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John Mercure: Mercurey Rising

My Lawn Is Under Attack

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I am living a nightmare.

I'm one of these guys who loves my lawn. I weed it. I feed it. I baby it. I have a very special relationship with my lawn. My yard is almost like a member of the family.

My lawn is sick. Not sick like, "That is incredible."  It is ill; not doing well at all. It is in a bad way. And that has me in a very bad place.

My lawn is usually the nicest in the neighborhood. I'm the guy that inadvertently drives everyone else nuts. I love to be in the yard. I begin to water before everyone else. I cross cut so that she stays full and healthy. I'm a faithful user of the aerator, Milorganite, and Weed and Feed.  I'm so proud of my lawn that about ten years ago we began to have an annual Bocce Ball tournament in our yard so that we could share our lush carpet with the family.

Things went bad about a week ago. My daughter Aimee called me at work one morning and asked me if I noticed "the problem" with our lawn.  I had no idea what he was talking about. Aimee knows that the lawn is like another child to me, so was reluctant to tell me.

"What is it?" I asked in a panic.

"It's bad. You should check it out when you get home."

What?!?!? Huh?!?! When I get home? If one my two daughters were in a car crash would I wait until I got home to check on their condition? I don't think so.

"Aimee tell me right now. What the hell is going on with the lawn," I demanded.

She hesitated. "Half the lawn is dead," she whispered.

"Stop playing around," I responded. "I watered the lawn last night and it was fine."

"OK, dad," Aimee murmered.  "I'll see you when you get home." I had never heard Aimee in such a hurry to get off the phone.

I got home and it was like looking at one of my kids in a hospital bed. Dead brown patches had sprung up over night throughout my well manicured lawn They were everywhere.

I immediately called a lawn service that I work with. I begged the guy to come out that night. He told me he had already worked 14 hours and couldn't get there until the morning. He reassured me that there was nothing that could be done before then, advised me to have a couple of drinks, and try to get a good nights sleep.  We agreed to meet early the next morning.

After a restless night of sleep we met on my battlefield shortly after the sun came up. things were even worse than I remembered from the night before.

Rick, the lawn guy sighed. "This doesn't look good at all," he warned me. He got down on his knees and tugged at the dead circles. He analyzed the roots. He held the brown blades up to the light. He sighed again.

"Yep. This is what I feared," Rick told me. He leaned in close to show me his handful of grass. "Your lawn is suffering from a serious case of summer patch disease."

"What does that mean?" I asked Rick.

"It means your grass could be in for a long summer.  We can treat it with an expensive fungicide, but there is no guarantee that it will recover this summer. I wish I had better news." Rick actually looked sad. His face reflected what I felt.

My lawn guy went on to tell me that my mistake had been watering at night after the sun went down. That's what I've always done. He told me that during the last month there had been a weird combination of temperatures, wind and humidity that made conditions just right for the fungus to attack grass that was getting regular night time watering. Great, the perfect storm in my yard.

My coddling and attention had led to the destruction of my lawn. It was my fault.

Will it come back this summer?  I don't yet know. Will it come back at all?  Only time will tell.

Guess who has the biggest smile? My neighbors. They tell me they're sad, but I know otherwise. I'm sure on this Friday night on decks throughout my neighborhood beers are being hoisted to the demise of the "lawn obsessor's" carpet.

My buddy Vince Vitrano may also be grinning a little bit. Vitrano is the only guy I know who has a love affair with his grass that can come close to my affection for my lawn. He and I often exchange lawn stories. We're like Jordan and Bird, talking trash about whose lawn is sweeter. We even bought a cool tool called the Lawn Stryper to manicure our lawns. Here are a couple of disgusting pictures of Vitrano's lawn:

They can all temporarily rejoice in the pain of my sick lawn. I guarantee you this, one way or another, my lawn and I will be back. That's right Vitrano, we'll be back... greener and fuller than ever

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