Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Springtime Habits


Manicured lawn
Built upon sweat and savings
Crumbles by autumn

Lawn maintenance is high maintenance, and it is that time of the year again. That’s right fellows, more maintenance than your highest maintenance girlfriend ever, and more expensive to boot. Gadabout Jack is going to uncover another truth about American consumerism, wasted talent and labor, and most importantly, wasted cash.

First, let’s look at the big picture. There are about 80 million homes in the USA with yards that require care. That’s a lot grass, lawn mowers and mulch; and that is just for starters. Taking care of lawns and landscaping is big business, just drive by your local Home Depot and check out the gardening section. They are waiting for your annual pilgrimage to spend your hard earned cash-ola on flowers, walkways, trellises, mulch, lawn seed, low voltage lighting, fertilizer, planters, birdseed, water hoses…..we have all been through the drill before. Picture Home Depot in your mind’s eye for a moment. My inner vision sees all the goodies, crowds, credit cards and a soiled SUV. What do you see?

The million dollar question I pose for you is this—if all of these products really were worth it, then why do we have to have a do-over every year? My goodness, every single year Americans spend billions on a depreciating effort that holds limited value for about nine short months. By the end of November, after cleaning up leaves and other debris from the yard we are exhausted from our voluntary servitude and escape to our inside worlds, happy to have parked the lawn mover in the corner of the garage. I am speaking with authority here, I have been that Guy, I have wasted time and talents better served elsewhere.

So why do we follow the same pattern every year? The answer is that we believe in the high powered advertising; we are antsy to get back outdoors again are labor our backs and muscles; we like our home investments to appear happy and clean; we demand to keep up appearances; we associate success with a well manicured look; and most importantly we follow our ancient DNA patterns passed down through generations. This may hurt, but it is true. Like I already mentioned, I’ve been there. Hey, you might not need the cash you would save by taking a more natural based approach to the care and feeding of your house, and if so, go for it.

What are some of the ways we can cut back on costs, labor and environmental impacts:

1. Plant flowers from seeds and save a bundle.
2. Start a mulch area and reuse waste.
3. Think twice before buying high price items like low voltage lighting—they always break anyway.
4. In-ground water sprinkles are expensive to buy, install, and maintain. Plus, your water bill will sky rocket. Very wasteful.
5. Hold back on week killer products. They not only damage the environment, they kills weeds—weeds are plants too. Don’t be so insensitive!
6. Consider reducing or eliminating open grass areas and return your lawn back to a yard. You know, go natural.
7. Cultivate perennials.
8. Don’t be temped by the gigantic riding mower. They are a waste. Be a minimalist.
9. Think twice before buying.

I don’t spend a lot of cash on commercial lawn products anymore. I pull weeds, use what is at hand, and I save plenty of dough. I probably save more in my newfound non consumption than most families save in a year for retirement. More importanly, I have time for other pastimes and pleasures. Reflect on these words.


Mid Life Chaos said...

OK. Enough of the spiritual aspect of lawn care philosophy. You do it because you don't want your neighbor's home value to go down because you are a slob and don't care enough to keep your side of the street looking good. And you don't want your dental bills to go up because you are having trouble with your neighbors. So there you have it--bad lawn care equals bridge work and cosmetic surgery.

Gadabout Jack said...

Mid life chaos--good points, especially regarding dental work. But remember, when it comes to real estate prices it is location, location and square feet. Spending thousands each year at the Home Depot will not increase home value or curb appeal until it is on the market.