Help! My Yard Has Fallen and Can’t Get Up

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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The grass is always greener….in somebody else’s yard.
As I write this, a young lady from the South Dakota Extension Service is circling our house taking pictures of my sad looking lawn.During the spring, Green 4 Ever sent soil samples to SDSU for analysis to try figure out why..with an irrigation system to take care of the watering  and a lawn service company to handle fertilization and weed control..I have such a thin crappy looking yard. The tests showed an acidity issue which has been corrected but it’s still as thin as Paris Hilton.We do have three trees that provide a lot of nice shade for us, but I suppose it’s not so nice for blades of bluegrass that are starving for some sunlight.A big canopy of trees over our house..nice for AC..bad for bluegrass.
The biggest problem area is under our big old backyard maple. A few strands of fescue and bluegrass struggle to rise out of the dirt each year but soon die for, presumably, lack of light once the leaves on the tree fill in.I’ve tried reseeding with more shade-friendly grass but it doesn’t seem to help. Maybe this extension specialist will…Oh, the doorbell just rang. She must be finished. Back in a minute.
Well, that was interesting. Our lawn service guy was with her and as they were soberly giving me their diagnosis, I felt like the last living relative of a dying person being given the bad news by doctors.  
“Well, it doesn’t look like a pest or insect problem,” she said.  “We’ll need to do some further tests but it appears the biggest issue is sunlight..or the lack of it. The trouble is, even if some sunshine gets through, maples have been known to actually rob the good light necessary for the grass below to grow.”
“So, do I need to cut down the tree?” I asked.
“No, no. But you should give it a good haircut. As for the rest of the yard when’s the last time you had it aerated?”
“Ummm, I’ve never had it aerated in the 25 years we’ve lived here.”
“Oh my, we usually recommend that every two or three years,” she said.
“So what’s the verdict, doc. Is it too late or can you save her?”
“We can’t make any promises but we’ll do everything we can.”
“Thanks, doc. Whadda I owe you?”
“Nothing..our service is free to all taxpayers.”
“Really?”
So this is what it feels like to be a Canadian.

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