Keep your eyes on trees, flowers

Wayne MitchellAs I look around our yard in New Albany, I find that there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that we’ve have made it through an entire year without killing off any trees.

We like trees. Lots of them. One of the things that drew us to the house we bought in New Albany was that when we look out the back, all we can see is trees. It’s practically a forest, or at least a grove.

We decided to add nine more: seven crepe myrtles and a redbud in the side yards and a maple out front. Having no real landscaping talent, we had them installed by professionals. Since then we’ve managed to kill two crepes, the maple, and the redbud twice. We gave up on redbuds and planted another maple.

Finally, all the trees look healthy, have lots of green leaves and are growing well this summer. The maple out front has even gotten big enough that it is attractive to birds. We have a nest in it, where a bird is patiently awaiting the arrival of her little ones.

And our flower beds are packed with blooming flowers, mostly perennials that Jenny and our son Joe planted. The beds are so crowded that they look like English gardens.

Ah, success.

Well, sort of. As long as you don’t look at the real yard – the lawn. Growing grass is supposed to be the easy part, especially with the Bermuda sod that was installed when the house was new.

But everywhere I look out front, I see patches of dirt. All those professional applications of weed killer and fertilizer have failed to make a photo-quality lawn.

It may be the dirt that is the problem. Our front yard slopes and doesn’t retain much water, even when I use a sprinkler. By midsummer, you would need a pickax to dig a hole.

Growing up in the Kansas City area, I don’t remember my father agonizing about his grass. He did carry a pocketknife all the time and often whipped it out to dig up a dandelion. But that was about the extent of his systematic lawn-care program, because he was busy with his garden.

But we always had grass in Kansas City. Real blade grass, not the crawling weed-like stuff we call grass here in our warmer climate. I didn’t appreciate grass then; I only remember having to mow it, much like Joe does today.

I really want to have a nice yard, one like you see the family frolicking on in the fertilizer commercials on television. And I can see one like that anytime I want to. I just look out my front window at the neighbor’s yard across the street.

“Why can’t ours look like that?” Jenny asked.

“Because he’s got better dirt, better sod and he spends hours and hours every week out manicuring his lawn,” I said, from the comfort of our living-room couch.

Uh oh. It’s time to change the subject, I thought.

“Let’s go sit on the patio,” I suggested.

There’s something to be said for all those green, leafy trees and blooming flowers.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by email at wayne.mitchell@journalinc.com.

About Wayne Mitchell

Publisher of the New Albany Gazette