Here's the Scoop: June 9, 2010

Time for Lawn-spansion
When is a lawn not a lawn? If this sounds like the type of mind-twisting puzzle uttered by Batman’s foe, The Riddler, well, it’s not. It’s a real question for homeowners. Because The Riddler is not around to provide a solution, let me help: When it’s supposed to be a forest.
Anyone who has ever gotten a little “trim happy” knows about such situations. Suburbanites have no clue. Neither did I, for many years.
While it certainly wasn’t the suburbia depicted in a Steven Spielberg movie, we lived for a long time at a property with clearly defined borders. There was no temptation to “expand” one’s yard. Unless you count the incident many years ago, shortly after we bought our house, when I mistakenly took a couple of extra mowing passes “on the far side” of our property line. The next day, our neighbor politely pointed out the property boundary to me. I didn’t let the mower stray in that direction anymore.
I will admit, though, that there was a piece of neglected county-owned property across the road that gnawed at me. The snarl of tall grass and weeds mocked me each spring. Finally, I could stand it no longer and began trimming that section. It didn’t take long and it provided satisfaction — but I was always tempted to expand the turf I was mowing...just a little bit more.

Just a little trimming
Looking back on these tendencies, I guess it’s natural that I feel the urge to blur the line between forest and lawn at our current home. The other day, a friend who did a considerable amount of land clearing for us several years ago, stopped by for a visit. He was impressed that we’d gotten a decent amount of grass to grow in areas that were once dominated by thick stands of trees. And rocks. Big ones.
“Yeah,” I pointed out, “my next project is to start clearing the woods out over there. And some more down there. And probably some more in back.”
As I rambled on about my “plans,” my friend noticed the glazed look in my eyes and kindly interrupted.
“You’ve got to let the forest start, at some point,” he offered.
His tone was compassionate, yet firm. But his message was clear-cut, so to speak.
My initial reaction was to snap back and tell this fellow he was barking up the wrong tree. But we both knew better.
Suddenly, I felt like I had made the first move in a 12-step program aimed at controlling the intense desire to tame a forest — to transform the landscape from one where deer roam to one where Deere roar with smooth cutting precision.
I guess it’s man’s natural desire to control his environment or something, but I had to admit that I may have a bit of a problem in this area. Even when I hike to the top of a mountain, I always get the desire to knock down rotting trees in an effort to “neaten things up a bit.”
So, I guess it’s no wonder that I can’t resist the idea of “leafing” the forest alone. The real problem with these urges is that I’m now running into piles of stumps, rocks, etc., that I had discarded several years ago because “no one will ever see these way back here in the woods.” And now these unsightly messes are right at the edge of my spreading yard.
After my initial moments of remorse, I rallied back into a defensive frame of mind. Who cares if I prefer my forest with few trees and plenty of grass? Well, if they don’t now, I’m guessing the neighbors will soon enough.