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Free lawn advice from your Forum friends

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?

Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby snoqueen » Wed May 15, 2013 10:27 am

A nice, clean and tidy yard says something about me and my family (much like the clothes and hairstyles we wear).


Are you new in town?
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby jjoyce » Wed May 15, 2013 11:15 am

nutria wrote:There are few things in this world I find as vain, as unnecessary, and as downright banal as lawn care, especially when it comes to making the perfect square of green carpet so many people seem to obsess over. Sno hit on it earlier -- just go ahead and install astroturf, already.


I'm sure you're spending the time you don't waste on something as banal as yard care producing great art, fiction or music, right?
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby Endo Rockstar » Wed May 15, 2013 11:30 am

Sigh....yeah. I have to give a shit right now.

We moved in last October and knew come spring and summer that we'd have to increase the slope of the landscaping around the house. During that process, the wife decided she wanted a fresh start which meant pulling up all the overgrown scrub-brush and poorly maintained bushes around the yard and house --- I became well acquainted with the dudes who are at the east side brush drop off sites on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

I'm actually okay with idea of having just grass, edging, and mulch to deal with right now -- getting to that point is a struggle though. The yard was a little too wild for a last few years before we purchased it. It will come around though.

The house across the street was purchased by a younger couple over the winter as well. He's trying to set the bar way too high -- he re-sodded his back yard -- that I won't do, but in his defense it looked like someone had been dumping a combination of dirt, gravel, and sticks in his back yard for the last 15 years and he was going to have a bitch of time getting anything to grow without new top soil and some sod.

I will say our Isthmus neighbors think we're idiots for going with "suburbia" style yards. Most of them have the combination flower garden/prairie restoration style front yards that I never see them working in. Me and the neighbor, however, are having fun with it. We've taken to throwing beers across the street to each other.

-Dan Motor
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby Mean Scenester » Wed May 15, 2013 11:46 am

jjoyce wrote:
nutria wrote:There are few things in this world I find as vain, as unnecessary, and as downright banal as lawn care, especially when it comes to making the perfect square of green carpet so many people seem to obsess over. Sno hit on it earlier -- just go ahead and install astroturf, already.

I'm sure you're spending the time you don't waste on something as banal as yard care producing great art, fiction or music, right?

Right. This from the guy who scoffed at my assertion that time spent obsessing over my lawn is time I'm not spending with my kids.

Question: Who gives a fuck what nutria decides to do if he's choosing to mow every other week (or every third, or whatever) instead of every week or whatever you lawn jockeys do?

I get it, a manicured lawn is a priority for you. Not for me, or, apparently, our friend nutria here. Why does that get your dander up so high? Maybe we're noodling on a guitar. Maybe we're finger painting with our kids. Maybe we're producing only mediocre art and literature. Whatever it is, is going to be a hell of a lot less ephemeral than that monoculture Mother Nature is trying to destroy despite all the elbow grease and chemicals and precious water you may care to throw at it.
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby nutria » Wed May 15, 2013 11:57 am

jjoyce wrote:I'm sure you're spending the time you don't waste on something as banal as yard care producing great art, fiction or music, right?


Sheesh. Feel free to drop the butthurt at any time.

I can't believe I have to type this out, but not everyone has the same hobbies and priorities as you. Here's another bomb: the sun comes out during the day, and the moon at night.

Besides, my point wasn't that someone needs to be doing something great to make their time more worthwhile than making sure each blade of grass is exactly the same height. My point is that you can do something mundane to make your time more worthwhile. But if it would sooth your ego to have me tell you that I spend my time "producing great art, fiction or music," then OK, I'll tell you that.
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Wed May 15, 2013 12:05 pm

Current home doesn't have enough grass to really justify a mower, it's almost my dream yard (I still need to kill the grass that's coming through the wood chips that take up half the unpaved portion of the back yard). Who ever did the landscaping was not a fan of grass, though there is plenty of opportunity for some gardening if I ever get off my butt and do it.

Now I just need to figure out how to get a perfectly even patch of grass using a weed wacker.
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby snoqueen » Wed May 15, 2013 6:07 pm

From observation, I can tell you the best way not to have to deal with grass (or much of anything else) in the yard is plant Emerald Queen maples. Those are the maples the city put in years ago that have such dense shade nothing grows underneath. Three or four Emerald Queens and you can forget mowing indefinitely.
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby rabble » Wed May 15, 2013 6:48 pm

Emerald Queen is a type of Norway maple. It isn't just the shade that does that. The tree gives off an herbicide through its roots. If you're trying to grow blueberries within forty feet of a Norway, that's the reason they ain't doing so good. (Assuming you've already done the soil ph adjustments and all the et ceteras.)

You can tell a Norway by breaking off a leaf and watching the stem to see if it leaks a milky syrup like a milkweed does only not as much. Other types of maples, like Sugar, don't do that.

You can still tap a Norway for syrup. They're just not as prolific as a sugar maple and late in the season, the sap will have a slightly different taste. Not bad, just different.
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby fennel » Wed May 15, 2013 7:10 pm

I have a beautiful black walnut on the corner of my lot, so the options for plantings within the root zone are a bit limited. Grass, clearly, has no problem. We'll see how the serviceberry does. Hosta and day lilies seem to thrive. Arborvitae seems reluctant, though it's said to be resistant. Humans do well, especially when situated in hammocks, but are noticeably discomfited when beaned by falling walnuts.
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby snoqueen » Wed May 15, 2013 8:13 pm

Ferns work under a walnut tree.

Good luck to the little serviceberry -- we'll see. Walnut trees are sort of a curse in the city. A big walnut tree will kill roses within more than a 50' radius, I know that much from experience.
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby Meade » Wed May 15, 2013 10:04 pm

If it's straight, a big black walnut is worth a lot of money. Consider cutting down the allelopathic sucker, sell it to a lumber mill, and take your profits, have the stump ground out, and plant a pretty little serviceberry. Or, better yet, a redbud, with a little patch of perfect green lawn under it, just large enough to lie down on and star and cloud gaze. See? - money does grow on trees. (But you do have to stop hugging them long enough to cut them down and plant new ones.)
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby Ninja » Wed May 15, 2013 10:48 pm

I don't understand the edgy teenager hostility towards taking care of one's lawn. You don't want to do it? Fine. But people are going to look at you weird.
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby snoqueen » Thu May 16, 2013 8:08 am

Since I moved to my present east side house six or seven years ago, I've made a whole bunch of converts. I am opposed to the used of lawn chemicals because they get into the groundwater and fertilize lake weeds. When I moved here chemical usage was about 50-50 yes-no. Now a dandelion count shows only two, maybe three, chemical folks left on the block (which is way down from 50-50). One of those uses something organic and I don't know what if anything it does to the lake so I'm putting her in a separate part of the count. A few of the converts decided to switch after some neighborhood dogs died, so it wasn't all my proselytizing, but still. (Having well-liked dogs die of weird cancers can't be definitively pinned on anything in particular but it makes people more cautious about what they expose dogs to.)

I would be curious about the trends in other Madison neighborhoods.
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu May 16, 2013 8:39 am

Meade wrote:If it's straight, a big black walnut is worth a lot of money.

Sawmill operators are very wary of yard trees because of the chance of nails imbedded in the truck, which can ruin an expensive saw blade and pose a risk to the sawyer. I know, as I asked when I wanted my black walnut removed.
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Re: Do you really give a shit about your lawn?

Postby rabble » Thu May 16, 2013 8:42 am

Ninja wrote:I don't understand the edgy teenager hostility towards taking care of one's lawn. You don't want to do it? Fine. But people are going to look at you weird.

Not in our neighborhood. It's the manicured lawns that get the weird looks.
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