Do it Yourself

As soon as I finish this column I plan to relax in the yard and watch the lawn grow.

That probably sounds strange or possibly just very English but I seriously want to see the seeds I planted four days ago develop into grass, and I fully intend to enjoy the experience.

To be fair, the English are obsessed with their gardens, but they don’t dig up lawns and then watch the seeds.

And if they do change their lawn most wouldn’t take two months to do all the work themselves with hand tools.

No, like people anywhere who can afford to do so, most would simply pay a landscaping company to do the job.

That’s what my neighbour did. His lawn is the green thing on the right side of the photo at the top of the page and my lawn-to-be is the brown one on the left.

His yard is even more neat and tidy than it used to be, and I have to admit it took very little time for it to look that way once the work began.

But I suspect he doesn’t get half as much pleasure from his grass as I do from my dirt.

He drove off to work one day as the landscapers were firing up a petrol-powered tilling machine that chewed up the old lawn and mulched it into the soil.

That part of the job took about five hours and the tiller moaned and groaned in an uneven, irritating way as it ploughed through the soil.

I know that because I was at home trying to write at the time.

The next day the workers cut concrete paving stones with an electric powered circular masonry saw to lay out the path.

I was home trying to write during that one too. Then, over the next three days, they off-loaded rolls of sod, cut and laid out the farmed blocks of grass to create a lawn and did all the trim work.

And that was it; all Tom had to do was write a cheque.

It took me four weeks to remove my 50 square metre lawn by cutting it into 30 centimetre squares and then slicing under the roots with a flat-head shovel.

Scattering old lawns in the bush is frowned upon over here so I also had to drive the squares to the dump before I could level the plot and plant seeds.

It was hard work, but I’m not complaining.

I chose to do this thing the hard way because I believe doing a job yourself, when you can, makes it more likely the finished product will provide lasting satisfaction.

The problem, though, is that when you do lots of one off projects you have to do a lot of research and take your time; and if you get it wrong, there won’t be much satisfaction.

I’ve just gone to check on my patch of dirt and I don’t see any grass yet.

Hum… this lawn watching lark may not be as relaxing as I had planned, but if the grass doesn’t come out quite right the first time, I think I know enough now to make it right.

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