Friends, neighbours, and even passing-by pedestrians, like to say: You have a beautiful yard. Do you have a professional lawn service? Yes, we do, and we have a good one. But it takes more than mowing and fertilizing grass to make the yard look sharp. It takes regular maintenance to keep the yard clean, the grass homogeneous and bushes and trees well shaped, such as picking up liters/blown trashes, killing fire ants, pulling die hard weeds, trimming bushes and trees.
On a sunny Sunday morning, the street was quiet, the sky was blue, trees gently swung in the breeze. I sat on a small stool in the yard, baseball cap on head, combing through the lawn square feet by square feet to pull the weeds and invasive grasses. I was by myself in the yard, but I was not alone. The birds were chirping around me, piano music Nicholas played flew into my ears from the house. The countryside like tranquility was occasionally interrupted by passing cars. I stopped after a while, drank water, appreciated the homogeneity of the treated area, and looked for weeds to pull next - it was not easy to find them sometimes. This cycle went on for a couple of hours before I was done for the day.
I like to walk around the yard after dinner or when I come home from weekend morning exercise, any time I see weeds, invading grasses, I pull them. Another thing I look for is ant mounds. Ant mounds are treated promptly to prevent it from damaging the lawn. Another benefit of treating ant mounds is to eliminate their potential invasion of our house.
An important part of the yard is bushes and trees - which need attentions as well but at much lower frequency - once a month or two months. Trimming bushes and trees is all my work. Regularly trimmed bushes grow better - they are greener, denser and in good shape. People usually don't trim big trees. I trim and thin trees for several reasons. The main reason to thin big trees is that thinned trees take less force from strong wind and thus less likely to crack during thunder storms and tornadoes. The reason to trim the trees is to prevent tree branches stretching too close to the house - less clogging of gutter. I am told that roots can only grow in the areas covered by the tree canopy - so a potential added benefit is to protect the foundation of the house.
Several years ago we hired a tree professional service to thin our three big trees. Afterwards we do the work ourselves. It is hard work and takes the whole family as a team to complete it. I use a pole pruner and 7 feet ladder for the pruning and trimming. Occasionally I have to climb the biggest tree to prune the tallest branches. It takes me half day to lightly prune and trim one tree - which leads to a big pile of tree branches. The rest of the family will help me to pull the branches to the drive way at the back of the house, and Justin will then cut/saw the branches into length required by the city for composite collection.
A few Sundays ago, Lily and I were pruning the big tree at the west side of the house, a neighbour walking her dog, passed by. She told us: " I love walking by your yard. " Another time, when I was working in the yard, a car in the street slowed down, the driver smiled at me and gave me a thumb up! Our lawn contractor told us that people called him specifically asking if his company worked at our address - our yard is a model yard for him. It was gratifying to hear compliments like these.
The better the lawn gets, the less work is needed from us to maintain it. The key is sustained maintenance. The sustainability comes internally - we work in the yard for our own enjoyment, not the compliments, not the comparison with neighbours. It also relies on patience, we do not try to finish everything for the season in a day or two - we work on it little by little, and enjoy every small progress we made.