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Sherman Says: November is the last shot at next six months of curb appeal

WESTERN NEW YORK — Chances are, you have glanced out your front window this week and wondered if it’s worth cutting your grass, one more time. Nighttime temperatures have fallen and we have already experienced at least one killing frost.

Western New Yorkers still experienced record-breaking high temperatures on Oct. 25, so the grass continues to grow.

The fact that we will debate about one more grass cutting is in stark contrast to the perceptions of spring. April and May inspire most of us to fertilize and nurture the lawns, plants and trees around our homes. We keep at the task well past dusk, to finish trimming or to complete a landscaping project.

November leaves us so weary of lawn care that we no longer feel insulted if a 12-inch twig mars the carpet of green we spent so much time caring for, during the past seven months. It might be heresy, but I have been known to wish for rain, just so that I could postpone raking the leaves.

Homeowners should pull themselves up by their bootstraps and accept the next four weeks as a final installment in the process of maintaining a higher than average level of curb appeal. The branches and leaves you ignore today will come back to haunt you, during the first February thaw.

I will cut the grass once more, this season, just to sharpen things up. Small twigs, thin branches and leaves will be ground up by my mower. Once the colder weather takes root, mowing leaves will create more of a mess than it is worth.

The legitimate landscape architects among us will glance back at the garage and contemplate the edger and the trimmer. Will my neighbors think I’m showboating if I edge the sidewalk, one more time? Will the sound of the trimmer trigger feelings of animosity?

Maybe I’ll go easy on them this time.

The best lawns in America – golf courses – will be maintained, with precision, for as long as possible. I don’t play golf, but I share the admiration for a blanket of green on my property.

I leave the science behind it all to the professionals at lawn care companies, who craft fertilizer and improve seed to grow wherever it’s sunny, shady or somewhere in between. I expect all of the kinks to have been ironed out before I open the package. And, unlike Carl Spackler from the film “Caddyshack,” I do not endorse any personally-prepared hybrids.

My Father’s Day gift two years ago was four applications of lawn care. The company pulled up to my house and a worker wearing heavy rubber boots dragged a hose to the four corners of my yard, soaking it with Mother Nature’s miracle solution. A rival to rainfall and dusty bags of fertilizer, it kills the dandelions and makes the grass as lush as the best fairway at St. Andrews Old Course. Plus, I didn’t have to do it myself.

Leave it to the late “Doc” Abraham, author of the “Green Thumb” columns and books, to find the words to express his admiration for a nice lawn.

He quoted Sen. John Ingalls on the subject: “Next in importance to the divine profusion of water, light and air may be reckoned the universal beneficence of grass. Grass is the forgiveness of nature – her constant benediction,” he said.

Abraham put it in simpler terms, in 1992. He pointed out the value of grass in freshening air, filtering dust and dirt, controlling erosion and deadening noise.

“One acre of grass near your home has the cooling effect of a 140,000-pound air conditioner,” he calculated.

The least we can do is keep it looking nice while it’s still in sight. Don’t put the mower away just yet.

David Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of 286,500 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at
dsherman@beenews.com.
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