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Suburban Lawn Care Dance: a Perfect 10

 

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By Paula Ganzi Licata

I love coming home to our lawn on Fridays. Like wall-to-wall carpeting with fresh vacuum marks, the grass is streaked with mower tracks, the edging perfectly cropped, the flower beds raked, extraneous leaves and twigs blown off the Disney-perfect property. It’s a Power Lawn – golf-course green and so flawless we could host the Masters Tournament.

But there wasn’t always splendor in our grass. Our first year in the house we kept the previous homeowner’s landscaping service, not wanting to trigger separation anxiety in our newly purchased flora. But our lackluster lawn failed to excite the kind of suburban bliss we’d anticipated when we traded in apartment living for homeowner status. We began interviewing landscapers.

Enter Lawn Man. He arrives European time – whenever he gets there – in a discreetly dilapidated vehicle. With cigarette in hand, he looks disapprovingly at your property and proceeds to stamp out his Marlboro in your grass.

“The squirrels are eating my tulips,” I explained to Vinny. I was anticipating an Old World remedy like sprinkling an herb in my flower beds. Instead, he took a drag of his cigarette, held between forefinger and thumb, and on the exhale made me an offer I couldn’t excuse: “Get the BB gun.”

Each season a new crop of landscapers attempted to resuscitate our lawn. Al, with the green thumbs-up logo, couldn’t eliminate bald spots (and you can’t do a comb-over with cut grass), and Mike’s crew not only broke flower pots but dinged our cars in the driveway. Finally we found Marco.

Occasionally I’m home when Marco’s three-man team attacks our turf. I never hear the trucks pull up or the workers unload the equipment. Calm quiet suddenly erupts in a cacophony of high-decibel mower buzz, a single-note scream ascending in a ferocious frenzy. The workmen wield heavy machinery, hanging off handles for balance as they turn corners like dance partners in a ballroom. The mowers are leading.

One worker waltzes down the hill, pulling back on the mower as the sloping property pulls man and machine toward the street. Another grabs the edger and begins cutting up the floor, sparks flying when it scrapes the concrete.

A third note sounds. The leaf blower is worn tight to the torso, like a jitterbug partner who won’t let go. Donning earphones, this workman follows in the footsteps of the mowerman, blowing disobedient bits of bark and twigs off the property. The dance is over in minutes.

Convenience comes with a price – less than a year’s worth of LIPA bills, more than cable. But it’s worth it, guaranteeing a manicured lawn all season long, worry-free vacations and spur-of-the-moment party-planning.

Plus, I’m assured a perfect backdrop for my flowers: the bushy blue hydrangeas are showcased against neatly trimmed forsythia hedges; colorful borders of cheerful impatiens follow the crisp curve of the flower beds, like earthbound rainbows arcing through the grass.

And every homeowner knows the grass is always greener when someone else mows it.

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