One thing that has been a pretty drastic change to my life since buying a house has been the introduction of yard work into my regular routine. Having spent the previous 7 years of my life in an apartment, yard work hasn’t been a concern of mine for quite some time. Truthfully, having to take care of a lawn was about the furthest thing from my mind. Aside from a couple of times mowing my dad’s grass while he was out of town, most of my outdoor activity was based around either pavement or public parks where it’s somebody else’s job to worry about that stuff. Get off work? Don’t have to worry about mowing the grass. Have the weekend off? Not gonna think about raking leaves. Gorgeous day outside? Absolutely not gonna give a shit about landscaping.
Luckily, I was able to get a nice, easy acclimation to yard work in my new house. No wait, it’s the opposite of that. I got smacked in the face with 5 FUCKING SWEET GUM TREES IN MY YARD. 5 trees worth of leaves would easily be enough work on its own. The fact that I also have 5 trees worth of gumballs in my yard only adds to the giant middle finger that mother nature is giving me on the regular. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my house but these trees in my yard can fuck right off. Now, I’m not an arborist by any means, but I do have access to Google and have tried to look up a bit of information about these trees. Based on recently acquired expertise on the subject, I have surmised that the trees in my yard are all somewhere between 20 and 150 years old. As my house was built in 1973, this means that these trees were clearly either already there when the house was built, or they were planted afterwards. Those are my 2 options; they are either older or younger than the house. By the process of elimination, I have made that broad and entirely unhelpful non-conclusion.
Well hello there, Satan
Let’s start off with the first option: the trees were already there when the house was built. I do know that the house was purposefully built by the first owners; it wasn’t put up in some large cookie-cutter subdivision project. So, this means that they looked at this piece of land with these gumball trees and said, “Here. I was my house right in the middle of these trees because I just absolutely can’t wait to deal with this bullshit every year.” I mean, presumably, there were some other trees in the area that had to be cleared out to make adequate room for the construction. Maybe all the other trees there were also sweet gum trees and they cut back from 17 to 5. But why stop there? 5 sweet gum trees is 5 too many. Clear out all of them and start fresh with a type of tree that isn’t an enormous pain in the ass to deal with. Obviously, that would have been a more ideal course of action than to build a sweet new house that you can’t even enjoy because you’re constantly out in the yard picking up gumballs.
Naturally, the other potential scenario would be that the trees were planted some time after the house was built. This is seemingly an even more ridiculous scenario. I can’t imagine who in their right mind would have a blank slate of a yard and think to themselves, “Boy, I really wish I had 5 fucking trees worth of gumballs to pick up every year. That would sure keep me occupied and I am lacking in the hobby department.” If you have the opportunity to choose what sort of tree you’re planting, how could you possibly choose a sweet gum tree? And why on earth would you opt for 5 of them? The only conceivable way in which someone would willingly plant these trees is if the previous owners who planted them knew they would be moving out of the house before the trees started flowering around the 15-20 year mark (thank you, Google) and wanted to pull an epic troll job on the next owners of the home. And if that’s the case: congratulations, you fuckin’ got me good.
Between the 5 trees worth of leaves and gumballs, my patience for yard work is already nearing critical mass. I am at a point where I am heavily considering buying stock in whatever company makes those yard waste bags because my yard is nearly single-handedly keeping that industry rolling. For the sake of being able to enjoy the yard without threat of twisting my ankle, the gumballs are obviously something that’s gotta go, but the leaves are an entirely different story. Were it just up to me, I would say “Fuck it” and let the leaves just hang out in my yard until they either blow away or decompose. But unfortunately, peer pressure exists, and I can’t help but look around at all the other houses near us who have neatly raked yards and then feel like a lazy asshole when I see my yard covered in leaves. I imagine the only way I might feel more ashamed about it would be if I had a car up on cinderblocks in my yard.
We went with this instead of pink flamingos
In addition to an excessive amount of sweet gum tree shrapnel littering my yard, we also inherited a pretty sizeable amount of landscaping in our yard. We have landscaping wrapping around the entire front and side of the house and 2 large landscaped areas on either side of the end of our driveway. I imagine at one point in time this landscaping looked pretty neat. Unfortunately, right now it does not look pretty neat. I’m not blaming the previous owner of the house for the fact that the landscaping has deteriorated; she was an older lady living there by herself so I wouldn’t expect her to be pulling lots of landscaping duties. Regardless, it’s obvious that the landscaping has been left to its own defenses for a while now and we will have to replace all of it in there near-to-mid future. In the meantime, there’s a literal shit ton of weed-eating to do throughout and around all this landscaping, there are plenty more leaves stuck in and around the raggedy-ass shrubs and bushes that are part of the landscaped area, and somehow even though most of the rocks that were originally in the landscaping seem to have disappeared (unless they just skimped on rocks to start) what remains of the rock loves to migrate out into the yard for me to find with the lawnmower. Again, going back to my proficiency with Google, some light internet reading in preparation for the inevitable nightmare of redoing all of the landscaping, I have found numerous testimonies to the ineffectiveness of weed barrier fabric. You mean to tell me that people do all this work to still spend the rest of their lives pulling fucking weeds out of their landscaping? Fuck all of that, I’m ready to just pave over the yard at this point and put in a parking lot.
Please start singing “Big Yellow Taxi” to yourself now. Both Joni Mitchell and Counting Crows are acceptable.
Probably the least bothersome part of all this newly encountered yard work is mowing the grass. Truthfully, I’m mostly ambivalent about mowing the grass. It’s overall a relatively painless experience where I get to put in some earbuds and dance my way around the yard for an hour every few days. I don’t enjoy mowing the lawn, but I don’t hate it. And I don’t really take any particular pride in it, it’s just a thing that is done. Which also makes it really weird that after I’m done doing this thing that I have no strong feelings about whatsoever, I still look out across the yard proudly and think, “That looks much better.” Perhaps you’ve seen the meme floating around the about dad’s looking proudly over their lawn after mowing and it’s stupidly accurate because I seriously don’t even care about my lawn and I still can’t help myself from turning into a complete caricature of a person just standing there feeling self-satisfied about grass.
Why am I like this? What have I become?
I will say that my fiancée does A LOT in the yard with all the bushes and landscaping; partly because she’s a bit of a plant addict and partly because she knows if I starting messing with all of it I’d just get pissed off and burn it all down. Really, I’m just biding my time with all this yard work until I can pawn it off on the kids in a couple of years. They’re 7 now and I’ve been getting them trained to start picking up the gumballs and the leaves little by little. I’m still relatively new to this whole dad thing, but I’m pretty sure that’s the whole reason people have kids, right? For the free labor around the house? I refuse to pay a lawn care company to come take care of my yard for me when we have 2 (mostly) capable minions sitting in the living room playing Minecraft. The yard doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to not be the shittiest one on the street. And since nobody else on our street has a rusted-out car on cinder blocks in their yard, we have some work to do.