Readers, if you’re easily offended don’t read today’s post. I’m venting – but with a purpose. People seem to be under stress these days and quickly spin out of control. We should try to remember that lawns and gardens shouldn’t be taken so seriously that we forget to be humane to one another.
Lawns in our area struggle – we have heat and drought that stresses the turf, plus other problems that can crop up in the yard. It is, after all, a living system and nature will do whatever it wants.
Part of my job is to pay house calls on sick lawns, and 99 times out of 100 the people I meet are friendly and kind. But then there’s that last one-percent, where an innocent Lawncheck turns into a horror story:
I was called out on a lawncheck visit, arriving to find everything looking calm. A sweet lady answered the door and she, along with her equally kind-seeming husband, came out to the front yard to show me the first of their problems – little suckers in their lawn.
Some trees do this – produce suckers from the roots as a way of multiplying themselves. It’s natural. It’s normal. But these folks wanted the suckers to die.
They asked what to spray and I told them “nothing, really, just mow them down.” Oh, good heavens you’d have thought I kicked their dog! Do you remember that movie “Gremlins” where the cute fuzzy lil guys turn into hideous monsters?? Three minutes into this lawncheck and that lady changed right before my eyes (it’s a velociraptor!).
Screaming “ARE YOU TELLING ME THERE’S NO POISON TO KILL THEM?” her entire personality changed. I answered “Umm…not really. The jury’s out on whether the products on the market can be translocated back and harm the mother tree. Mowing them down is an easy way to keep them in control.”
Her volume got louder. “I’M NOT ABOUT TO LIVE WITH THIS….THIS…THIS STUFF COMING UP IN MY YARD! IT’S THEIR TREE,” she shrieked, turning and pointing to the neighbor’s house. “YOU TELL THEM TO CUT DOWN THAT TREE! CUT IT DOWN!”
At this point the previously gentle husband heard the neighbor backing out of their garage (blithely unaware of the imminent danger) and he – I kid you not – ran out into the street and put himself in front of their car to stop them. Grabbing the driver’s open window, he yelled, “IT’S YOUR TREE! IT’S YOUR TREE! DO YOU HEAR THAT?? IT’S YOUR TREE!” (No further proof is needed to convince me velociraptors travel in pairs).
Arbitrating neighbor relations is a pitfall I try to stay away from in my business; often they end in litigation. I don’t know the whole story on either side and blowups could stem from years of conflict having nothing to do with plants.
Besides, I was too busy fighting off the vicious savagery of a woman who clearly needed medication, all the while keeping a wary eye on the husband who was slavering all over that poor neighbor’s car in his attempt to disembowel her.
Then – horror of horrors – the neighbor made her escape, and I was left to face them BOTH. They took me into the back yard where they showed me their second problem: sod gone bad. As is often the case, it stemmed from problems with watering.
But here’s a funny thing about humans: in many cases folks just don’t want to believe that operator error is what caused the problem. It’s much easier to have a bug or disease to blame, or spray to get rid of. Watering issues are challenging; you turn your system on and water flies everywhere, so how can water be the problem?
But look closely at the arc of the spray as it courses over the lawn. Try to see if the water is spreading evenly across the area, reaching far enough to give head-to-head coverage. Then run a quick catch-can test to see if you’re delivering enough water. Take six to eight cans (all the same size) and lay them out in the area of watering. Run your system for a normal cycle, and then measure the water in each can. Add the depths together, and then divide by the number of cans. The result is the average amount of water that zone put on the lawn during its cycle. For information on how much to water, check out the helpful CSU Watering Established Lawns publication.
But would this couple believe that improper watering was the problem? NOOOOOO. Why that’s the same thing the sod company guy said when he came out.
“YOU PEOPLE ARE ALL THE SAME!” came the piercing shriek from the female as she prepared to hunt again. “YOU’RE ALL IN CAHOOTS WITH ONE ANOTHER!” Even the male was frightened by this, and scurried off to run the sprinkler system when she gave the word.
It was the longest hour of my life.