24 October 2006

Home improvement for the terminally lazy

I’ve been laughing at some online galleries of photos by home inspectors. (Volume 1, Volume 2.)

The wrench foundation is basically what was under our house, but with wooden shims instead of a wrench, and concrete instead of metal for the pillar.

The one that made me laugh hardest was the air circulation masterpiece.

Anyhow…there’s a saying that hard work pays off tomorrow, but laziness pays off immediately. Well, sometimes laziness pays off tomorrow as well, especially when it comes to gardening.

Last summer I noticed that the grass out back wasn’t doing too well. I have to assume it was planted by whoever built the house, and that they just picked the cheapest grass seed. In winter and spring it would grow like crazy, and then in summer it mostly turned brown and died. It clearly wasn’t suited to a Texas climate.

Then this summer, I noticed that some kind of plant was gradually taking over. It was a bit like clover, but bigger. It started as a couple of patches, but by mid summer it had pretty much replaced all the grass on the right side of the path, and had somehow made the leap to a patch on the left side. I pondered whether this was the kind of thing that ought to be treated with weedkiller.

In the end, though, I wasn’t too concerned about doing anything, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was too damn hot to do anything; and secondly, we wanted to get rid of the unsuitable grass anyway and replace it with something more suited to local conditions. The plan was to get some buffalo grass sod put down, or perhaps a hybrid like Turffalo planted via plugs.

Then last week we paid an arborist to inspect our trees and offer advice on how to best take care of them. I asked him about the stuff that had eaten the lawn, and he told me it was Horse Herb. It’s a native ground covering of the Texas hill country. It thrives in the shady areas under live oak trees, forming a thick, lush, lawn-like surface that you can mow just like a regular lawn.

So by being lazy, we got a free native plant lawn replacement. It doesn’t need watering in summer, and you only have to mow it every 2-4 months. It produces tiny yellow flowers at the end of summer, and is apparently robust enough to crowd out weeds. Sure, you can’t play golf on it, but you can walk on it, sit on it, and watch squirrels dig in it.

So instead of expensive lawncare, our best bet is to roto-till the bald patches in the back yard with some organic fertilizer, get some Horse Herb seed from the Lady Bird Johnson wildflower center, and sow. Then simply leave it alone. Awesome.

The other secret to Texas lawn care I have discovered is mulching. Get a mower which mulches. Sure, it’s good for the lawn, but what’s even better is you don’t have to rake, bag up clippings, or drag sacks of yard waste around.

© mathew 2017