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15 May 2009

The War on Grass

Keeping your lawn nice while your young dogs are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.
Grass is the cheapest plant to install and the most expensive to maintain. - Pat Howell

The cost of having a nice grassy lawn with three young dogs is high. When we bought our house, the backyard was beautifully landscaped with a 1000 tons of river rock, 19 wild roses, 200 weeds at least 4 feet high and an ugly prickly holly tree. Yes, it was F-UGLY back there. It didn't take us long, as former landscapers, to rip out the weeds, roses and cut down the holly tree. It did take a bit longer to get the endless loads of rock removed but when we finally did, we had us one beautiful expansive mudpit. Not long after that, we brought in thick green sod, hardy evergreen leland cypresses and lots of mulch. It was frickin gorgeous. Did it last? Well, sort of.

We learned real fast that three dogs are hard on even the so-called toughest grass. When we open the door to let them outside, they gallop and barrell through the same path each time like it's the first time they've been outside in a century. They wear a lovely path through the entrance to back yard. They chase eachother back and forth and all around the yard for hours on end. Throughout the summer, there may be a few holes dug here and there that we try to patch up, only for them to get dug up again. And when the fall rains come, what's left of the grass turns into a muddy slimy mess. We re-seed every fall and every spring, gating off the yard, completely cutting off the dogs access to the grass as we try to revive it. This really pisses the dogs off and they plot together to jump the temporary fencing every time they go outside which usually results in us taking them out one by one on a leash to pee, it's either that or lifting each dog back over the fencing every time, risking smashing the new baby grass growing in.

So early this spring, we did it again. We fenced off the yard, leaving only the deck area for the dogs to do their business in. We re-seeded and the grass grew fast and within a month, we decided to open up half of the yard while we left the other half to grow a little longer. Oh man the dogs were happy. So happy in fact to have their yard back that they proceeded to spend the next two hours eating grass. We laughed at how happy they were only later in the middle of the night to be awoken to the sounds of dogs barfing up undigested grass. Well, that's alright, they hadn't had any grass in a month so they were just making up for lost time right? Well, each day since, and let me tell you, it's only been a little over a week, at least one dog has either barfed grass in the middle of the night or has pooped a grass log that we've had to help pull out. Come on, enough grass alright? They are fricking manic about it. Especially Huckleberry. I think she really has a problem. What do you do when your teenage laborador is hooked on grass? Mow it, says my father-n-law. So we did, we mowed it. Even better she says, she loves fresh cut grass even more. Hucky is just not a dog you say no to. If she wants it, she is going to do it and is willing to pay the consequences, well maybe not willing, but without enough mental capacity to realize the consequences.

I am in agreement with how this anonymous poet thinks: "I am not a lover of lawns. Rather would I see daisies in their thousands, ground ivy, hawkweed, and even the hated plantain with tall stems, and dandelions with splendid flowers and fairy down, than the too-well-tended lawn." However, poor Warren, his dream has always been to have the perfect green lawn like his dad did but now with these three houligans, he must hold dear in his memory the picture of our untouched perfectly green lawn - only available for the first few weeks each spring and surrounded by temporary fencing where no human or dog foot has yet touched. That's as long as it lasts. But it's enough to get us through the summer for nightly backyard fires, weekend bbq's, and many hours of lounging out there with dogs, watching them eat the precious grass.

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