Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Make-Believe Lawn

Our house was new when I moved in a bit more than twelve years ago. My backdoor neighbor caught me in the yard soon after. Among other things, he said the builder had illegally buried a forest full of trees in a giant hole in my yard.

A month or two later the builder came over with a bobcat tractor and re-contoured the yard. The goal was to change the grade so water would drain into a dry stream bed at the bottom of the lot rather than into the street. He evened out all the humps, filled all the dips and otherwise leveled things out.

I threw grass seed across the top but didn't water it enough and for a couple of years, just pretended I had a lawn. Dust from the Georgia clay stuck to my sweat-covered body like a bad spray tan when I mowed and ran off in orange rivers when I showered. I fertilized regularly, sprayed for weeds and mole crickets and otherwise treated my dust bowl like a lawn.

Starting out I didn't know you had to spray for mole crickets. These nasty little bugs devoured my entire lawn by eating the roots. I didn't even know I had a problem until the grass vanished seemingly overnight.

I'm not a fan of pesticides. Having grown up with the pansy pests of Kentucky, before coming south I looked down my nose at anyone who resorted to spraying for bugs. Not any more. One encounter with a colony of pissed off fire ants turned the tide. The mole crickets perished.

The yard started dropping--so gradually I hardly noticed. The first sign of trouble was pooling during a heavy rain. The weight of the standing water caused the ground to fall still more. Then the pace quickened. Here's the before pic:

The nicely leveled yard dropped--by several feet in some spots--making it almost impossible to mow. I quit fertilizing and let the weeds take over. Recalling my neighbor's words about the illegal tree cemetery, I called the builder about the sinkhole last fall. He said he'd fix the problem.

Yesterday he and two buds finally decided the problem was three adjacent sinkholes. The three men spent most the day walking around, gesturing broadly and reaching agreement on a master plan. It was all way over my head. The actual work didn't take long at all. This is essentially the same view as above, today.

Today we raked, limed, fertilized and seeded the newly-graded yard. I've got the sprinkler set up so I can keep it watered. Hopefully the lawn will be established enough by June to withstand our summers. If not, I bet you'll hear about it from...

The Crotchety Old Man

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