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The Guy On The Other Side Of The Fence

June 28, 2022

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

My neighbors have some really nice lawns. Some of them hire a service. Some do it themselves. But, they nearly all have nice lawns. My house, before I bought it, was a rental. There was no one to take care of the lawn. My neighbors used to send their teenagers down to my house to mow the lawn just so it would keep the weeds down.

I’ve now been in my house for ten years. At first whatever I did was better than what was here before. I mostly got a pass on my lawn care. I think my neighbors figured, “Hey, it’s better than it was before.”

But, I have to admit, I care about my lawn just as much as my neighbors. Last year, I thought I had a clever solution to keeping my grass green. I watered it every day.

Now, my town, like a lot of cities in Utah, has secondary water, or irrigation water. It’s what connects to our sprinkler systems. Each home owner is only allowed to water three days per week. It’s based on your house number. Odd numbers get to water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Even numbers get to water Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

But, I figured out how to water six days per week.

My sprinklers are programmable. So, I set the sprinklers to run on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 1:00 AM and 10:00pm. So, my sprinklers would run Sunday early morning, Sunday late at night (essentially Monday morning,) and then Tuesday early morning and Tuesday late at night. The same for Thursday early and late. The only night my lawn wasn’t watered was Friday night into Saturday.

I have to admit, I felt guilty about the watering. Our secondary water is not metered. We don’t pay for how much we use. But, I was going to get a nice green lawn, right?

Wrong.

During the heat of the summer, my lawn really started to fade. I got bare patches. The grass in much of it was weak and sickly.

My problem?

Too much water.

I didn’t even know you could have too much water.

Early this Spring I asked a local gardening expert what I could do to keep my lawn green AND save water. I had already converted two sections of my yard from grass to low water landscaping. I wanted to do my part. And I was still feeling a little guilty about last year.

He said something surprising.

Avoid watering in the Spring. Hold off as long as you can after May 1 when they turn on secondary water. If you avoid water in the Spring that will force your grass to develop stronger roots. Then, when the summer heat kicks in your grass will tolerate it better.

I had never considered that. Last year, I thought I was being smart and I was really being stupid.

The weather in Utah right now is in the mid 90s. It’s hot. And I’m only watering two days per week: Tuesday and Sunday. And my lawn? Amazingly it’s one of the greenest in the neighborhood.

I guess you really can have too much of a good thing.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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