Thursday, July 14, 2011

#52 - Yard Work - Here or There

Living in a suburb outside of Houston means we get to have a lovely yard with all of the tedious maintenance that it entails. My husband takes care of the weekly yard work which means mowing, edging and detailed weeding. Diligent lawn maintenance is part of a responsibility that comes with life in the city, and under the bright Texas sun, this can become a brutal chore.

Adding a tree to our tree-deprived neighborhood. I wanted a
Magnolia, so he's putting one in for me. Actually, it's grown
considerably, but we'll be taking it with us when we move to the forest.
On Saturday morning, you are tired, but you must wake up and get the yard done before the heat cranks up beyond 100 degrees. After all, there are neighborhood association regulations to follow and rigorous lawn maintenance is part of the agreement. And this is acceptable. People cannot live this close to one another unless there is a community agreement for the state of existence or you might find yourself living next to a bamboo forest or the artist next door who uses her front-yard to display the recycled trash as she sees as art, which would mean that you would never be able to  feasibly sell your own home. But, I still have that side to me that despises an association telling us how to live our daily lives around our homes. I guess it's a necessary evil for neighborhoods in places such as the Greater Houston area...and there you go.

After we remove the Magnolia to transplant to our land, I will
have another fast-growing tree planted in its place.
This Magnolia is MINE and it will go where I go.
So, there are vast differences between doing yard work on our acreage and doing yard work in the city. Deputy Dave spends about two hours per week at our house trying to keep things under control. If the grass gets too high, then it is very noticeable because the neighbor's lawns are a true yard-stick for measuring the height of your blades of grass. In Texas, we have to mow about every four days. The St. Augustine grass grows like crazy during the summer. Sometimes it seems too unreal as you nearly watch it grow inch by inch before your eyes.

Deputy Dave taking Shaye on a ride on the lawn tractor
down the city streets, for fun. She was about 2 yrs old.
In contrast to yard work in suburbia...when we are on our land in the midst of The Big Thicket, there is unending "yard" work always needing to be tackled, but we really only need to sit on the lawn tractor for hours to keep the "livable" zones somewhat navigable by foot. There are no areas needing to be weeded so that the neighbor's will be pleased. There are no sidewalks, driveways, walkways and patios to edge. Our land in particular has heavy forested areas that we can simply leave as it is --- untouched. So, even though we have nearly ten acres of land, that doesn't mean that we're breaking our backs trying to manicure every bit of acreage.

Our wooded land - beautiful - lush - diversified and time-less.
About nine years ago, we tried to partially clear about three acres of the thick underbrush, leaving all significant trees in their rightful place, but the voracious appetite of green growth in the area simply consumed the open areas with a vengeance. Unless we are living there full-time, the forest wins.

In suburbia, we are the yard champions. It is a small area that we cultivate and it is practical, yet still demanding. In the country, or rather, in the forest, it is nearly insurmountable, especially since we are trying to maintain the integrity of the forested land that we own.

Soon, we'll be on that lawn tractor every week and the experience of keeping the acreage looking healthy and homey will be pleasant. And any underbrush that is becoming unruly will be introduced to our goats. That's a plan I can't wait to implement. I can hear myself now..."Honey, you don't need the edger and the weedeater, just bring a few goats over and let them do their magic."

Deputy Dave and I several years ago as we're leaving the rodeo
after seeing Martina McBride in concert. Awesome!
We do love the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo!


Mike said...

Well Lana both of us know how I feel about Association 'fees'. We have Neighborhood Watch (no fees) which is intended for security but mainly yard up-keep. Depending on who you know is what you can get away with. Very lax. Just a few people trying desperately to stick their noses in your business. Doesn't work in an already well established neighborhood.
Maybe I'll write a post on this neighborhood. ;)

Lana at said...

Mike - I agree about the slanted opinions that can come with volunteers. One time, we had been cited for a dirty basketball backboard. Can you believe? My husband cleaned the backboard by pressure washing, then he dragged his huge BBQ pit to the front yard for a couple of weeks!! :-) Our neighbor got a notice because the boards between the concrete of her driveway had parts missing the wood. Sometimes, it is ridiculous and you wonder...Exactly how bored are these people? Oh well. I'll be so glad to not have to be a part of this silliness. After this neighborhood was hit HARD by a devastating hurricane in 2008 - nearly every home was covered with blue tarp roofs and you could not even get down most streets because of the took two years for our neighborhood to recover, so those notices came to an end. Everyone was also living in RV's in their driveway, throughout the neighborhood, so the "no recreational vehicles parked in front" was a lost cause. Actually, now the neighborhood looks a bit better because everyone has new roofs, paints, landscaping, etc...well, most everyone. I'll be over to visit you again and look forward to your posts.

LindaG said...

Unless we are living there full-time, the forest wins.

We are not lucky enough to have a forest. I love yours! But I feel your pain, as you know, haha! We have the same problem with the farm...

but we really only need to sit on the lawn tractor for hours to keep the "livable" zones somewhat navigable by foot.

Exactly! I try to get out and weed, but my knees don't like it, so I just try to get the plants I want growing faster than the weeds. :)

I look forward to seeing how it works with the goats on your property! :)

Rae said...

:) Goats are definitely awesome, as long as they respect the fence. Lol.

It's funny how your tool needs change when you move from the city to the country. You quickly go from lawnmower/rake/edger to tractor/brushhog/chainsaw! :)

Lana at said...

Linda --- I think that living on a good bit of land teaches us how to pick our battles with the yardwork! I don't know if we'll ever conquer the blackberries - to keep them out of the areas we don't want them growing in.

Rae --- Your comment about tools is so funny, so true and so expensive!!! We have been trying to keep up with the demand and are sometimes choking at the expense that a small-farm tractor, etc. is going to cost. Brush hog - yes, definitely need one of those and we've been through several chain saws. Never-ending...