In the Appalachian South where I live, there is no such thing as a perfect lawn. Our clayey, rocky ground, that we laughingly refer to as soil, is the perfect lawn killer. The only grass that can survive is a grass that goes dormant in heat and drought, when the clay turns to cement. Surviving our frequent cloud bursts is another story. Periods of heavy rain, day after day, can turn our yard into a veritable sea of muck.
Nothing, however, can completely kill the roots of these grasses, nor annihilate the weeds which are the substance of a southern gardener's nightmare. So, barring taking a blow-torch to my lawn, I had to work with its temperament and trick the weeds.
After exhausting myself one day, spouting curses at my back breaking lawn, I happened to notice a neighbor doing some kind of strange ritual. He walked around his front yard, carrying a sack tucked under one arm. He kept reaching into his bag with his free hand, only to toss some powder high into the air. What in the world was he doing? I couldn't resist the urge to find out, so I walked over and asked.
"It's really simple," he said. "What grows faster than a weed? Nothing, right?" I had to agree. "So," he continued, "I just help them along."
"How?" I had to know.
"I fertilize them," he informed me. "I fertilize them a lot! Then, I water them like crazy during a drought and leave things alone when it rains." He gave me a conspiratorial grin.
"Oh, come on," I said. "That can't work."
"Well, it works a heck of a lot better than that war dance you do!" I laughed, as he explained. "Weeds grow fast, so I make them grow faster. They grow so fast that they outgrow their roots. Then they die. Your lawn becomes lush and beautiful, and no weeds, until next year. Once a week you mow, and keep that mower at least three inches high. You don't want to disturb any dormant weed seed in the soil."
"So, what kind of fertilizer do I use?" I asked.
"Any kind that is made for the lawn," he said.
Well, I couldn't resist his challenge, and I decided to try it for myself. As an asthmatic, I knew that I couldn't tolerate the powdered lawn fertilizer; so I thought, what the heck, I'll go with Miracle Grow! I read the labels carefully, making certain that I had the right type for lawns, and I began that very day. I followed the instructions for boosting the grass's immune system, and I treated my lawn every week. Not only did it work for my lawn, but my young trees and shrubs thanked me, by growing faster and healthier.
Within six weeks I was looking at the prettiest lawn you ever did see! By mid-summer, those brown spots from Japanese beetle grubs were few and far between. I was happy to spend more time planting flowers, and less time doing my war dance. I suppose that there will always be those who exhaust themselves for a picture perfect lawn. However, as perhaps the world's laziest gardener, I’d rather just stop and smell the flowers.