My Life with Grass Man

Opposites attract. A social butterfly meets a quiet, calm soul and well,  you know the rest of the story. So what happens, along the path of life, when one of you falls in love with all things green? At this point in the story, there are two ways it can go:  either your partner enjoys sunny days spent moving plants around in the garden, and this becomes something you do together, or the opposite — your partner thinks that you become a mud-spattered stranger each Spring.

When my husband and I married, I was working as a designer for a landscaping company, and I distinctly remember warning him that, one day, when children were grown, and work was less demanding, he would see a different side of me – a slightly obsessed home gardener. He didn’t believe me.

That gardener arrived several years later, when we downsized to a smaller home with a large expanse of lawn and a backyard bordered by mature pines.  It was a blank slate, full of possibilities, and after a year of thinking, relocating existing plant material, digging holes to check soil texture, and watching the patterns of sun and shade across the property, I slowly began the process of building a landscape from scratch. Back then, I knew that gardening was not something my beloved was interested in, and that was okay with me.

A few years have passed, and in that time I have come to a startling realization: I live with a man who loves grass.  Every weekend, no matter the season, his gaze is focused on the large expanse of Bermuda turf in our front yard. It reminds me of my corporate landscaping days, when I would often watch my co-workers grow misty-eyed while showing me an acre of perfectly maintained fescue. It isn’t that these people don’t like shrubs and flowers, they simply don’t notice them.

If I’m honest, my idea of the perfect lawn is a grassy meadow–as in full out British country meadow. I know this is unrealistic, and being a practical person, I don’t dwell on what I can’t have in the middle of Georgia on a suburban lot. I simply plant shrubs and flowers and ignore the lawn as much as I can.  

Is there a little crabgrass near the mailbox? Maybe. Did a hundred mimosa seedlings sprout in the side yard while we were away? Of course they did. This is the stuff that makes me yawn–and gives my husband agita.

Like most things in life, this is a situation which requires negotiation, and an appreciation of the other person’s point of view. I do see that my neighbors appreciate the fact that we maintain a decent looking lawn through the seasons, so I am thankful that my partner keeps an eye on the grass that I mostly ignore. I nudge him toward organic solutions, which is a challenge in the weedy South. If we disagree on a subject, we often agree to “google it”.

I try to appreciate the fact that my partner doesn’t really have an opinion about my gardening projects around our property. Our garden space, while attractive, could be categorized “under construction” while we wait for woody ornamentals and trees to grow and do their job of screening and providing structure. In the meantime, I experiment with combinations of flowering shrubs, perennials, annuals, vegetables, and bulbs, so that I can recommend them to customers, post photos on Instagram, and write about them. Thankfully, since my partner doesn’t typically notice what I’m up to, I have a great deal of freedom to design what I like. I’m not sure what it would be like to garden with a partner, who would certainly have their own unique ideas about what is beautiful.

These days grass man and I are doing just fine. I realize that, like many things in life, we see green growing things through our own lens. One man’s weed is another man’s treasure.

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