I was recently given a garden plaque, a lovely little faux-stone square that you hang out in the garden. The saying on it, from Alfred Austin, is short but thought provoking. It says “show me your garden and shall tell you what you are.”
No doubt this is meant to explore the expression of one’s Id through our choices of flowering combinations, or plumb the depths of our relationship with the world through mulch. But I have to admit: when faced with a door into my psyche, my only thought was “thank goodness it didn’t ask me to show it the lawn.”
A close examination of my grass is more telling than reading tea leaves, but significance depends upon the interpreter. To some, those small encroachments of weeds and the push and pull of buffalo and bluegrass in the back yard means I’m open minded and accepting. Others see it as a hideous eyesore and look at me as if I had demon smut on my soul.
It isn’t that there’s a right or wrong in the matter, it’s just a difference in opinion on what makes a perfect yard. For us, we’re happy to keep our maintenance to a minimum and don’t mind a few weeds. The buffalo grass in the back is xeric, and our water bills don’t go up like a rocket around the Fourth of July.
But there’s little doubt in my mind why lawns are so important to people. Historically, they’ve been a sign of wealth and prosperity – the number of sheep you could graze on your lawn showed the neighbors how rich you were.
Nowadays homeowners take pride in their grass, secretly measuring themselves against surrounding yards. They patrol the yard until mysterious brown spots stop them in their tracks. Comb-overs are considered, but discarded since the grass is mowed only three inches high.
When lawns have problems, many are left scratching their head, wondering what is wrong and how to fix it. Fortunately we at Colorado State University Extension have a program designed to help the turf-challenged right in your own backyard: Lawncheck. It includes a site visit by our horticulture staff to discuss recommendations for fixing and caring for the grass.
In most cases, yard problems are due to how the lawn is cared for, and homeowners can cure problems themselves. Occasionally, help will be needed from a professional lawn care company, so contact the folks at Colorado Association of Lawn Care Professionals, lawncarecolorado.org/, for their list of local experts. The minimum cost is $75 for a one hour site visit. Mileage costs may apply, depending on the distance of the site from the Extension office. Lab fees for any samples collected will vary, based upon the tests to be run. Visit the CSU Lawncheck website for a listing of participating counties, or to schedule an appointment at CSULawncheck.org.
This post previously appeared in the Longmont Ledger.