The classical art of lawn care |

The classical art of lawn care

Jane Stebbins

It’s spring time, and that can mean only one thing: It’s time to put on our stompin’ shoes.

Every year my husband and I look out over the vast expanse of dead, withered brown grass we call lawn and admire the handiwork left by the county plows. We spend two days shoveling gravel and rocks off the grass, and another day wondering if the energy needed to bring the grass back to life will be worth it.

Every year, we decide it will be worth it, if not to compete with the neighbors’ lawn across the street, then to usurp the water that would otherwise be sucked to Denver for someone else’s lawn.

As long-time homeowners, we know the key to a successful lawn and garden: money to pay someone else to do all the work. And since we don’t have any of that, we have to fall back on what lawn-owners the world over have relied on for centuries: savvy inventions and free child labor.

We are no strangers to either. My husband has jury-rigged things that have done everything from entertain the kids to entertain the neighbors. He’s discovered that a properly placed dime can keep a truck running, that chicken wire and 4,000 pounds of concrete will hold an elevated garden in place and that a wire hangar can keep the rain cap affixed to the fireplace flue. Shutting the door and turning up the television makes the annoying drip-drip-drip of the kitchen sink disappear; taking a bedroom door off its hinges prevents a pre-teen from slamming it. There is nothing duct tape can’t do.

A long time ago, we heard about aeration. It involves heavy machinery that punches holes in your lawn. Sounded intriguing. And, apparently, it’s good for your lawn: It allows air and water to get to the grass roots, and the little plugs look like critter doots, so people tend to stay off the lawn.

Several years ago, when our financial situation was even worse than it is today, we couldn’t afford to rent an aerator, much less purchase one. So good-ol’ Yankee ingenuity came into play. We found two 2-by-4s, pounded 3-inch nails into them and strapped them onto our feet with a a strip of a flat bike tire. We proudly strode back and forth across the lawn, punching little holes in the grass and trying to ignore our neighbors who were lazing in the sun as their landscaper sculpted berms dotted with expensive flowers. We know they were jealous of our thrifty ways.

Our attempt backfired, however, when the two-by-fours broke along the grain of the wood because we’d pounded so many nails into them. And I almost ended up in the hospital with a broken ankle because one of the nails hit a rock and threw me off kilter.

This year, we’re building the better mousetrap.

We’re going to replace the 2-by-4s with tire tread. My husband wants steel belts; I want whitewalls. He thinks one of his saws – be it hack, jig, table, band – must be able to cut through the thick rubber. We’ll pound long nails into the soles, rig them up with bicycle tire innertubes and invite all our daughter’s friends over.

Having lived with us for all of her 11 years, she instantly was – and rightfully so – suspicious when we proposed our idea.

“We need a favor!” (Smile) “Please?”

“And that would be …?” she asked, crossing her arms in a classic defensive posture.

“We need you and your friends to come over and poke holes in the lawn,” I said. “It’s called classical aeration, set to any music you like.”

“Uh-huh. Why?”

“To help the lawn grow.”

“You’re scaring me, Mama.”

“That’s my job,” I said. “You’ll have fun.”

“Don’t be afraid,” my husband said. “Just run like the wind.”

We’ve got it all figured out. We’ll outfit the kids with aeratin’ stompers, crank up Smash Mouth on the boom box and encourage them to dance in broad daylight.

We should have the lawn aerated in no time. Then it will be time to fertilize it. You should see the contraption we’re designing to spread that – all from the comfort of our front deck.

The neighbors may laugh, but we believe people will beat a path to our door. Well, all except our daughter. If you see her, could you have her call home? We need to ask her a favor.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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