Outsourcing Summer

June 23, 2010 at 6:25 pm 7 comments

Have you ever felt like you were failing being a Grown Up?

This might seem an odd intro into this week’s Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop topic of what summer means to your family, but it’s a nagging question in the back of my mind when certain aspects of summer come up.

Growing up, I remember the trips to the nursery every summer to pick out the hanging baskets of ferns for the back patio, the geraniums for the front porch, and all the varieties of flowers my mother would plant in the beds in the side yard.

Summer flowers

My dad would mow the grass, carefully edge the yard and rig up tiny metal gates around the sprinkler system so my sister and I would stop cutting it too close in the driveway and running over the little sprayers.

The smell of lawn and roses and dirt and heat. The garden gloves, the weeding tools, the little shovels. That was summer. And it was all something the grown ups just seemed to know how to do.

Michael and I? Not so much.

We bought a house with a postage-stamp-sized backyard and a slightly-larger-postage-stamp-sized front yard. Frankly, this was one of the big selling points to us. We just didn’t strike ourselves as the type of couple who would spend weekends taking care of the lawn or, God forbid, planting flower beds.

And, boy, were we right.

But it turns out that no matter what size the lawn is, there’s still lawn. You can’t cut it with a pair of kitchen scissors, and apparently, it doesn’t grow if you don’t water it. (Although maybe the one solves the other?)

It also turns out that, even in a very non-suburban neighborhood right in the heart of the city, manicured lawns and beautifully landscaped yards are everywhere.

Just not at our place.

Backyard landscaping

As we’ve watched our friends and neighbors cultivate these beautiful, lush landscapes, and looked out at our tiny backyard, with its few wisps of grass that managed to survive the double whammy of total neglect and serving as Gibson the dog’s bathroom, it has led us to a strange summer ritual: We make grand landscaping plans.

We’ll re-sod the backyard, and plant rose bushes in the front, we tell ourselves. How about a couple of trailing vines around the mailbox like we saw in that magazine once. We can hang baskets on the front porch and window boxes off the side of the deck. Maybe a fruit tree or two!

So every weekend, we make trips to the farmers market and the nurseries and the home improvement centers. Helpful employees tell us things about fertilizing and soil and perennials and annuals and shade and full sunlight and on and on as our eyes glaze over…Hey, maybe one of our neighbors – or even better, our parents – would want to do this for us?

We finally broke down and did something very grown up: We hired a landscaper. The backyard “lawn” (really, it’s more like a fantastic collection of exotic weeds) is back to its old suffering state, but the rest isn’t so bad.

There are still no colorful flowers adorning the porch or rose bushes and trailing vines around the mailbox, but it’s probably best that we take baby steps for now.


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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. db  |  June 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Aww.. I know what you mean.. I see our neighbours beautiful yards and our house looks so boring – My hanging baskets are dying already and the grass we tried to re-seed is still the same because of lack of watering. At least our postage stamp front yard is devoid of grass (rocks only, put in place by the previous owner) and the slightly bigger back yard is hidden from view!

  • 2. marlainkontheside  |  June 24, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    @db Rocks! Good idea! We’re getting very tempted to turn the small backyard into a large patio…

  • 3. Cheryl  |  June 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Same here. We currently have NO grass in our backyard. And though it’s not huge, it’s certainly big enough to put in a big pool. We are getting it sodded (you know, if my husband ever makes the call), but with two big dogs and three kids, it won’t be nice for long.

    The front yard? Nothing neatly manicured. We have an association so the grass it cut and all that, but our flower beds? I believe there are some flowering weeds in there!

    • 4. marlainkontheside  |  June 24, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      We’ve started convincing ourselves that the weeds look nice. And gosh, they sure are easy to grow!

  • 5. Mama Kat  |  June 24, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I wish I liked to plant flowers and make the yard pretty. Lord knows it could use it! Totally feel you on this one.

  • 6. amber  |  June 24, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    You know, unless they’re thorny, weeds do the exact same thing as grass…

    In fact, letting clover grow is good for the planet (the disappearing honey bees, you know).

    Just sayin’. 🙂


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