Sea of Green

This article brought back some memories.

I’m currently looking for a house.  Of course, as they always have, relatives are doing everything they can to discourage me.  Apparently a single woman, in their minds, belongs in a condo warehouse — but only if she for some reason is not content to throw her money out the window on rent every month.  And never mind that I have a peculiar talent for attracting brutish neighbors in multifamily settings, and no desire to purchase a situation like that which I can’t get out of easily.  When you rent you can move, but when you buy, you’re stuck — particularly these days if you have a condo that no one really wants to take off your hands.

Anyway, one of my relatives’ favorite warnings is that if I buy a house, I’ll be stuck mowing the lawn.  Well I have an answer for that: what lawn?  I have no intention of having a lawn.  I’ve seen too much time and energy go to waste on lawns that fill up with weeds or die during drought.  And then there is the issue of water waste.

As an example, here’s the story about the kind of people who worship lawns:

In one relative’s neighborhood there is a watering ban on alternate days, depending on whether one has an odd or even address number.  It also limits the hours in a day one can water one’s lawn.  Well, a neighbor had an “in” with the town officials and during one drought watered his lawn nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  He should have been written numerous tickets but as I said, he had friends in the town hall.  I believe he finally did get ticketed after half the neighborhood complained, but he ignored the ticket (as in, he didn’t pay it).  Knowing him, he probably framed it and put it on his wall.

All this time he bragged and chortled about how good his lawn looked while everyone else’s was drying to something resembling hay.  And so the water ran and gushed down the street, even seeping into a neighbor’s basement.   His lawn was saturated…and parts of it, where the sprinkler system didn’t reach, were turning yellow anyway.  Long experience as a gardener has taught me that irrigation — even excessive irrigation — is never as good as a rain shower.  I could have told him that.  But of course, this guy was an idiot and you couldn’t tell him anything.

Finally he got caught in a financial bind between two homes and had to sell.  (Ironically for someone so out of touch with any notion of ecology or conservation, his other house was an ultra-expensive gentrified farmette which he bought simply because he and his wife didn’t want to deal with neighbors.  They did not and still don’t have any intention of being farmers.)

This was when the housing bubble was getting long past being bloated enough to pop. For nearly a decade McMansions had been springing up everywhere, only to stand unsold for years — but that wasn’t stopping speculators from buying perfectly viable older homes at inflated prices, knocking them down, and building monstrosities in their places in the hope of making at least double on the initial investment.  It failed again and again.  Times were getting bad, but people were refusing to recognize it.  Of course, the idiot was one of those people; it took him more than 2 years to get rid of that house.  Never mind that the house had an addition that had never been finished, or the fact that he was massively overcharging for it to begin with — he had to find some way to pay for that farmette, after all — he stubbornly refused to recognize his own bad timing.  Finally, out of sheer dumb luck, he unloaded it on some surly, insular eastern European immigrants who flooded the neighborhood with an armada of expensive cars in the months after they bought the house.  For a time it was impossible to park anywhere but in a relative’s driveway, and then they started trying to block those, too, until disgusted neighbors started calling the police.  Interestingly enough, the housing market crashed just under two years after they moved in and they are now down to one or two less-expensive vehicles.  No doubt they are foregoing car payments to try to meet a gigantic, totally under-water mortgage installment each month.  The American Dream, you know.

Anyway, during the long period it took him to get rid of his oh-so-expensive house with the only over-irrigated lawn in the neighborhood, he let the lawn grow out of control and got ticketed several times for not mowing.  He didn’t pay those tickets either, but at least the rest of  the neighborhood finally got the satisfaction of seeing that a “For Sale” sign disappearing behind overgrown grass cancels out any benefits of having buddies in the town hall.

I’ll never understand people like that, but that situation comes to mind whenever I think about lawns.  And so I have vowed never to have one.  A rock garden, maybe.  Or weeds, wildflowers, clover…anything but a lawn.