How to Love the Backyard You’ve Got

It’s a thin line between love and hate when it comes to my backyard. I love my square of God’s green acre in the ideal. But it’s hardly ever been ideal. There’s an uneven patio, a cobbled path and a lawn that is green only in splotches. Plus, sometimes, it’s hard just to enjoy sitting in a location that’s primed for weed viewing. Thank goodness God or Teddy Roosevelt invented parks so we could get away from lawn care once in a while.

Public gardens, like Cranbrook in Michigan, help us forget our weeds for a while.

The Grass is Greener

For our lawn, it was once pretty close to the ideal, back when we had TruGreen. Then we had lush grass, solid from corner to corner. My husband was proud of it, despite the fact that he had to mow it every other hour.

When the economy tanked, TruGreen was the first service we cut. With it went the verdant pastures (almost as soon as I set down the phone). The bald earth over our backyard-home-plate and other bases returned with a vengeance. It seems our lawn loves its “Prozac.” Tell me about it. Emergency bags of fertilizer are being infused as of this writing.

Even though the mowing slowed, sans chemicals, the need to weed whack is unabated. In our modern division of labor, the man mows and I’m responsible for weed whacking — which means I make my son do it. As soon as the safety goggles fit him (age eight) I made him don high-rise socks and sneakers and plugged him in. It’s not perfect but it gets done. Come to think of it, this could be why lawn viewing enjoyment is so elusive.

Patio Perfection

Last year around this time, I got my husband to agree to the expense of new patio furniture. It was to be my big-fat birthday present. We went as a family to the outdoor furniture store and surveyed every stick of wood, iron and aluminum composite. There were gorgeous fireplaces, patio sets, fountains and grills. I tentatively put a deposit down to hold a dining set. But I was unsure. We’d consider it over the weekend and call to confirm Monday.

That evening I got home and surveyed the back 40. A high-end dining set wasn’t the answer to my backyard woes. The answer was much more complex and involved a boatload of money plus a landscape designer. It was way out of the budget picture that year (and this).

That Monday, I drove over to the furniture mart to get my refund. The very nice salesman asked my reason for the return.

“You really want to know?” I asked.

He said he did. It was a slow morning at the outdoor furniture store.

“Well first of all, my patio is not ready. I need a screened in porch, new patio pavers, seating-height walls around the edge, a pergola because I killed the tree (on accident) that used to shade the area and more landscaping to block the view from the neighbors. Plus, if you really want to know, I want an iPhone which doesn’t come with all the baggage of my current patio relationship.”

He couldn’t give me my refund fast enough. I reminded him he was the one who asked.

Mud and Marriage

People can go to pimped-out extremes over their corner of territory. Much of the craziness is fueled by the crack-like HGTV. And who doesn’t love their weekly Extreme Home Makeover cry with Ty? I confess I’m addicted to glossy gardening books and magazines. But the perfect back yard costs money. And that’s one of the greatest stressors on any relationship.

I once had a friend who got a magazine-spread-like pool and patio complete with trucked-in-boulders and fountains. But around the same time, she lost her marriage. Some would say marriage is more complicated, but differences in backyard vision can be make-or-break. Sometimes one partner (often the man) just loves his lawn and saving money. The other partner wants a camera-ready showplace. This isn’t covered in pre-marriage counseling. We’ve all got to figure out how to walk the fine line of the garden path on our own — weeds and all.

Margee Moore is a syndicated columnist and author of the iPhone app, “Sleeping With the Laundry: Notes from the Mommy Track.” Need a laugh? Get Sleeping With the Laundry today!

Comments

  1. Stop reading the glossy mags, Margee! *wink*

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  2. Love this post and you ain’t kidding sister! Our backyard is a constant, ongoing conversation of “when you gonna get to X?” on both our parts. I’ve decided to think of it like my marriage. The more time I spend seeing how good it is and can be the happier I am with it. It takes time, work and LOTS of patience. Cheers!

    [Reply]

  3. Find out if you’ve picked the right one! Reveals the love and relationship potential between you and your partner. Other Home

    [Reply]

  4. Practical Mommy! Very practical advice. How I do love those mags though. They’re my fetish.

    [Reply]

  5. NotJustAnotherJen,

    Great perspective. It is all how you look at it.

    [Reply]

  6. OtherHome,
    Oooo LaLa!

    [Reply]

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