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March 1, 2011

It’s Spring.

It’s time to start working in the garden again.

It’s not like we’ve not been busy outdoors during the six weeks that we call winter here in Dallas — a week of snow and ice notwithstanding. But the lows are in the 40s and the highs are in the 70s and, while the front yard looks decent and the side yard is mostly cleared of debris, the back yard is a mess.

Well, not such a mess. Chris and his friends have been going at it with chainsaws for six months now, so the mess that was the jungle in our creek bed is now just jungly ground cover and the scrub is now neatly stacked, drying, ready for burning. The trees I planted last September all appear to have survived.

So far so good, but the main feature of our lawn, the lawn, is about to turn into a crisis.

What once was mud and dying St Augustine grass is now winter rye grass that I seeded last fall, lush in most places but patchy where the dog dug. It’s going to turn to all mud and weeds when the weather heats up in a few weeks. I can’t just ignore it.  I’ve got to do something.

The easy solution would be to put down grass, except for one thing.

The environmentally-minded people who built our  house did not install an irrigation system. And then their builder put in notoriously high-water-consumption grass. According to our neighbors, the prior owner of our house kept his lawn alive with frequent shallow watering, dragging around a sprinkler that attached to his hose.

I’m not going to do that.

I’ve been looking into having a sprinkler system installed, but I’d rather have new floors installed first, and furthermore, I know, in theory, that with a moderate amount of research and some smart planting choices and occasional deep watering, I ought to be able to have a beautiful garden with a minimum of water and a minimum of maintenance effort.

At least that is what “they” tell me, “they” being the experts who write books and magazine articles and web sites on the subject of low water use landscaping.

“They” also suggest not having a lawn at all, which isn’t an option.

I could buy sod, if I had a budget for it, but then I’m back to the same problem of no sprinkler system, and the cost of a low-water-use type sod makes the gamble that it will probably die without a sprinkler system too much for me to swallow.

I’m steeling myself up for planting grass seed, either buffalo grass or zoysia, or both and letting them duel it out. I know buffalo grass is native, but zoysia is prettier.

It might not grow.

It might get trampled on — no, not might. It will get trampled on, and for a while, if I am lucky, I will have a lawn featuring footprint-shaped bare patches in kids’ sizes one and two. And I’m going to have to water the grass by hand every day for a week or six while the lawn takes, which brings me back to the whole thing about our perfect house not having a sprinkler system.

I feel like the target of an advertisement in a 1950s commercial for a sprinkler system. I mean, there’s a reason people started having them installed in the first place.

In an ideal world, I’ll create a stunning low-water-use garden that includes broad swaths of springy green turf. And eventually I will have a sprinkler system installed, which I then won’t use.


Except when it’s 110 degrees outside at 8:00 am and the garden really, really needs it in which case I will walk over to my sprinkler system and turn it on. Probably via remote control. Or even via my cell phone.

There’s something unbelievably smug and self-righteous about that whole scenario. Alas, for now, it’s not something that is going to happen, because a new sprinkler system is low down in the list of priorities for our new house.

It’ll give me something to think about, though, as I stand out in the yard for an hour every morning and evening with the hose. Most people build castles in the air. Not me. My Dallas McMansion already looks a little (too) castle-like. I build rainclouds in the air.

From → Garden

One Comment
  1. Aunt Lee permalink

    Just found this.

    What about laying down drip hosing? Trail along a hoe for a furrow, plopping down the drip hosing. Cover with the soil you turned up. Then seed or sod or plant, and set the time/s you want it to drip.

    We did this with the front garden strip in from of my building, and it works really well.

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