Yes, that was me you saw the other day, standing in my backyard waving the white flag of surrender. Or, to use the more businesslike description, asking a landscaper to come up with some ideas for getting the place whipped into shape.
Either way, it works out like this:
I have failed as a backyard owner.
Now, I am not a complete Yard Failure. My front yard looks fine. Not golf-course fine but certainly passable by the standards of the neighborhood, which is to say it is mostly grass, cut to a reasonable length, nicely decorated with seasonal flowers, and relatively free of dog doo.
My side yard (I only have one) is likewise okay. It’s no showpiece, but who pays attention to side yards?
But the backyard … well, I was going to say it got away from me, but that doesn’t really describe the state of things out there. It’ a jungle, and I do mean jungle. When you have this kind of overgrowth, you half-expect a guy in a loincloth to come swinging through on a vine, yodeling as he goes.
You know what happened, don’t you? Well, yes, I got lazy where yard work is concerned. But more than that, I got a new fence and it threw the condition of the yard into startling relief. I mean, here are all these nice, near cedar planks standing like sentinels over a motley collection of weeds, overgrown tomato plants and bare patches.
And so, yes, I have surrendered. Which is tough to admit, because I am a guy and all guys like to think they are born with the home and lawn maintenance gene (along with the cookout gene and the find-the-way-without-consulting-a-map-or-asking-directions gene).
“I give up,” I said to the landscaper guy.
“Oh, I’ve seen lots worse,” he said reassuringly. Of course he was lying through his teeth but it was nice to hear. “And I see a lot of potential here. Do you like apple trees? You could do something with apple trees.”
“Just make it less embarrassing,” I said.
I deliberately set the standard low because there is a chain reaction going on and I mean to stop it ASAP. You know what I mean: The new fence makes the yard look bad, so you get the yard fixed up. The fixed-up yard makes the back porch look shabby so you get that rebuilt. The rebuilt back porch points out a desperate need for new paint on that side of the house, which points out an equally desperate need on the other three sides as well.
New paint on the outside of the house makes the inside look dull, so you decide to repaint all the rooms. The newly repainted rooms demonstrate just how ratty the carpet has gotten. New carpet makes you realize the curtains need replaced. New curtains draw your attention to the windows, which are in desperate need of overhaul. The list just keeps growing until you and your retirement savings are exhausted.
And all because you got behind in your yard work.
But I am willing to risk the danger — even if it means losing Man Points for not doing it myself — by asking for professional help. It’s time for action. With luck and someone else’s hard work, it’ll get whipped into shape and look halfway decent.
Just in time for the snowfall.
Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Write him at email@example.com. For information on speaking fees and availability, visit www.spotlightwww.com.