Lawns and Manliness

What says more about one’s manliness than the perfect lawn?  The clean lines, the controlled height, the absence of  offending weeds.  Lawn exemplifies, it might be said, man’s pursuit of the domination of nature.   After all, you walk on it.  And then there is lawn as backdrop for macho sports such as baseball, football . . . possibly soccer.  Further, a well-maintained lawn implies a sort of technological expertise with its edgers, mowers, weed-wackers–all of them dangerous, gas-powered, and noisy.

Where is the lord of this manor?

This all came to my attention recently when I met Sylvia Kellogg at her new listing  9135 Spice Street in the Mount Helix area.  It wasn’t that this home had a lawn–it is set off by gravel–but what Sylvia told me about her experience in Indian Wells, a place from which she recently moved:

“They would tear up all the grass in October and plant new grass,” Sylvia said.  I was a little surprised to hear this, and she added some more explanation.  “The grass that grows in the summer–it can get up to 118° F you know–can’t survive in the winter when everything freezes.  And then they tear it all up again in the Spring and put the summer grass back.”

Lawn in Indian Wells, a place nature never intended it to be.  The trick for conquering Mother Nature, it turns out,  is to alternate two grass species instead of just one.  But this is such a Herculean effort that even the government has stepped in (no pun intended) .  Ordinance number 628 orders landscapers to reduce their watering in the fall to kill off the Bermuda grass that was lovely all summer, mow it down as close as possible to the soil, over-seed with winter rye, and start watering again.  In the Spring, when it gets too hot for winter rye, they are expected to do the reverse.

Beyond this, the government leaves landscapers and garden warriors up to their own devices when it comes to managing the intruders this situation naturally encourages.  I refer here to dandelions, clover, nut sedge–weeds–to which the soil is vulnerable when most of the grass is removed.  Like a military campaign, killing weeds requires know-how, timing, application of herbicide,  and measured effect all carefully strategized and executed, all of them satisfyingly macho activities.

Sylvia and I wandered over from the kitchen window and looked at the Jacaranda and an ornamental deciduous tree.  The shadows were moving across the gravel, making interesting patterns.  “You know, the gravel looks pretty good,”  I commented.  “And relaxing.”  Sylvia agreed with me.

You can reach Sylvia to discuss the listing at 858-444-5712.  Or go to her website at

Gravel with shadows