I hate grass. Especially at this time of the year. We went to Seattle, came home to find our previously dormant front lawn full of big, blossoming broadleaf weeds. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and these purple flowering plants are probably absolutely gorgeous to other weeds – but unfortunately, not in the eyes of our Homeowners’ Association inspectors. So we also came home to a letter from the HOA, advising us that we had ten days to have said yard treated for weeds.
First, a little history: from the time we moved here in 2004, we had a mediocre front yard. A few hedges, some crepe myrtles for color, one big tree in the center. The grass was mediocre grass, patchy in spots, a few dandelions that would spring up between mowings.
Then in 2006 we decided to spruce things up. We submitted a design plan and got it approved by the HOA. We hired a landscaping company and paid $13,000 to get some curb appeal. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. Oh, they planted a bunch of flowers and bushes, including two $400 spiral junipers. They put in new stone surrounds for the flower bed (I originally wanted brick, but they told me that the Austin stone would look great and cost less … now I know why it costs less – it’s falling apart already). They took out all our old grass and put down new sod.
And it did look great – for a couple of months.
Our new front yard started out looking great
However, within a few weeks, we discovered that drainage hadn’t been taken into consideration and when it rained, water backed up in the driveway because of the stone edging. The mulch blew out of the flowerbeds all over the driveway whenever it was windy. Weeds grew wild in the flowerbeds under the boxwoods (keep in mind that I had asked for a “low maintenance” design).
In the back yard, the new built-up lawn area that we’d been assured would “settle” several inches never did and still hasn’t, over two years later. The junipers are brown, regardless of how much or little we water them. The boxwoods are still scrawny, although they’re finally starting to grow a little. The stone is coming apart, big pieces flaking off of it whenever it rains. And the lawn itself started sprouting weeds all over the place – I later read that landscapers often buy cheap sod that has weeds in it. Of course, the better for them to then get to charge you for weed treatments.
We had this company do the weed treatments for two years. We never got rid of the weeds, despite shelling out $40 every couple of months. That’s the reason we cancelled their service last winter.
Now the weeds are attacking with a vengeance.
I called another lawn service, Scott’s. We’ll see how that works out. I’ve run the numbers and between the weed treatments, the mowing/edging service, and the summer increase in water bills, we’re paying over $2000 per year to maintain the grass. And did I mention that I hate grass?
Cities and eco-consciousness groups push us to “go green” and conserve water, even restrict which days we can water and punish us with higher rates if we use too much. Then HOAs fine us if we let the lawn die, and make rules that prevent us from xeriscaping with natural plants – we all have to have the same cookie cutter expanse of boring grass. What’s wrong with this picture?
I’d pave the whole yard if they’d let me. I love hardscape. I love the stone courtyard concept. I hate grass. And I hate spending my precious time and money on lawn enforcement. There’s got to be a better way.