with the house, on my family’s move from urban hip North Park to the ‘burbs of San Carlos just a year ago. I never knew I wanted a traditional lawn before this one.
I’ve never in my adult life had a real yard. I’ve had wooden balconies and concrete patios, access to a fire escape that had a view of Balboa Park’s lovely lawns, and even a terraced canyon lot. But never a big green plot of grass all my own.
At the canyon house, we did put down a chunk of sod in the interest of our two dogs and two kids. It seemed like something our little creatures would like. But we didn’t know what we were doing and it was soon pockmarked with gopher holes and overtaken with weeds. Our Craigslist-acquired pushmower only gnawed at the blades of grass.
When we bought this 1960s-built home, we likewise underestimated the needs of the grass. The yard is flat and unobstructed by trees or planters, and every neighbor for blocks has the same kind of turf. How hard could it be to just water and mow, right?
Except that we never really mastered the automated sprinklers. And while the grass suffered from our under-watering, the weeds flourished. Every two weeks my husband would dutifully mow the weeds with a new gas-powered lawnmower.
We didn’t let the declining state of our lawn bother us too much until we caught neighbors giving it sideways glances of disgust. While out walking the dogs one evening, my husband overheard two neighborhood kids talking about the sad state of our property. “Wow, the people who live there must have died. That used to be such a nice yard.”
So we looked into fixing it. We looked up lawn care online. We researched artificial turf. We even got an estimate to paint the grass green, a quick-fix sometimes used on dormant lawns and to fill in where grass just won’t grow.
But we finally resolved to fix what was there, and acknowledged that we were not qualified to do it ourselves. On the suggestion of the mailman, we hired a yard guy who works for several of our neighbors.
His diagnosis: our yard needed water, and lots of it. He aerated, fertilized and used weed killer on it, but the big transformation came from a regular infusion of good old H2O.
Today, it’s a thing of beauty. My dogs rub their noses in it, my kids chase soccer balls on it and blow bubbles to watch them land without popping on this plush green carpet.
The yard guy says he’s endured water restrictions like this in years gone by. He views the city’s limitations with contempt, as an undue assault on our way of life.
I concede that this has to be our new way of life. That we live in a part of the world where rose bushes and grass were never meant to thrive. Where cactus and rock gardens just make more sense.
So we’ll re-set the sprinklers and wait for the summer sun to do its damage. While I know it’s the right thing to do, I’ll still be a bit sad for the days when the grass on the other side wasn’t actually greener.
Jennifer McEntee is a San Diego writer. You can e-mail her at email@example.com.