House Stuff

Dying Bermuda Grass

The dog days of summer

by Garage on 20 August, 2009

Let me start by saying “My poor lawn is dying a slow death”.

I have a living will and a power of attorney, and every legal document one can think of just in case the unforeseeable should happen.  I’m not the kind to dwell on sickness – but if I were to get in a head-on car crash, or stroke out, or develop some debilitating disease, My wife, my parents, the US legal system, and now you know that nobody should take drastic measures on me.  Yep, DNR me baby.  Most of my family is the same way – don’t keep us alive just because you can.  It’s about quality of life, not quantity.

But when it comes to the grass in my backyard, this is another story.  I’m doing everything possible to keep the green from turning brown.  Earlier, when we bought our house, some nice men came over in a Chevy pickup, tore up the back and put down fresh Bermuda Grass Sod.  But that was 9 weeks ago and now the Austin summer is taking it’s toll.

According to the newspaper we have had 59 straight days of 100°+ weather.  The levels in the lake are currently the 3rd lowest on record.  Even with the giant Oak and Ash (they are brother and sister trees) providing afternoon shade in the backyard I struggle to keep the disappearing green patches from vanishing altogether.

I keep the lawn mowed short, as is recommended.  I water deeply as everyone tells me to, and I even syringe the turf every night (syringing your grass is lightly spraying it down by hand to cool it  - this is not considered a watering by anyone who knows anything about lawns).

As if the heat weren’t enough, the City of Austin is imposing level 2 water restrictions because we might be  in some kind of draught.  This means that restaurants can’t serve water unless you ask for it.  You can’t hose down your driveway unless it’s to clean some biohazard off the cement, and homeowners can only water once a week.

C’mon now guys, you are tying my hands here!  How am I supposed to pursue drastic life support measures when you only give me one defibrillator paddle?  I spent hours leveling, adding amendments, and selecting the perfect turf for  my zone.   I dreamed of a putting green outside my deck.  Now what I’ve got is a decaying, brown carpet with mange.   I’d do a rain dance, but am afraid that my footsteps will do irreparable damage.

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Sadly, yes.

As I was on my way to Whole Foods this weekend to pick up some fresh veggies and a  ciabatta for dinner, I passed our local Smith & Hawken store.  On the side of the building was one of those “everything must go” signs offering 20-30% off.  At first I just thought it was for one of the framing stores, or electronic retailers in the shopping center, so I thought nothing of it.

Then, this morning as I was scanning my RSS feeds, I read this post on Garden Rant, which is written by  a team of 4 “highly opinionated gardeners” across the country.

Now, I’ve only shopped at this gardening store a handful of times.  In reality I’ve only made one purchase, a pineapple garden hose thingy that you stick in the ground to prevent your hose from dragging across your flower beds.

But I have many memories of the fancy garden retailer, starting about 15 years ago in Los Gatos, CA.  Back then, I was only dating my wife.  I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible, of course, and so I’d drive her up to get her hair done.  Of course I’d never hang around the salon – that’s private time prime, for ladies gossip.  Besides the hair color solutions used to give me headaches.

So to kill an hour, I’d walk up and down Santa Cruz Ave, and poke my head into the various stores.  Smith & Hawken was one of those stores.  I was lured in by the sounds of fountains, and  the smells of fresh gardenias.  Of course I lived in a 1-room apartment at the time and had zero room for gardening.  The apartment was even too small for container gardening.  Not that I could afford anything if I did have room.  I was putting myself through school working on my undergrad degree.

But the retailer did such a great job of establishing that feeling – the one that reminded me of my grandmother’s succulent garden on Pine Street.  It made me think that if I bought all this stuff, I too could re-capture those memories, or at least build a place to start my own.

Alas, now I have a budding garden of my own – within another year or so, I’ll be able to just walk out my back door to regain some of those feelings.

You can read the entire press release announcing the closing of Smith & Hawken.  Of course I always get my plants from the local garden stores in Austin – places like Red Barn Garden Center up off 183, but sometimes it’s hard to find some items – stuff like Japanese Garden tools. Oh, well, I guess there’s always Amazon…

Smith & Hawken to shut down because of weak economy

Smith & Hawken to shut down because of weak economy

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Post image for 4th of July in Balcones Woods

4th of July in Balcones Woods

by Eric Hegwer on 4 July, 2009

When we moved into the BW neighborhood, all our neighbors told us there are two really great things that happen here – the pool is the place to meet new people (I can’t wait until it opens for the summer after the extensive remodel), and that the 4th of July parade is something that can’t be missed.

So, as today is the 4th, and I don’t have any patriotic weddings today, I headed out my front door  at about 20 minutes to nine to see what’s what.  As I wandered down the parade route, I got to meet a bunch of my new neighbors (all very friendly of course).

Was I surprised!  When I got to the community center and saw all those decorated bikes, wagons, and dogs?  You bet I was.  What was even more shocking were the people lining the curb with their lawn chairs and American Flags.  It was just like the parades I knew as a kid, growing up in Salinas.

What was even more surprising was to learn that my house is on the actual parade route (Community Center, up Alhambra, Left onto Santa Cruz, and then another left down Balcones Woods Drive).  Thanks to all the police officers who closed the streets, and kept the route safe for all the kids.  It’s really appreciated.  Next year, our house will be the one with the biggest party :)

Anyway, here are some of my favorite shots.  The rest can be found in the complete BW 4th of July gallery.  The password is BW (all caps).  Feel free to download a free copy for yourself (If you use it on the web, please just link back to my site.)  If you want a print, I have to charge a bit more for my time. I hope you understand. If I had known this was such a big deal, I would have brought more equipment, and taken more shots!  Happy 4th of July!

Fireworks are one of the best parts of the 4th of July

Fireworks are one of the best parts of the 4th of July

Pictures of the 4th of July parade in Balcones Woods

Pictures of the 4th of July parade in Balcones Woods

This may be the safest 4th of july parade in the world.

This may be the safest 4th of july parade in the world.

Wagons were decorated with flags...

Wagons were decorated with flags...

Bicycles had all kinds of decorations for the 4th, too

Bicycles had all kinds of decorations for the 4th, too

Even the cars at the end of the parade had decorations...

Even the cars at the end of the parade had decorations...

The rest of the photos can be found in the complete BW 4th of July gallery. The password is BW (all caps).

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