Thursday, April 30, 2009

Living Up to the Joneses

It is extremely important to me that my professional colleagues think highly of my work, but the opinions of others don't worry me much in the rest of my life (though I do shower occasionally and dress in clothing that mostly matches). The outside appearance of Farcical Farm is one exception. I grew up in middle class neighborhood where everyone kept their home and property looking neat and tidy because everyone else expected as much. Anyone who didn't keep to the code was quietly tsktsked by the whole neighborhood, bringing shame upon their entire families. That kind of environment is too extreme for my adult tastes, but I do feel compelled to keep Farcical Farm looking acceptable for the sake of neighborhood appearance.*

For the past two summers David and I have been busy with home renovations, promising ourselves that the summer of 2009 would be dedicated to landscaping. We have mowed the lawn and trimmed the hedges, but otherwise ignored the state of the flora around the house. When I mowed the lawn for the first time last week I was appalled (but not surprised) to find the grass/weed mix at about 50/50 and vowed to start correcting it. On Tuesday we had the septic pumped and checked (no point in rehabilitating a lawn if it's only going to get ripped up again) and on Wednesday I purchased my weapons: a weeder, a seed spreader and some turf builder. So far I have manually weeded about 1/10 of the lawn (which also serves to aerate the lawn, considering the density of the dandelions) in six hours. Thank goodness I love mindless, repetitive tasks (I'm not kidding, I really do. Really.) What do you do to keep your place up to snuff?

*With apologies to Funder I will admit that we refer to the least well-kept property in the neighborhood as the "hillbilly house".


8 comments:

Funder said...

When we would tsk-tsk the neighbors, we would say their place looked "trashy." There's a difference between well-kept but poor, or even eccentric, and just plain trashy. Nobody wants to be trashy!

Do you read Cool Tools? You might like this weed puller for the toughest weeds.

Grey Horse Matters said...

We have so many dandelions it looks like a field of yellow flowers instead of grass. Mostly we just get the tractor out and mow it down. I do try to keep some flowers in some beds but this year I'm doing perennials so they come up every year and there's no extra planting going on. Good luck with your landscaping. I like a place to look great but can't find the actual time to do it.

EvenSong said...

My dad was a big one on appearances and curb appeal. Being way out in the country, and a good 500-600 feet from the actual road, my yard leaves something to be desired. The automatic sprinklers the previous owner put in were really nice until a couple of pipes got broken, then, for the last two years nothing has gotten watered! Course, watering then necessitates mowing...

I love flowers, but I don't take the time to maintain anything floral, so they better be pretty hardy!

Because of the dyi nature of our farm/barn building process, there's always some project underway, but safety is my first priority, and then SOME semblence of professionalism.

resesses = the part of my brain where housekeeping thoughts hide

dp said...

That weeder is AWESOME Funder, but holy cow...with the GBP equal to $1.80 Canadian it would cost at least $200 with shipping and everything. I will have to make do with my $30 one for a while longer. Thanks for the great link, though.

Brandy said...

Well, our house has had the same gardener for well over 20 years, and he does a spectacular job with the manicured parts.

We had pulled out all the dying huge trees on the hillside in the back, and I'm torn between a pretty mediterranean style thing with fruit trees or a water savvy native plant garden (which is happening due to my ennui anyway!)

We've been doing other stuff of late. I got the sliding door to the back yard repaired, it had been stuck since the '94 earthquake! (mother in law died that year, and the house has had little regular maintenance since then...)

Got that water leak in the back bathroom fixed, bought a spanking new fancy water saving washer with working dryer! I hope the utility bills get a bit lower from that, the last 2 bills were $400 for 2 months. But Dad is eligible for a senior discount that will save $100 over 2 months, that will help...

I bought a pretty gazebo/screened tent thingie at a discount, as soon as we trash out the junk in the back we'll put it and the fancy new hammock up. Then we want to buy a new BBQ and maybe have friends over for a pool party!

But we also have to clean the house inside... We got the 2 bathrooms fairly clean and mostly usable, and we are gonna need a new hot water heater and dishwasher this year as well....

Then just put stuff away and dust and vacuum, and viola, party time!

But first a nap...

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I like mindless repetitive tasks as well, which is why I enjoy spinning and knitting. You get to a sort of Zen like place when you work like that. :)

Shooeee, you've been busy.
Landscaping around here, you ask? Not much to be done around here. Plants don't grow lush and tall in our mountain desert southwest. Rabbits and critters trim our weeds and grass. And we only have to mow once a year in July or August after our monsoon rains, which is the only time when the grass grows tall.

I prune our fruit trees once a year and maybe once or twice a year we'll need to use the weed trimmer around the edges.

~Lisa

Black Jack's Carol said...

Interesting. This post triggered some sensitive points, so sensitive that I started to write a response and deleted it. I probably have the same need as you do to be respected by professional colleagues, and to look acceptable for the sake of neighborhood appearance. But deep down, I resent that such outward manifestations of our worth as human beings are judged, and find myself rebelling in small ways. I guess I hope you leave a few weeds, or at least a little wildness, to put your individual stamp on Farcical. I just had quite a conversation with Bill about this, and his last comment was, "I mean, dandelions are pretty, and you can harvest them for a salad, and you can also hold them under the chin of a child to see if they like butter."

dp said...

Fear not, Carol -- I am not on a mission to eradicate all dandelions in pursuit of that perfect golf-course lawn. I will be happy with a 50% reduction in weeds this summer, I think.

And I mostly agree with your sentiment about judging books bey their covers (I could never live happily in the kind of environment in which I grew up), but social niceties are important too. The state of Farcical Farm not only reflects on David and I as property-keepers, it also reflects on how we feel about our neighbors, I think. Letting the property run wild sends the message that you have no respect for their values, and that breeds bad relationships. Our neighbors are very good to us, and one way for us to thank them is to keep our place looking respectable. It's a balance, with nothing but a little elbow grease necessary to tip the scales.

Lisa: I can't imagine living in a place where you only have to mow the lawn once a year.