Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Epic Lawn-Making

We have a huge yard, but with Diana's parents being gardening maniacs, there is hardly an inch of free space in it -- vegetables, flowers and berry shrubs are all over the place. You can't really find an open pitch to set up a sun lounge, roll in the grass, play badminton or practice Tai Chi. So this summer, finally, Diana and I decided to put an end to the vegetable supremacy and fight for our sunbathing rights.

First, we marked the territory by placing rods (like in Disciples II) and stretching cords between them. For that we chose the patch behind the house, where strawberries had been growing previously (they would be replanted later to a different patch). My father-in-law had already mowed the strawberries, so I just had to dig them over and root them up.

Just. Actually, that turned out to be an epic struggle lasting for three days. The strawberries weren't exactly cooperative, so the process kinda reminded rooting up the Mandrakes, except they weren't screaming (to my luck). Can you imagine an underground network of long, stringy roots connecting dozens of plants to each other, like a secret web? That's how strawberry communities grow. You know, social plants make me feel creepy ever since I read Clifford D. Simak's All Flesh Is Grass.

By the time I was finished with those hive-minded strawberries, I got some really nasty sunburn on my back. Great. Now I have my own farmer's tan...

See those sleeveless shirt markings? Americans
call this particular type of tan-lines "Texas tan."

Back to the lawn-making. The next step was to enclose the future lawn in a plastic edging to isolate it from the surrounding vegetation, although I suspect even our super-deep (20 cm) edging won't be enough to prevent some especially impudent specimens from trying to invade our lawn. Anyway, planting that edging into the ground wasn't a piece of cake, either. The plastic stripe refused to be buried alive, twisting like a snake in my hands, so it took quite a while.

Now it was time to buy some grass seeds. After some pondering, we set our choice on a frost-resistant brand. Hopefully, it will survive our harsh falls and springs. Or at least die trying.

Diana's father, being a lot more experienced farmer than me, volunteered to conduct the sowing part. However, he confessed that he never had actually sown any grass before, only vegetables and such, and issued a disclaimer over the consequences. While my father-in-law was mellowing the soil with a rake, I was gaping at the contraption he had prepared for stomping the seeds into the ground.

As soon as the seeds were scattered, the stomping part began. Naturally, there were yet more cooperation issues: the seeds didn't seem to be too fond of being trampled into the earth, preferring to be carried away with the wind instead. No matter how hard we tried to stomp them, they just kept laying on the surface, tanning under the sun. Hopefully, sooner or later, they will have no choice but to grow into the soil.

Thus ends the epic lawn-making. Now all we have to do is wait and see what comes out of it (literally). If everything goes right, we may see the grass popping up in a couple of weeks.