Monday, July 7, 2014


When the landscaper repeatedly throws in phrases like, "It's only money," during the initial estimate, it is worrisome. Upon your meeting, he tells you that you have *such a cute* phone voice. Luckily this doesn't cost anything, because otherwise, it's rather down hill from there.

It's a small yard. A wee yard. A barely need a mower! yard. It's an originally deceptive yard*, conjuring visions of a small but verdant vegetable patch, with neither so much space as to overwhelm, nor so little as to rob one of self-satisfied deck dining or coffee sipping. But gradually, while the ferns never take, the first optimistic Fall's plantings of tulip and daffodil bulbs are savaged by squirrels and gnawing scrabblers, and the ventured vegetable garden stays a wan, homely plot**, your initial yardwork go-getem slumps off somewhere and the much more dominant inside crafty kitchen person is astoundingly good at pretending the yard does not actually exist.

{*to the unobservant, or easily fooled}
** baffled visitor: "You seem to have a ... fork patch. What's with all the plastic utensils?" Thank you, person. It was one of a million good online ideas. Easily mark your rows of beans and lettuce!...Unless things grow sparingly at best, and then it just looks silly.
With respect to larger yard projects or routine care, you are apparently immune to periodic self-shaming (your yard vs. other yards), motivation helpfully illustrated by Hyperbole and a Half. To wit: the grass has mange, nothing you would like to grow does so; though trash trees skyrocket, ivy slithers up walls, a vine pursues its master plan of toppling the birch tree; and moles and wombats inhabit the undergrowth. What can you do? Short of doing it?
"toll service" bill from Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company
Call someone, naturally. Plus, you can then also feel pleased for having called someone, as if it were the task itself. Ahem: I have almost made it so!

And that would be that, if your wallet was robust and also begging to be weeded. Perhaps pruned for its own good -- it may look sparse initially, but the money it will grow back, and much, much better than before. Now this, he does not promise. The landscaper pushes for what I'd "like to spend," which I try to push back on, but then opt for the lowest rung in his tiered budget ladder. He energetically gestures to what will be done in the front yard, and the story sounds great but already seems like a lot; I urge him to check out the back yard. And ohhhh, there's so much he'd like to do! And it would be cool, definitely. But the de-jungling: it's a lot of work. Which I get, and do not do, and have not done.

I shut down the initial estimate, which is three times higher than my rung. who said I would climb up there?  At this point, he observes, "You know, the home equity loans, those are really good, and you can just fold it into your mortgage payments." He nods to himself, "Yeah, I think that's a good way to go." He continues that the woman down the street was quite good at getting a fine rate, I could consult with her about it...I reiterate money, he returns to the prospect of a loan;  the manner with which he broaches it, returns to it, it's as if indebtedness is a soothing and welcome prospect for his clients. It's kind of fascinating, this estimate, because I actually think it's equal parts landscaper wanting to get past the initial grunt-work in order to create a harmonious space/reflect a vision AND concerted up-selling, at the most cynical end, merely herding me as sheeple to a nicely tunneled path to a much larger chunk of change. Hmmm. In any case, not spending that much money, no sirree.

And so, there was a second more palatable estimate from another source. And it is true that less was promised and the end result will be less dreamy, but hopefully the pruning will be liveable on all levels... Yard rescuers scheduled for tomorrow, barring a repeat of the afternoon monsoon today. Possible yard recovery, possible backyard swamp.


  1. Once they have it "rescued" there are lots of nearly maintenance free things you can add yourself to prettify things. Glad the second estimate was better.

  2. Thanks, Ann! I suspect this is only the i initial rescue -- in that the grass is more weeds than grass and a lot of what is happening is the trimming down, but more research is the next step!

  3. I see that you must have the same shape-shifting vine as we do. It creeps along until the sun sets - and then it is full charge ahead. Come morning, I don't notice all at once the advance of the yard-edge vegetation; only after I search for the patch of Lilly's I know we once had, seemingly swallowed by insatiable green.

    1. Yes! Michigan kudzu, most like! With your postings of garden bounty, though, you definitely have benevolent plants as well :) :)