The Green, Green Grass of Home

In 1966 Welsh born singer Tom Jones scored a major hit in the U.S. singing about a death row inmate, who dreams about seeing his family once again gathered beneath the shade of an old oak tree, where they can stand on the lush texture of the green, green grass of home. It is a dream many homeowners have sans the fearsome element of capital punishment. Still we often share that same forlorn hope as Jones’ doomed jailbird in our desire to enjoy such a verdant, pastoral setting. The advantage that we have, besides being real people, can be found in the freedom we possess for pursuing our dreams as long as we are willing to do a little planning and a lot of sweat stained work.

A good lawn needs care and the work involved to achieve the splendor in the grass of poetic fame means that our dreams must first be transformed into attainable goals in order for our yards to undergo a similar transformation from weedy lot to elegant landscape.

This is business management 101, which is just as valid a concept for our home improvement goals as it is for the more lucrative aspects of the marketplace. Having a vision, assessing the conditions, devising a strategic plan and then marshalling the necessary resources (both in finances and sweat equity) to fund its implementation can result in a dream come true. It’s just a matter of being honest with ourselves about the extent of our willingness to invest whatever it takes to make our aspirations a reality.

My own lawn is caught within such a migratory status, moving from horse pasture to private park land. The twenty years during which it underwent an aeration process thanks to cloven hoofs and the selective grazing of insatiable equines has left me with a formidable challenge in reclaiming the damaged areas, while nurturing what remains of the beautiful. I could have disked it all once the horses departed for their new home and started afresh with a view of creating a pristine environment from the outset. But there are views and settings worthy of keeping as is since they are both pleasing to the eye and possessive of certain memories one can only cherish and retain no matter how sparse the turf has become.

My strategy is to tackle the worst spots first; the less offensive areas being more palatable to my aesthetic sensibilities. My tactical method for their remedy is to follow what master gardeners refer to as cultural means. I pull the weeds, versus nuking them with some formula of herbicide, in a manly one-on-one contest for supremacy. And so far I have won each battle. The final outcome of the war has yet to be decided, however.

There is consolation in the meantime of being able to look back over the battlefield at the end of the day and see improvement. It also provides me with the quip, which I like to share with others, that I weed my yard like everyone else, one acre at a time.

I will win no accolades for my endeavors from any independent source. The spoils accredited to the victor will simply be of my own making. And like the mournful prisoner intoning his lament in the Tom Jones tune, I would find it richly rewarding to welcome others to the shade of my old, oak tree – or elm or apple or pear – where we can leisurely lounge within their shade and confirm that it is good “to touch the green, green grass of home.”

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