Not all lawns are simple. Lawns are not my favorite thing. I can’t stand the neighborhoods that require a bright green perfectly trimmed lawn in front of every house. I dug up our front lawn. But our back lawn is a very simple thing.
It’s a little bigger than a postage stamp, but not very big. It’s basically square. It has weeds in it. I don’t water or fertilize or chemically treat it in any way. It’s not particularly flat or pretty. The dog uses it as a bathroom. I hang washing over it. From time to time in the summer I even lay out a quilt and sit out on it.
The thing that made me think about it this afternoon was how simple it is to maintain. A few minutes ago I walked out of the basement after putting on the laundry and noticed that the lawn was a little bit long. So, before I went inside, I grabbed the push mower and mowed it. It took maybe 5 minutes. If I had needed to pick up dog poop before I started it would have taken 10 minutes.
The keys to keeping it simple:
– low standards. I don’t worry about the edging and weeds and all that stuff. From time to time we pull the weeds and clean up around the edges to make it easier to mow it cleanly, but I don’t have to do that every time. And right now it’s messy around the edges, but I just don’t care.
– a small lawn means we only need a human-powered push mower. I would prefer not to have a lawn that requires a motorized mower. The push mower is always ready to run. And it’s a good exercise. Not to mention quiet. And safe. I don’t need to put on proper shoes or ear protection to use it.
– keeping the mower right next to where it gets used. We store it in the basement over the winter when we don’t need to mow, but once it comes out in the spring, it lives on the back patio where it’s ready and waiting to be used. During the spring we sometimes need to mow every 4-5 days. I have no patience for getting things out and putting them away.
– the dog poop bags are easy to grab too – I keep them in a bag on the back porch where they are handy to grab for a quick pick-up anytime. We re-use kitchen plastic bags (bread bags, produce bags) so I keep the bag of bags where it’s easy to keep stocked from the kitchen.
– because it’s so quick to mow I don’t mind doing it right away when I see it getting long. Unless it’s extremely hot and bright, I don’t even need to worry about grabbing a hat. I don’t need to wear special clothes to mow and I don’t usually get especially sweaty doing it (unless it’s a hot and sweaty day anyway).
If it was any more difficult than this I would put off doing it. I am really good at procrastinating. But I very rarely put off mowing the lawn more than a day or two. Usually I tack the task on to something else I’m already doing, like laundry or dog walking.
It’s super simple.
And these are basic principles that can help in so many situations. Keep things where they’re used. Do it now. Better done than perfect. Use simple tools (a knife vs a food processor that takes minutes to retrieve and set up and is difficult to clean). Keep things small.
Of course simple isn’t everything. My front garden is simple in some ways and complicated in others. I keep it as simple as I can – buying plants that don’t need a lot of maintenance, for one thing – but the beauty of the garden is worth the complication. Sometimes I do think it would have been easier to just clean up the front lawn… I could have had a much smaller garden… but I’m probably just saying that because I’ve gotten way behind on my weeding. The good news is that you would hardly notice, because my crazy simple garden hides the problem.
That’s my thought of the day.
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