Thursday, May 29, 2008


I was working in my garden and rather than pondering what I was supposed to be pondering (how to resurrect my novel), I came up with the following thoughts about yardwork:

1. It’s not that I hate it that much. I actually enjoy it, once I get started, especially if it’s dusk or the sprinklers have been on and the weeds slide easily out of the ground. It’s the things AROUND it that I hate. For example:

a. The clean-up. The dirty clothes. The clay stuck to the bottom of my shoes, which are probably my good shoes since I didn’t bother to change to gardening shoes. The dirt under my fingernails.

b. That I have no idea what I’m doing and am always just guessing.

c. The sneaky feeling that there has GOT to be an easier way to do whatever I’m doing, some secret that everyone else knows (how to keep weeds down, for example) and that I’ll never find out.

d. The feeling torn because the kids are in the house undoing whatever housework I accomplished yesterday and I’m outside enjoying the quiet. OR having to play slave-driver and listen to the whining if I make them work out there with me. (And, of course, most of them pull only the tops of the weeds and leave the roots so it’s fruitless anyway.) This is why it’s empty-nesters who are most likely to say they like gardening.

e. Biggest thing I hate about gardening: THE MONEY IT REQUIRES!!!!!! I hate, hate, hate to spend money on my yard. Somehow I got the wrong impression at one time in my life that a vegetable garden is a way of being thrifty. Oh, no, no, no. That would imply that my kids actually eat what I grow, and that I can’t get everything tons cheaper by shopping case-lot sales. If there’s something that truly is cheaper and better from my garden (tomatoes and squash is about it), I’ll grow it happily. But the rest—no way. And it’s even worse when we get into the yard itself. I can’t stand how expensive everything is (weed spray, mulch, plants, grass fertilizer, etc.). I got brave and asked the nice German couple in our ward whose yard always looks fantastic how much they spend per year on their yard and garden. His answer: “Oh, about $600.” !!!!!!! That, my friends, is why my yard looks lousy.

2. The pioneers had the right idea with their corn-husking bees and barn-raising parties. I propose a new cultural tradition: yardwork parties. What if a few families gathered on a Saturday morning in one person’s yard (oh, say, MINE) and worked for two hours on it. The time would fly by because we would all be together, having a grand old gossip. Then the host would give them all root-beer floats, and the group would re-convene at the next family’s house the next weekend. Why not? As I sat there pulling weeds today, I thought about how much I love to go to CafĂ© Rio with my friends and shoot the breeze for two hours. We could still get our chat in if we were pulling weeds instead of stuffing our faces, right? (Well, disregarding the children-fighting-throwing-rocks-whining-that-they’re-hungry-and-when-will-we-be-done factor.) I think it could work. In fact, being the selfless person that I am, I’d even volunteer to host the first one!


Ang said...

I feel ya, sister. I'm lucky, though, because Forrest likes yard work, so I'm pretty much off the hook.

I do have one "in the know" suggestion, though. There's this stuff called "Weed Impede" that you can buy at Glover's. It is a little expensive, but if you spray it on all your beds at the beginning of spring, it won't harm your plants that are already in the ground, but it WILL prevent any seeds (read: weed seeds) from germinating. We have a ton of beds, and after spraying them with Weed Impede we haven't had to do much weeding at all this year. Of course, it wouldn't work in a vegetable garden that you're planting from seed . . . but anywhere else, it's been very effective for us. So there's a hint.

So for all that you've given me in our friendship, which vastly outweighs what I've given you, I can at least say that I've given you the downlow on two things: Weed Impede and eyebrow plucking.

Emily M said...

Darlene, you always take the words out of my mouth. My yard, it looks awful. And i hate spending money on it. Every year it gets a smidge better. But only a smidge.

Melinda said...

I actually enjoy yardwork. I love to pull weeds. Probably because it satisifies a need I have for violence. I can kill things and get away with it. I even love the sound weeds make as I viciously tear them from there little homes in the ground. It's morbid. I know. Like jo in Little Women "I rather crave violence." :-)

I think your idea of a weeding party is fabulous. I'd do it in a heartbeat. -if you dare invite me. (insert evil laugh)

Honestly, bugs and weeds are all I kill. Nothing else. Oh, except for my Mother's day flowers, but that is never on purpose.

Jennifer B. said...

Hmmm. . .and you'll serve root beer floats?

Truly, your idea is brilliant. Wish I lived closer.

Jenny said...

Oh, I SO KNOW what you mean! For my Christmas gift from my husband, I asked him to terrace our sloping backyard so I could plant some beautiful vegetables, perennials, annuals, etc... All I have now is a beautiful terraced weed patch! This is California, for Pete's sake! I'm supposed to have a BHG backyard. Oh well... if I told him it costs $600/year to have a beautiful yard he would have a heart attack anyway!

Zina said...

I think all the things you mentioned must be the subconscious reasons behind the spareness of my yard. Well, that and that when I only have limited time (as has been the case for about the last 10 years,) I'd rather sew.

I don't think the yard party thing would fly in my neighborhood . . . I think there are two types of people in my neighborhood, those who love yard work and are masters at it, and those who pay someone to do it. Oh wait, I forgot about the third kind: the ones who are bringing down the neighborhood. (That would be us.)

I think I have finally at least realized that I should only have perennials; now I just need to get some into the ground.

(I did like gardening in California, though. Here, I just can't seem to adapt to the short growing season.)

Darlene said...

Name the day, Melinda. The weeds in my yard actually trembled when they heard--er, read?--your evil cackle.

Zina, that's totally my neighborhood, too.

Queen K said...

I. Hate. Yardwork.

But I think that once I (1) no longer have a baby or toddler, and (2) have money to spend on landscaping, I'll be ready to get into it. It is NO FUN to try to take care of an ugly yard with no funds and a small person constantly wanting to be held.