Opinion: Lawncare plight: A serious quandary


I’m stuck at a crossroads, where my lawn is concerned.

Let me explain. I have a lawn only by the loosest definition of the term. The word lawn, to my mind, should really be restricted to places that are lush, full and deep green. You know, like in all those movies about English people who stroll around big castles in the country. Or, to use a comparison a little closer to home, you average major league outfield.

In my yard you will find not a lush carpet of full, deep green, but a sparse, patchy collection of various grasses and plants, none of them desirable, punctuated by patches of dirt so toxic that nothing can grow there.

So here’s my crisis: I can’t decide whether I should go out and break my back setting the thing right (assuming I can) or hire a lawn service to come in tear it all up and start over again – the scorched earth approach, as it were.

I know what you’re thinking: “Lawn service, you dope. Let someone else strain his sacroiliac while you reap the benefits.” And I think that way, too, until my innate McKenzie Family Guilt Complex sets in.

The McKenzies are my mother’s family, and a hard-working, self-reliant bunch they are. It’s a matter of pride among McKenzies that they know how to fix everything and that they are not afraid of going out to work up a sweat in the noonday sun. They look forward to weekends not because they are a break from work, but because they give us a chance to labor even harder, on projects at home.

That’s the way my mother always explained it, anyway.

But I am only half McKenzie, and for most of the last week my other side has been doing the talking. My other side agrees with everything you said, especially the part about me being a dope. And it fairly shouts “Hire the service.”

I went through this same sort of debate for the few months that I had a cleaning lady come in. Part of me loved the fact that someone would come in and make the house all fresh and sparkling clean. The McKenzie part of me felt incredibly guilty for the same reason.

Eventually, I McKenzied myself right out of that deal, telling myself it was shameful to hire a cleaning woman when I know perfectly well how to clean and dust and polish. Which I proved by cleaning like mad before she came over, because you don’t want your cleaning lady to think you’re a pathetic loser.

Of course, I can rationalize bringing in a lawn service by reminding myself that the lawn has been through so much – two big dogs with healthy appetites and all that goes with them, plus years of my own turf-managing incompetence – that I need a professional to come in and put things in order. A professional can give it a good, fresh start. Then I can take over and keep things in proper condition.

OK, I’m back. I just took a little break to ponder the issue. OK, I took a nap. And afterward I decided to go with the lawn professionals. Which means I need to get out there and get the grass cut and the flower beds weeded before they get here. See above under Cleaning Woman/Pathetic Loser.

— Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Write him at [email protected]. For information on speaking fees and availability, visit www.spotlightwww.com.