What do you call 10 tons of decomposed granite?

My front yard.  😦

I like grass.  I know.  I probably live in the wrong state.  When I was a kid and lived in Texas for a couple of years, my brothers and I would mow lawns for money.  It was great.  When we moved to AZ we thought we might try the same thing… then we realized none of our neighbors actually HAD grass to mow.  That could be a problem.

The most common landscaping in AZ is actually decomposed or crushed granite.  You buy it by the ton, you convince all of your friends that this is the last time you are going to move and if enough of them show up it will only take a couple of hours.  Then you buy pizza and you all take breaks every ten minutes to towel off as you move wheel barrow after wheel barrow onto the yard.

When you’re all done it looks… like an idealized desert scene… sort of.  Then it rains and you have weeds and grass and all kinds of nasty things pop up.

That’s my front yard.  I don’t spend a lot of time out there.  I hate it.

So… for my backyard I went with grass.  A few years ago I put in an underground drip system.  It was revolutionary.  It watered JUST the area I wanted and was a major pain in the rear to install (just ask the buddy that helped me lay a trench every 20 inches).  But it worked great, until…

There was a chemical that had to go into the line that was an anti-rooting agent so that the grass didn’t grow into the line.  It was bad stuff.  It always made me nervous.  Then a regulator broke.  I fixed it, but when I did I busted a pipe… then the electrical line during excavation.  So there it all sat, waiting for the weather to cool down.

It cooled down a lot, in fact it froze, and destroyed my vacuum breaker.  So it sat longer… a lot longer.  Thankfully my wife is blessed with great patience.

By the time I went to fix anything the old system was done.  Roots had grown into the lines by now… before the grass completely died of course.

So recently I dug trenches for a new sprinkler system.  Not as efficient as the old system but no chemicals.  I like that.  I got out there with a pick ax and a shovel and busted through a couple hundred feet of caliche.  I was not diligent in this procedure.  Our yard had open trenches for months.  The kids didn’t mind they swung like Indiana Jones on the ropes over them.  I imagined compound fractures and major reconstructive surgeries.  Ugh…

But… I knuckled down in the worst part of June and July and got it done.  Even planted the grass on July 3rd.  Straight up grass seed (bermuda: Blackjack) is not easy to find by the way.  Most of the seed is coated in fertilizers/antifungal/cellulose material to minimize the amount of seed per pound that they sell you.

It isn’t fully grown in and some of the old grass started growing again, but here it is:

yard 1 yard 2

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9 Responses to Grass

  1. I too cut grass when I was a kid, then through college, then as an adult. I was up to around 150 lawns a week at my busiest. I sold that business after our second child was born. I only have one yard to cut now, my own. I would probably miss grass as well if I lived where you do, more for my kids than me. You know they sell astroturf for home applications, don’t have to water it hardly at all. 🙂

    • That’s funny, I have some friends and a neighbor who have artificial turf and they love it. I just can’t bring myself to do it, besides it still gets really hot when the sun is out. Plus I have big plans for my backyard that involve turning the whole thing into a garden eventually. I can’t see myself cutting astroturf out one piece at a time to do that.

  2. Jones, that’s why I live in Nebraska. My older kids try their best to get me to move to Las Vegas where they live. They claim the desert blooms beautiful. These kids grew up in the green grass of Nebraska. I think they have been away too long to remember what beautiful really can be. Sorry but palm trees are not really trees.
    I have indeed had to deal with those nasty vine things that have roots that go to China. I’m not sure what they are called but my oldest daughter had those in her back yard. We tried to get them all out and finally just gave up. Her back yard was that caliche stuff with rocks on top of it. The best that can be done with that stuff is just pile on more rocks and spray on weed killer.

    Have a great day in the grass?

  3. I’ve been to Phoenix twice to visit a friend. A very different climate and life style. I am known to dig up my grass for raised beds but don’t see myself digging it up for decompressed granite. But, you don’t shovel over 7′ of snow every winter either. 🙂

    • That is an outstanding point, Judy. I have some friends from Minnesota and every time people start to belly ache about the heat, he says, “well, you don’t have to shovel heat”. Another friend pointed out today that it’s really not that bad for four months of the year, and absolutely perfect for four months. Just really hot the other four. He was a little more generous on the perfect count, but you get the idea.

  4. William says:

    I grew up with a grass lawn (MIami) One of my first chores around the house was to cut the lawn. I then cut grass as a kid to get my spending money. I cut grass as an adult to pay bills and keep food on the table.I spent some time in Arizona and even though I liked living in Arizona, grass was out of it’s element. In fact, I missed walking barefoot on a grassy surface so much that when I retired and moved to Georgia, I made it a point to find a home with a lawn. Now I’m back to square one where “Cutting the lawn as one of my weekly chores.” Life repeats itself..(.PS Enjoyed the post.)

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