Green Thumb

One of the things I take a lot of pride in is the appearance of our yard. While the one-eighth acre lot is not exactly a botanical garden, it means a lot to me that it’s always green and clean. While my 16-year-old son and I do the mowing and pruning, we turn over chemical applications to a pro. That’s why I think we have one of the nicest lawns in our neighborhood. Or at least we did for a dozen years.

Last September I noticed a small corner of our front yard was browning in a two-foot wide area. Within a week, it had spread wider, so we called ‘Fertilizer Man.’ (After all these years we still don’t know his name. He just shows up unannounced, does his thing and leaves a preprinted invoice. Then we send a check to his office.) He applied a special treatment to the St. Augustine and said we should be fine with new growth in the spring.

Unfortunately, when the grass turned green six weeks ago, the now 10-foot triangular patch failed to arrive as planned. Add the worst drought in these parts in decades and my pride and joy is looking poor and neglected.

Yesterday, FM returned for his quarterly application. I went out to ask for advice, and the first thing he said was, “I am embarrassed and confused about this. I apologize for not knowing what to do. It has me completely baffled.” He suggested we rake the area clean, replant two trays of plugs, add Leaf Mold Compost – ‘the most magical dirt you’ll ever find’ – and nurture the lawn back to health.

It was great to experience a person who takes so much pride in his work that he apologized and felt the need to admit his lack of understanding. Here’s a guy who spends every day in the hot Texas sun fertilizing yards for people he neither knows nor sees, and yet he treats each lawn as an artist views his canvas. Those are attributes to which every professional should aspire.


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