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RE: Turf war?

I started taking a combination yoga/pilates class about 18 months ago and
have found it to be extremely helpful in the garden. Sounds funny when I put
it that way, but there it is. When we are doing an exercise or posture our
instructor always tells us what muscle group we should be using to support
the pose without strain to anything else. When I'm bent over in the garden
pulling on something, or reaching way into the middle of a bed, those little
instructions pop back into mind. The strength and flexibility required to
hold the poses comes in handy too. I haven't felt achy after gardening in
over a year. I'm a bit younger than you, but not by that much, and I'm
afraid no one would describe me as being "in shape".  


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-gardenchat@hort.net [mailto:owner-gardenchat@hort.net] On Behalf
Of Taborri
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2006 9:32 PM
To: gardenchat@hort.net
Subject: Re: [CHAT] Turf war?

I've been questioning gardening soreness for several years.  I'm 49 years
and a runner, 4+ miles per day.  I can do Yoga, even sporadically.  I can do
anything and not end up sore.  Except garden.  I get unbelievably sore from
gardening and yard work.  I have been waiting for the right time and
to write a book of the right kind of exercises to get and keep gardeners in
shape.  :>

----- Original Message -----
From: Bonnie & Bill Morgan
To: gardenchat@hort.net
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2006 17:58
Subject: RE: [CHAT] Turf war?

They neglect, in the article, to mention the benefits of doing such things
yourself, such as exercise, family chore times together, fresh air....  Too
bad, too.

Bonnie (SW OH - zone 5)

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-gardenchat@hort.net [mailto:owner-gardenchat@hort.net] On Behalf
Of Bonnie Holmes
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2006 5:26 PM
To: gardenchat@hort.net
Subject: [CHAT] Turf war?

Thought you might find this interesting...perhaps articles like these
encourage people to think that "gardening" is a waste of time and that a
"service" gives them more free time.



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Turf War
What's the Most Cost-Effective Way
To Mend the Cullens' Heat-Ravaged Lawn?
April 27, 2006
Last summer's heat wave scorched most of the grass on our lawn, and
Gerry -- disgusted after spending most of the year weeding, watering and
tending the grass -- finally gave up, not even bothering to fertilize
last fall. "What's left to feed?" he asked.

As spring approached, we realized we'd made a big mistake: Our front
lawn now resembles a vacant lot, overrun with weeds of all shapes and
sizes, with the small patches of grass that did recover now under siege.
The lawn looks so terrible we should probably just go ahead and put one
of our old cars up on cement blocks as a finishing touch. And our defeat
has left us wondering whether paying for a lawn-care service makes more
sense than continuing to do it ourselves.

Then there are those who wonder why we bother in the first place.
Gerry's Irish-born dad -- who sold us his home five years ago -- doesn't
understand Americans' obsession with having lawns worthy of the Masters
tournament. He wonders why Gerry and I waste time and money trying to
grow one. My father-in-law can still recall the day his brother Eamon
visited from Ireland for the first time. Looking at the lawn, overrun as
usual with dandelions, violets and other flowering weeds, Eamon said:
"Look at all the beautiful flowers!" Over the years Gerry's dad bought a
lawnmower just to keep the weeds at bay, but he never spent a dime on
lawn care. After all, he'd say, it's all green.

We felt differently: Shortly after we moved in, my husband set to work
helping the grass recover from decades of neglect. He spent countless
hours seeding, fertilizing, weeding and liming, and was richly rewarded.
By the second year, we had a strong green lawn.

Which makes this year's disaster so disheartening. After hour upon hour
of toiling to keep up our beautiful green lawn, all it took was one
unseasonably hot summer to ruin everything. With all the talk of climate
change -- and our own observations of the shifts in weather patterns in
our region -- Gerry wonders whether last year's freakishly warm, dry
spell is a sign of things to come. Should he spend another year laboring
over the lawn only to have it burn to a crisp again? I sensed that he's
beginning to concede that his father may have a point: Why fight nature?

But I'm not willing to lay down arms. I'm the one who has to stand at
the school bus stop -- conveniently located right on the corner of our
property -- with the neighborhood kids' parents. I'm sure they don't
appreciate the eyesore our lawn has become. And weeds beget more weeds,
which may migrate to their lawns.

I also feel we have a responsibility to tend to our property. I grew up
in an apartment in Jersey City, where grass was something that grew only
in parks. Lush green lawns were found in the suburbs, where people like
my aunt and uncle lived. On long summer visits, I'd watch my Uncle Al
meticulously care for his lawn and my cousins mow the grass as part of
their chores. I admired Al's hard work, and his house's thriving lawn.
Today, I view well-tended lawns as a sign that people take pride in
their homes.

Lately we've been receiving offers in the mail from lawn-care companies.
After reading through some of the marketing material, I asked Gerry
whether it would make sense for us to hire someone this year instead of
taking on the task ourselves.

One of the lowest offers we received was from a local lawn-care service.
Their free evaluation was ugly: dandelions, crab grass, white clover,
mouse-ear chickweed, onion grass  we've got it all. After an initial
charge of $148, we would pay an additional $51 a treatment (including
seeding, fertilizing and pest control) for seven treatments over the
course of a year, for a total of $505.

"Too expensive," said Gerry, shaking his head.
But is it really?
In early March I went to Lowe's with Gerry's lawn-care shopping list:
three bags of fertilizer, three bags of heat-resistant grass seed, a new
spreader to replace our broken one, and a gallon of spot weed killer.
Total cost: $303.50. The fertilizer alone came to $128. (Granted, we use
a premium brand.)

When I got home I showed Gerry my receipt and asked how he could claim a
lawn-care service is more expensive than doing it ourselves when I had
just dropped around $300 for the equivalent of two lawn treatments --
and could estimate that our future lawn-care efforts would cost us
around $250 more, bringing the total north of $550.

Gerry was floored -- and only then did it occur to me that our division
of household labor had skewed his understanding of what things cost. For
years, it's been my job to buy our lawn-care products, and Gerry's job
to take care of the lawn. Because of our "yours, mine and ours"
approach1 to finances, Gerry had no idea what I was spending on those

Last week, the lawn-care service representative called back with a
discount offer: We'd be charged $368 for the first year if we signed up
within the next 30 days, with the cost increasing to the regular price
next year. Since we'd already spent $303.50, that would boost our
overall cost this year to about $672. I asked if we could pay for just
the five remaining treatments this year, but the representative said the
service wouldn't do that, because it would invalidate its guarantee. If
we chose to stick with doing it ourselves this year, our total outlay
would be in the neighborhood of $550 for all four treatments -- about
$50 cheaper than the service's initial offer.

But in addition to our cash outlay, there's the value of Gerry's time to
consider. An hour a weekend spent weeding, seeding and fertilizing is
one less hour Gerry has to play catch with our son Gerald, who's excited
that his baseball league starts play this month.

After running through the numbers, Gerry agreed it might make financial
sense for us to pay for a service, and he admitted there are plenty of
other things he'd like to do with his time. Still, he couldn't see
paying extra for seven treatments when we'd already paid for the first
two. So we struck a deal: This year he's going to handle lawn care on
his own, but if the lawn doesn't recover, next year we'll consider going
with a service.

How valuable is your time? Does it pay to hire a service to handle
routine tasks such as errand-running, lawn care or house cleaning, even
though it costs less to do it yourself? Write to me at

Bonnie Zone 7/7 ETN

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