Monday, November 19, 2012

Slow and Steady Wins the Race - Or Prolongs the Finish

I like the story of the tortoise and the hare and how the message is that the slow-and-steady approach wins the race.  I admit that I like it because it helps me justify just how long it takes me to get certain things done though.  I'm not a true procrastinator.  I'm too impulsive for that title.  I'm just slow with certain things. 

It’s been a full four months since I had the mulberry tree in my front yard removed.  With the tree gone I had to swap out a bunch of shade plants for things that love the sun.  It took me a couple weeks to figure out which plants I would use and to get them ordered, purchased, and planted, but I did it and I’ve got that dialed in to my satisfaction now.  I also got right on fixing the broken sprinkler lines in the immediate wake of the stump grinding since some things shouldn't wait. 

But in the last four months, the one glaring thing I had not done was figure out how to address the unsightly mess left behind by the stump grinding.  As was promised, the arborists back-filled the hole with the shredded-up stump.  It looks like soil but it’s not.  The surrounding grass has not encroached upon the site at all.  I suspect it has something to do with the decomposing wood tying up all the nitrogen.  The absence of the tree and its surface roots also made it painfully obvious that my yard is not level by anyone's definition. 

The "footprint" of the mulberry tree.

Back in August, I justified not doing anything about this because I figured that re-grading and then re-sodding my lawn when it was a hundred degrees out was not a good idea.  I’d put it off until September.  But then when September came I had plans that involved a week in Boston and my wife had several trips for work planned.  And it was still really hot.  It just seemed like a bad time to tackle a big project.  October, with its cooler weather would be a better month for this.  Of course, I found reasons to delay in October too.  There was a birthday I had to plan for, a 3-day weekend in Lake Tahoe I was looking forward to, playoff baseball, and still pretty oppressive heat.  At one point I did make a couple half-hearted attempts at contacting a few landscape companies to come out and give me an estimate but I had bad luck with that.  One company never called me back and I decided the other one was going to be too expensive so I cancelled their appointment. 

One of the many "sink holes" in my lawn.
Now it’s mid-November and my yard still has this big gaping hole in the center of it and there are so many holes and bumps that it looks like the template for the old Atari game Moon Patrol. 

If it weren’t for my friend and neighbor, Brian, I would probably be stuck in my tortoise shell barely moving on this.  But Brian managed to find a landscaper that would return his calls and over the past two weeks I’ve been watching these guys tear down Brian’s backyard and rebuild it into exactly what Brian wanted.  On the night they wrapped things up I approached the owner of the company and asked him if he could give me an estimate on my yard. 

I would love to do it myself.  I believe I have the capability of doing it myself.  But I also know that for me to remove 1400 square feet of sod (and tree roots), regrade the entire yard, install a functional sprinkler system and then put sod down, it would take me more weekends than I care to give up.  After some conversation with my wife, we agreed that this is one of those times when it is worth it to pay someone else to do it. 

So nothing has happened yet except that I am on the landscaper’s calendar for the week after Thanksgiving.  And I can hardly wait.  I just wish I had gotten to this point sooner but I'm going to trust that old Aesop had it right and that in the end, I'll be happy that I took the slower approach.


  1. Wise move. Sometimes just paying someone is cheaper in the overall costs involved - sanity, family stress, and time. Plus, if you don't like what they've done they have to fix it as opposed to you having to fix it. :o)

    1. I couldn't agree more. Many times, the "cost" can't be measured in dollars alone.

  2. I echo Tammy's comment. You'll be glad you made this choice and you'll be enjoying your new yard in no time!

    1. Thanks for checking in, Cat. I think you are right. I'm really looking forward to the process.

  3. Chad, I am a procrastinator by nature but an also an impulsive gardener, so go figure. I make no sense. We hired a friend to dig the hole for our quarry, and I can tell you, it's the way to go. We'd still be digging that thing out otherwise! Looking forward to your progress reports. Happy Thanksgiving.