Thursday, October 1, 2009

Too Many Choices For Yards In The Hill Country

In the Midwest, having a yard is straightforward enough. Everyone has grass, and everyone waters and mows it. Oh sure, there are choices. Do you want Kentucky Blue Grass, Fescue, or Perennial Ryegrass? Do you want a push mower, self-propelled, riding mower, gas mower, or electric? Do you want to bag the cut grass or not? Stuff like that.

As I was mowing my yard yesterday, for only the third time this year, it occurred to me how different things are in the hill country. There are a lot more choices to make about what to do with the yard.

Given the much hotter and drier climate than in the Midwest, the first choice to make is whether you want grass at all. In my area at least, I’d say it’s a fairly even split between grass and rocks, with the edge going to grass.

Then, of course, there are the hybrid homeowners who just can’t decide between the two. In order to cope with their indecision, they have part grass and part rocks. In other cases, people have just said, “to heck with it,” and have poured concrete over the entire “yard.” Others fill the yard with cactus or bushes. Others still, perhaps the most “eco-friendly” of all, leave things in a natural state.

With respect to grass in the hill country, you’ve got three basic choices. Bermuda, St. Augustine, or Buffalo grass. Everyone has their personal choice of lawn grass I suppose, and I’ll leave the decision about what grass is better to those who actually know what they’re talking about. All I know is that I have Bermuda. I didn’t pick it, it came with the house.

Bermuda grass is something like I’ve never experienced before moving to Texas. It doesn’t grow straight up from the ground like a normal blade of grass, but comes up from the ground and immediately begins slithering out sideways like a snake. It’s often called the “Devil’s Grass” because once it starts slithering, it does not stop. Into the garden it goes, into the neighbor’s lawn (grass or rocks), anywhere it damn well pleases it seems. Try to stop it by hacking at the end, and it’s like a Hydra which grows back more heads. That’s the bad part. The good part is that Bermuda is the cockroach of the grass world. It's a survivor. You can ignore it, deny it water, drive over it, walk over it, let the dogs do their business in it, abuse it in any way imaginable, and you’ve still got grass. Bermuda grass gives you unconditional love, just like the family dog.

I guess the choice with a rock yard is whether to have larger or smaller rocks. The advantage with rocks is that you don’t need a mower, gasoline, oil, or have to worry about watering or sharpening mower blades. Homeowners with large rocks don’t need anything I guess, maybe a shovel. Smaller rock homeowners need a rake to keep their “lawn” looking good for the neighbors.

In the end, I think I’ll stick with my Bermuda, despite the onerous three or four times a year mowing schedule, and the need to get a half gallon of gas for the mower every few years.

The real deciding factor for me, however, is that I don’t have to say to my wife while walking out the door, “I’m going out to rake the rocks.” That would sound to her like I didn't have enough to do.

1 comment:

  1. and other famous Texas natives, such as David Koresh, prefer 1/2 buried school buses and bunkers instead of grass or rocks.