You might be surprised to learn that I have a green thumb. Now I know what most of my friends think; that I sit in my office all day and watch movies or go lallygag around rehearsals while my poor, saddled wife cries at home while making lasagna for eight kids. Well, you're only partially right! I have five kids. But I am also quite helpful around the house if you mean, literally, around the house. Outside of it. Because I am happy to clean kitchens and bathrooms and parlors (who has a parlor? I just liked the sound of it) but I am even more happy to work outside in the yard like a man! A man who loves to plant perennials and make seasonal color choices.
I have learned a lot of things as a lawn owner, and I would love to share them with you. First of all, don't give up on your lawn, and never forsake your landscaping! You may actually find that you enjoy working outside. It's really a great time to process your life and give yourself a little intervention. I can't tell you how many major life choices I've made while clipping back bushes. People complain about landscaping, but it's therapeutic! Unless it's really hot outside. Then, hoo-boy! Have fun.
Here are a few things to remember:
1. If you live in Utah, you live in the desert. Nothing from the beach will grow here. Nothing from the South. Nothing from Europe. Find plants that are native to Utah. I suggest the following: lavender, bishop's weed, day lilies, jupiter's beard, yarrow, and Russian sage. Give them some sun and water and let 'em rip!
2. Roses are overrated. You get two weeks of really nice blooms, and then 11 months of sticks with sharp pointy bits that attack your children. Say no to roses.
3. Say no, also, to Petunias. I get that they add immediate color and will live through an apocalypse, but they are the ultimate in old lady flowers. My sister Lucy put a bunch of them in her yard one year and I told her that the real name for Petunias is "I give ups." It hurt Lucy's feelings, but I think she really learned a lesson that day. Go ahead and plant Petunias if you want, and I'll see you at Sizzler and Bingo tonight!
4. You have to fertilize your lawn. You can't just do it once. You need to do it 3-4 times per season. If you are rich (like me) you can have someone just come over and spray it. But if you are poor you can just go to Lowe's and buy a big bag of fertilizer and DIY (as we say in the landscaping biz.)
5. If you are just starting to landscape, you need to know that PERENNIALS are plants that grow year after year and ANNUALS are plants that only grow once per season. Many a sad tale has been told of homeowners buying annuals and then sadly waiting and hoping for them to return. They won't! They are dead. But if you see a rainbow in the sky, that's your annuals saying hello from heaven.
6. When buying plants, bear in mind that they bloom at different times. So if it's May, and there are poppies everywhere, don't go buy a bunch of poppies, because they are done by June. By a few. Then in June, check what's in bloom and buy a few more plants. Then July. Then August. Just kidding! Nothing grows in August because it's a horrible month. Anyway, this strategy will help you keep color in your garden all summer round.
7. You know what grows really well without a lot of fuss? Grass. So try ornamental grasses. They are cheap and they grow like monkeys! Literally like monkeys. They can grow in the shade and will fill in unsightly corners and awkward nooks. Come on, we all have a few awkward nooks!
8. Quit being afraid of spiders! They won't hurt you. You don't have to pick them up, but you don't have to scream at them or kill them. Unless they have a red hourglass shape on their tummies, in which case you should RUN RUN RUN RUN and move to a new house.
9. Xeriscaping is all the rage in Utah; and it should be. It looks great! Though I don't like when people xeriscape their whole lawn instead of doing any grass. Usually it just looks junky. The idea of xeriscaping is that you are using plants with low water tolerance. Perfect for our climate. But BEWARE: even xeriscape plants need to be heavily watered the first year. You can't just plop them in and feel all awesome about yourself and the environment. They need love.
10. Just have fun! Isn't that how lists like this always end? Just have fun!