Sunday, September 03, 2006
This Labor Day weekend I'm still digging up the grass in my front yard. The intention is to replace what used to pass for lawn with bark and flagstones, a few plantings, a park bench, and a bird bath. In more ambitious moments I even think about building a goldfish pond.
The dream is to someday have an outdoor sanctuary, a courtyard, where I can read a book in the sun to the background music of dozens of songbirds. My own urban oasis.
In the process I've made a rather disturbing discovery. As I was digging up grass near the corner of the house I found tall grass growing in a bed of oriental poppies and day lilies. Grass was growing up against the side of the house. Grass was even growing up underneath the siding. I've never maintained this flower bed since that side of the house is maybe three feet from my neighbor's driveway and I just don't go there.
The flowers are perennial. They grow up, bloom, die off, and reemerge again in spring. The only times I see these flowers are when I run the lawnmower down that side of the house.
After living here for fourteen years, it has finally occurred to me that tall, dry grass growing next to the side of my house is a fire hazard!
This is The Evergreen State and it rains a lot here. But there is a window of time from late July well into September when we get little to no rain. Temperatures reach into the 80s and sometimes even 90 degrees. Our forests become tinder, easily lit by lightning, campfires, or carelessly discarded cigarettes.
Perennials, including grass, without water, also dry out and can be accidentally ignited. It probably isn't a good idea to allow a perennial bed to grow, without maintenance, too close to a wood building.
So my courtyard project now includes digging up a flower bed along the side of the house and replacing it with gravel and flagstones.
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