10 Reasons Why Yard Work Is Not Your Friend

1. Getting the lawn mower out of the shed

  Once upon a time, we thought it would be really cute to convert the garage into another den, because we had too much furniture in the rest of the house. (I have an inability to consider where I’m going to put something before I buy it.) Long story short, we bought two large sheds for the back yard, thinking this would be more than enough storage room to accommodate the non-car items that would normally live in the garage that no longer was.

  We were sadly mistaken with this line of thought.

  It started out okay, as most things do. I built shelves out there, purchased handy bins of varying sizes, and had everything so organized and efficient that I thought about entering myself in some type of competition, resulting in me appearing in a magazine spread, posing smartly next to a rack of perfectly-wound extension cords.

  This amazing planning and tidiness lasted approximately three days. Then things went to hell.

  When you have sheds that nobody else enters (unlike your house where you have to make sure there’s no unsightly underwear hanging from the ceiling fans), it becomes very easy to adopt an attitude of “just throw whatever it is through the door and you can put it back in the right place later”.

  But later never comes. Before you know it, you have startling mounds of crap piled everywhere. And the one thing that you currently need for whatever task you’re doing, such as a lawnmower, ends up buried under a mountain of bulky items that are difficult to move. How did this happen? I don’t remember making this mess. Perhaps evil neighbors are sneaking into the sheds after midnight, wreaking havoc and stacking things in a dangerous, unsteady manner. Maybe it’s a cult thing.

  So there you are in the shed, tugging and pulling and shoving and ripping, groaning in the unnatural mayhem, sweat pouring down your back as you swear you will never let things get this bad again. (Your resolve, of course, immediately evaporates as soon as you finally rescue whatever you need. When you return later with that item, you will simply throw it on top of the shortest pile and slam the door.)

2. Mowing

  This is devil’s work. It’s one thing when you have a riding lawnmower, making it basically like driving a car except the roads are smaller and there are more turns. But when your yard isn’t quite big enough to justify a riding mower, you end up with the push kind, and your sanity is tested as you shove the thing back and forth across the lawn, muscles straining as the roaring motor belches exhaust in your face.

  Along the same lines, a push mower is not so bad when it’s a crisp Spring morning where you barely break a sweat. But this is Texas. We only have crisp mornings roughly twice a year. The rest of the time, streets are buckling from the heat by 9am. This means that sweat is pouring off of you in waves, blinding you with a salty, burning wetness that causes you to unknowingly wander into the street and get hit by a UPS truck delivering a fruit-of-the-month to your creepy neighbor with the bad dye job.

  So how do I deal with this in a logical and cost-effective manner? I keep buying new lawnmowers, bigger and better ones with the latest technology. (The newest feature I had to have? A push mower that starts with a key. Because having to pull that ripcord is so two-thousand and late.) Apparently I’m operating under the impression that if I keep buying new models, I will eventually find one that mows the entire lawn for me while I sit in the air-conditioned house, using the XBOX 360 controller to send directions.

3. Emptying the grass catcher.

  Picture this: There I am, carefully inserting the plastic trash bag into the over-sized Rubbermaid barrel that I use for the grass clippings. I meticulously stretch and tuck the opening of the bag around the rim of the barrel so it will stay open while I dump things into it. I disengage the grass catcher from the lawnmower, grunt and hoist the contraption over the barrel, and very cautiously tilt the catcher so I can control the flow and force of the debris.

  Three tiny blades of grass trickle out and plink to the bottom of the trash sack, light as a feather. Yet somehow, due to some metaphysical concept that I do not understand, this is just enough pressure to cause the trash bag to rip loose from the top of the barrel. The bag becomes a shiny puddle at the bottom of the barrel, right as the remaining two tons of grass in the catcher break free and thunder into the barrel, burying the plastic bag. I now have to start over.

  This makes me completely insane.

  Oh, and if the bag does manage to stay in place, there’s still that business with dust and bits of grass billowing out of the barrel, instantly coating my sweat-drenched skin with enough breading that they might as well throw my ass in a deep fryer and serve me with hush puppies.

4. Trimming

  Due to some inexplicable deficiency, I am unable to trim the edges of the lawn (sidewalks, curbs) using any of the available mechanical devices that are in my budget. I refuse to buy a “real” professional edger, because those things are so expensive it would destroy me spiritually to buy one and then prove an inadequate operator. (Yet I’ll buy every season of “The X Files” on Blu-Ray without even looking at the price. I obviously have some issues when it comes to the functional worth of things.)

  I’ve tried using various flavors of the moderately-priced “weed-eater”, like that pole thing with the deadly, spinning nylon cord or the attachment for the side of your lawnmower that looks suspiciously like a bone-saw used by serial killers. I just don’t have the talent for these things. My efforts never look very good, with ragged edges and entire patches of ground annihilated. (Not to mention the inevitable weed-eating of my own shins, despite my best intentions, leaving bloody welts on my legs as if my shoelaces have risen up and sought my death in the name of some random footwear revolution.)

  So I usually end up doing the trimming by hand, using some manual clippers that can cut through, at best, two blades of grass at a time. It takes me four months to make it around the yard once, but at least it’s pretty and precise for thirty minutes or so. Then again, with all that repetitive scissor action, I am no longer able to fully extend the fingers on my right hand.

5. Raking up leaves.

  I have already done an entire blog post about this heinous and despicable act. Suffice it to say that we have five billion trees in our yard. The leaves never stop falling, no matter what time of year it might be. I could rake every day and it wouldn’t matter. So I just let them pile up until I get a notice from the city. Then I move.

6. Cleaning out the gutters.

  Help me understand how, within mere weeks, enough dirt builds up in the gutters that small forests can grow? Annoying forests, with mean little trees that have grappling roots that will not let go, as if bolted to the core of the Earth. I just don’t get it.

7. Carrying bags to the curb.

  We have curb-side pickup once a month, for “bulky trash”, a phrase with an elusive definition, based on the shocking things that some people will chunk into their front yard. (There’s nothing like driving down the street and seeing archaic toilets, mattresses with alarming stains, and questionable boxes that just might be dripping blood, sprawled across neighboring yards.) I will confess to dragging a stove or two out there, but mostly it’s just lawn-maintenance detritus.

  Trouble is, you can only put these things out during the week of the scheduled pickup. Otherwise, bitter men in official white cars will hand you tickets. Obviously, you have to mow multiple times between pickups, so our monthly contribution to the “Bulky Trash Festivities” grows considerably as the pile festers in the back yard.

  And I do mean fester. While the pile consumes acreage, awaiting Judgment Day, the heavens regularly open up and bless us with torrents of purifying rain. This delightful rain manages to seep into the bags of clippings and leaves (no matter how artfully you arrange them), marinates for a bit, and then bakes in the fetid heat. This creates monstrous bags of thick porridge, each of them now weighing two hundred pounds.

  Bags which then have to be carried to the front curb. An activity that terrifies my soul.

  As the horrible Transport Day approaches, there are discussions in our house over who is going to move that mess this time, conversations that often end in the phrases “divorce” and/or “never speaking to you again” being flung about. Eventually, one or both of us will find ourselves doing the endless March of Degradation, lugging squelching bags of concrete down the driveway, wiping back tears and sweat and dignity.

8. Jasmine

  Because of the trees, there are sections of the yard which sunlight has not touched since I moved in. The only thing that will grow here is jasmine, because that stuff claims its territory with a vengeance, so plant away we did. The only real maintenance here is trimming up the tendrils that grow over the defined borders.

  So there I am with the manual clippers once again, crawling on my knees and snipping. And I just have one question. What the hell is that white stuff that oozes out of the severed jasmine stems, coating your hands with a powerful adhesive that results in skin being left on doorknobs? Why did nobody warn me about this and why is it not being regulated in some way?

9. Ants

  They are everywhere, no matter what you do or who you pay. You cannot escape them, these tiny minions of Satan who can send a grown man into hysterical fits of screaming and reflexive dancing just by gathering in military units and then marching across exposed flesh. And when they send out that synchronized signal to bite at the exact same time? This is proof that there truly is pure evil loose in the world.

10. Watering.

  Finally, the one activity that I actually enjoy. Mainly because I’m the thing being watered, most of the time. Sure, I’ll attend to the parched plants and the thirsty bushes, splash the grass for a bit, but it’s really all about me, as the majority of the time the nozzle is pointed directly at my wretched existence, drenching myself in glorious spurts. After hours of sweaty, dirty toiling, trying to make the yard presentable for people who are only going to drive by without even glancing our direction, there’s nothing like sluicing away the pain with icy coldness on a hot summer day. It’s far better than sex could ever hope to be.

Previously published. Minimally revised for this current post. I should point out that I’ve had a lawn service for several years, so I’m no longer rewarding myself with borderline-erotic gushes of soothing agua on the front lawn, but the pain still lingers…

60 replies »

  1. True humiliation? Explaining to your house sitter that they cannot put their car into the garage-shaped structure that actually holds the Taub Memorial Lawn Mower collection—six at last count and all in pristine condition because the Hub keeps buying new ones that promise to make lawn mowage a thing of fun and zen-like serenity. (I keep trying to explain that the only thing that will do that is a lawn service, but he’s not listening because he’s watching a video about a robot mower. )

    Liked by 2 people

    • We have a similar structure, although this one is called “the shed out back”, so most visitors or sitters are not interested in what might be in said shed. But I can confirm that there are at least three perfectly-fine lawn mowers in there, along with an astounding array of related grounds-keeping implements that have not seen the light of day since I finally caved and got a service years ago. It would not surprise me to learn that the remains of Amelia Earhart’s plane are in there as well, as we mostly avoid said shed and simply carry on…


  2. Luckily we can cut out most of these. We got rid of the grass and the lawn mower 21 years ago. The city mows the park that is across the street from the house. And we covered the gutters with leaf guards. Woo hoo! But you have our sympathy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • To be fair, this whole post is kind of a moot point, as we’ve had a service for years. But the pain lingers, and I have occasional flashbacks now and then. What’s not lingering? Our gutters. We had a technician out to assess replacement costs, also years ago, as they were rusty and dented and losing their grip. He explained that we didn’t really need them, what with configuration of our odd-shaped roof naturally throwing the water away from The Manor. So we ripped them down. No more tiny trees to deal with… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Are we related? But no, somewhat seriously from here in NC. I have a huge yard, but grass will only grow in one small sunlit for an hour area of space. The rest is filled with various types of flora and fauna that unless it grows high enough to hide reptiles I let grow. At least there is green and not the blank dirt that is my front yard thanks to my seven million Oak trees and two dogs who think life is meant to be taken at 400 miles per hour barking all the while at……..everything, anything, nothing. But all that running means no lawn and even pounds the leaves into the ground. Mowers?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t Mother Nature rather contrary? Everyone is envious of the many massive trees in our front yard when they first arrive, but then they spy the barren wasteland caused by those dang trees. Nothing can grow on the ground because the sun hasn’t reached it in 700 years. Except for jasmine, and the jasmine is vicious in its attempt at world domination, leaking that weird, white milky stuff and laughing evilly as everything else withers….


    • Wouldn’t that be nice? Some lovely horticultural efforts wherein no one gets more than a smidge dirty and yet things look fabulous, like a scene from a Louisa May Alcott book involving potential paramours chastely holding hands whilst seated on a cleverly-placed bench, surveying the beauty of a bugless garden… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Haha. This is one of many reasons why I just enjoy your posts. Truth and laughs. My husband enjoys them to. Brian, this particular one, I can relate.
    Stay Safe&Smart

    Liked by 2 people

    • Outside work can actually be a pleasant and satisfying experience in Texas. On the three days a year when the temperature is not 146F. On the other 362 days, it’s quite obvious that I’m being punished for wretched malfeasances I apparently committed in past lives…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Previous commentors have covered the bases. And you’ve said yourself that ‘lawn service” is the key to zen-like ‘enjoyment’ of yard work. I sit in my condominium twin home and watch young people zoom around on huge riding mowers, and others scurrying about edging everything, and I am at total peace. Ziggy, on the other hand, is not. He regards these incursions into the sanctity of HIS yard with deep suspicion. Therefore a lot of yapping, snarling and drooling on my glassed-in screen door occurs. If I shut the door so he can’t ‘see’ the yard workers, he comes and jumps on me to procure himself a ringside seat to the festivities. Then I’m the one covered in dog slaver as he pretends to be Cujo and defends the homestead from all comers. I’m responsible for approximately 3 feet all around my half house. I’m a lame little bunny, so the weeds and whatever unsightly plants don’t feel welcome elsewhere and who come to stay, thrive. I’m not paying TWICE for yard work. I’m crazy, but not that far gone. Yet. If jasmine would thrive in this climate, I’d be out there buying up a truckload and getting some young person with too much time to come plant it and I’d let it rip. But alas. Jasmine is too fragile (apparently) for the icy winters up here. Sunflowers would do nicely too, but none have come to plant a toe in my wasteland. I’ll have to remedy that this year. The last remark is my opinion that icy revels under a yard hose are never out of style. I’d do mine al fresco too IF I didn’t have house neighbors and religious types that would show up the second I removed clothing. Sitting under a fine mist of water in the hot sunshine of a July or August day is incomparable, and is better than sex. No sweatiness.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The decision to FINALLY hire a lawn service after many years of thinking about such (my mindset, for the longest time, just didn’t sit well with such an avenue, even though I could afford it) has proven to be a remarkably sane decision. The only downside (and this will sound odd, considering my rant above) is that I was apparently getting some byproduct health benefits out of personally tending to my lawn. Whilst I was still doing the deeds myself, I stayed the same weight throughout my servitude. Now that I’m no longer sweating my ass off for 10 hours or so every weekend, the poundage has not gone in my favor, climbing ever upwards.

      Along with Ziggy, Cleo the Cat is not impressed with the weekly invasion of “humans who do not live here”, despite this regular ritual having gone on for several years now. She still loses her mind every time.

      Too bad about the jasmine and sunflowers not being conducive to Utah. Both are joyful and hardy things here, even if I still have a great mistrust for the jasmine’s odd milky adhesive.

      And yes, I miss those finally-done moments after the yardwork wherein I would douse myself with the garden hose. There was something so cleansing (and, admittedly, erotic) about such a release…


  6. Xeriscaping and a yard maintenance company. At my last house, I employed both and never looked back, including into my lawn shed, because I work in sub-arctic Canada. We need to use our garages for keeping the vehicles defrosted, storing the winter and summer tires as well as litres of antifreeze, jumper cables, extra batteries, plug-in cords, winter survival bins, tow ropes, collapsible shovels and bags of salt. Come to think of it, upon my retirement and return to the temperate Okanagan Valley, I’m looking forward to just dealing with some weeds and grass. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s an awe-inspiring list of things for one to keep in one’s garage. When we still HAD a garage, it was mostly filled with random crap that we should have just set free but we didn’t have the heart to do so. (The lawn-tending devices only took up one small corner, and there wasn’t a bag of salt anywhere to be seen.) Now? All of the random crap is in the two sheds behind the house. (We still have separation anxiety, apparently.) Is it a fair assessment to say that I probably would not do well in sub-arctic Canada?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Weeds and aggressive grass and other plants have NOTHING on ice and snow and sub-arctic temperatures. It takes a lot of stuff to properly combat all of the above. I chose my house with an eye to a big garage where my car would reside at all times of the year. I’m not up for scraping ice or snow off of a vehicle anymore, but it’s as bad in the summer (if one has a dark blue vehicle) when the temperatures are 100+ and one can get third-degree burns theoretically just from touching the door handle. No, garages are for cars. And the detritus of impulse buying of odd bits of yard ornamentation (I have a ceramic frog, a turtle, an angel reading a book, two quail, a welcome sign with three lab puppies holding it up, and seasonal decorations that have ‘hogged’ about half the garage space. Baby just fits in there though.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Speaking of detritus, how about the caches of holiday decorations and whatnot? I’ve always gone overboard with the Yuletide revelry (have you heard word about a tiny little thing called “The Christmas Village at Bonnywood”?), and for the longest time both of us were obsessed with stockpiling Halloween paraphernalia. I’ve probably whined about this before, but both of our attics (yes, we have two, as somebody at some point made a wise decision about storage capacity at The Manor) are crammed full of things that are only useful once a year. We seriously have enough Christmas lights alone to light the stadium at BYU….

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have experienced both scenarios many times (scorching bloody hot – southern Okanagan, and freezing bloody cold – Northwest Territories), so I agree. Cars belong in garages. And you’re right, weeds and grass have nothing on the winter we just had. Can you believe that the snow it still melting? That’s how much of it we had. Unbelievable, even for here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • yes, there is a laundry list of such annoyances. But I think I’d feel kind of guilty if I had someone cut my grass, since I remember telling myself way back when that as long as I am able to, I will always cut my grass. I wish I had known better back then not to make such foolish statements…

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I have a doctor’s note excusing me from yard work.

    And why doesn’t your trash service offer a green bin? I mean, I realize it’s Texas, but you live in the city. Please tell me you at least have a recycle bin😱

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, we have a recycling bin. (At least here in Dallas. When you get out into the other areas of Texas, they still believe the Earth is flat, so they don’t take a fancy to that recylcin’ socialism.) In fact, we have two, as I ordered an extra one since we recycle everything we can. But our bins are blue. And here’s a link to a post where (if you scroll enough) I share a snap of one of the two…

      Almost Wordless Wednesday – #18

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The times I’ve sat sulking on the wooden bench by the counter of the garden centre, waiting for my sweet pea to to select and buy the latest thorny rose. (Another one I’ll get to bloody well plant.) Eventually I’ll stop sighing, drumming my fingers and rolling my eyes and then those eyes will alight on a gleaming magazine rack. This rack, handily and strategically placed at the check-out invariably displays a smiling Martha Stewart lookalike wearing a stylish (rakish?) gardening hat, unspoilt unsoiled gardening gloves, sunnily beaming from the latest cover of ‘Gnome And Garden’. Oh, how I want to pitch a fork into that smug, glowing face (no, not a sweat-stained face, since the model lady never does.) Because, believe me, It’s not like that in the all too real stinky dirty grubby world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Talking about things strategically placed at the checkout to entice and entrap. “Can I have this lolly mummy?” “and this one?” “and this one too?”……..why didn’t I go through the self-checkout?

      Where do I subscribe to ‘Gnome and Garden’ ? for tips on gardening without getting dirty? ……

      Liked by 2 people

    • obbverse: I fear that I am the Sweet Pea in your story, which may disgruntle you, although I at least do my own planting. But I do agree with your possible resorting to a strategically-placed pitch fork when it comes to Unsweaty Martha. That girl ain’t never go her hands dirty, no she ain’t…

      Don: I can’t save you from lolly-demanding urchins, but I can say that the best way to stay clean in the garden is to let somebody else venture into said garden. Otherwise, the scent of moldy mulch will stain you forever…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I can relate so much, gardening is a real chore! Sheds are somewhat of a sore topic for us, we took ours down a couple of years ago, as it was a relic from the previous owner, who bolted it to the neighbour’s house, and when it snowed water leaked into the neighbour’s kitchen. Neither of us have the will to replace it, so whenever we want to mow the back garden we have to drag the mower out of the garage and through the house. Obviously that’s too much effort, so it doesn’t happen often! Thankfully the birds clean our gutters for us, else it’d never get done 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sheds can be a bit tricky here in Dallas as well, since there are regulations about where you can put them and how big they might be. (Bolting one to a neighbor’s house? Yep, there would be some official frowning and a borderline-ugly notification in the post.) At least our two sheds have been placed in relatively-innocuous locales (no bolting, at least not that I remember), and they are a lovely shade of pseudo-green that almost matches the flora and fauna, but not quite.

      Please tell me more about these gutter-cleaning birds, as that sounds wonderful. Do you have a few to spare? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m pretty sure bolting stuff to your neighbour’s house is frowned upon here too, but the guy who owned this place before us was king of the bodge job and didn’t seem to care what anyone thought! Your sheds sound like they blend in perfectly 🙂

        The birds are awesome, I wake up with giant chunks of moss on the decking every spring, that they’ve thrown from the gutter. We live near a small open field though, and I think the birds living there enjoy raiding gutters for nesting material. Feeding them tends to bribe them well to stick around and do chores!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. “I will eventually find one that mows the entire lawn for me while I sit in the air-conditioned house.” That’s so desirable. With all the hype of artificial intelligence and drones, one would imagine mowing lawns can be done by robots, but no. It still requires muscle power.
    “a UPS truck delivering a fruit-of-the-month to your creepy neighbor with the bad dye job.” LOL. That’s so funny. I don’t even know such a thing exist–fruit-of-the-month club, but google says yes. I wonder who would do this? Probably your creepy neighbor can explain… I heard that in NYC, the regular delivery of pet food service is booming, which make sense since it takes a lot of energy to carry the big bags up the stairs of the tenement buildings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll say this: We’ve put men on the moon and we’re working our way towards putting men (and hopefully women!) on Mars. Surely, with all that technology, we can invent things that negate our need to ever do physical labor, of any kind, ever again.

      I actually was the recipient, one year, of a monthly fruit selection delivered to my door. (One of my relatives apparently felt I needed such.) It was rather nice, getting to sample hand-picked (machine-picked?) examples of yumminess, and I enjoyed it. But I would never pay good money for that. I’d much rather spend that money at the local Farmer’s Market…

      Liked by 1 person

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