House proud, but not yard proud

Sunny Saturdays from March through November in my house nearly always include yard work. Summertime is not my favorite time to work outside, though. I think running power tools before 9 a.m. is rude, so I don’t do it to my neighbors. This means that I get started later in the day than I should, and it gets hot here in July.

Really hot.

No, that’s not Photoshopped. But that thermometer is on the south side of the house and in the sun. Let’s go around to the cooler north side of the house and see what we find …

Oh yes, that’s much better!

After yoga, dog walking, and running my recycling out to the transfer station (all of which had to be done in the coolest part of the day), I got started a little before 11 this morning pulling weeds, pruning bushes and edging and mowing the lawns. I worked until after 4 p.m., the peak heat of the day. I finally put my tools away and headed for the shower one step ahead of heat exhaustion.

So my lawns look nice and even once again, anyway, but they’ve long since succumbed to heat exhaustion and I’ve given up hope of keeping them green, let alone lush. My irrigation is set for 30 minutes per station three times a week, which is enough to keep most of the grass from dying completely but is not enough to make the whole lawn green. The only parts of the lawn that actually stay green all summer are directly around the sprinkler heads.

That’s a lot of dead lawn.

Even with this miserly ration and commensurately poor results, I still consume upwards of 15,000 gallons of water a month watering my lawns in the summer. This is potable city water, mind you, not free irrigation water from the river as some local subdivisions have (my subdivision does not). My neighbors who have larger lots and who water every day (as many of them do) consume considerably more, of course, and most of their lawns are lushly green all summer long so you can imagine the millions of gallons of water this one small city pours on its lawns every single day.

The annual rainfall here is less than one foot, so I don’t feel guilty about watering my yard as little as possible–just enough to keep the neighbors from complaining about dust blowing off my lot–and neatly mowing down the vigorously growing drought-tolerant weeds every week. I am not yard proud because my lawn is not where my treasure lies. Keeping it neat is good enough for me.

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