Of Better Homes and Gardens

It was a great relief to realize that out fears were unfounded. Having newly acquired a house—and with it yard responsibilities—my wife and I were apprehensive that we might not be able to keep our lawn and garden in the same immaculate condition that our more experienced neighbors maintained. Within a few weeks, however, we were pleasantly surprised. Not only did we have green grass growing in our yard just like our neighbors had in theirs, but somehow we had also managed to add a welcome blend of yellow—scattered through our yard were beautiful yellow flowers.

“Dandelions,” our neighbors told us knowingly.

Quite frankly, we were thrilled. While our grass was perhaps not as even or as thick as our neighbors’, none of our neighbors had nearly as many dandelions, and some had none at all. In fact, there was only one patch of grass in the neighborhood that had more dandelions than ours did—but we didn’t feel that should count because it was owned by the city.

The neighbors, however, did not seem nearly as thrilled as we were with our beautiful carpet of yellow. In fact, we soon concluded that our successful yard was becoming the envy of the neighborhood. Glancing through the windows, we would catch sight of neighbors staring over our picket fence with mournful expressions on their faces. And when the beautiful yellow flowers turned to lustrous balls of white down floating gently in the summer breeze, their envy reached absurd proportions. Some even hinted delicately that there were herbicides that would kill off excessive dandelion growth.

This was disturbing. Reluctantly, we agreed that if our gardening success was going to stand in the way of good relations with our new neighbors, then the dandelions would have to go.

We contacted one of the seed, feed, and weed places recommended by one of our neighbors and asked a representative if he could turn our lawn into a flat, monotonous green carpet like our neighbors’.

The company representative frowned, looking over our rich, flowing sea of dandelions, and observed that yes, it could be done, for a price that was slightly less than our mortgage payments.

This seemed a trifle expensive to us, but we concluded that, after all, good relations with our neighbors were important.

“There’s only one problem, though,” the representative continued. “You’ll have to keep the kids and animals off the lawn.” It seems that the herbicide that would rid the neighborhood of our dandelions would do the same with our two children, two dogs, and Siamese cat.

“For how long?” we asked.

“Only two weeks.”

“Two weeks?”

“Yes, for two weeks following each of our semi-monthly treatments.”

We concluded that those thick, uniform green lawns of our neighbors were only for people who sat in air-conditioned houses and looked at their lawns, not for people like us who actually used them.

“If only we could find an environmentally safe method of getting rid of dandelions,” I confided to a neighbor. “Do dandelions have any natural enemies?”

“Nuclear warheads?” he suggested after a pause.

I took his comment for sarcasm, but I didn’t give up, and eventually we did find a solution to our dilemma.

In the end, the problem that had exhausted the ingenuity of adults was resolved by the wisdom of children. Our daughters, then aged 7 and 3, showed us a natural, environmentally safe way to remove dandelions from our yard. One morning, they came running into the house, faces beaming, and proudly presented my wife with grubby bouquets of bright yellow dandelions.

After that, every morning, I would send our daughters out to pick big bouquets of dandelions, which they would proudly and lovingly present to their mother. Our lawn remained virtually free of dandelions. And every day our dining room table was graced with a vase full of these beautiful yellow flowers.

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is www.coggins.ca
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5 Responses to Of Better Homes and Gardens

  1. Lorraine Weeks says:

    That is one of the sweetest stories I have ever read! Talk about a win-win ending! Beauty comes in many ways and what is pesky to one is welcome and enjoyable to another. May we always be able to find such perfect solutions to our issues! Thank you for sharing your sweet story!


  2. juliearduini says:

    I so relate to this. The owners before us had masterfully landscaped the lawn and that is not my strength or interest. Then as we made it through the seasons we realized we must be the only one on our street not treating the yard as we are full of dandelions. I love when they are yellow, but we’re at the stage of ugly stalks popping up. I’m sure we are “those” neighbors to everyone on the street, but we don’t want chemicals on our grass or to spend money on what my dad always said was a cow’s dinner.


  3. They make for good eating.


  4. Nancy J. Farrier says:

    The nuclear warheads comment made me laugh out loud. Great article.


  5. Judy says:

    Tell your neighbors that you are growing bee food, and if they enjoy honey they should grow bee food too. Butterflies also like dandelions, so you can tell them you’re cultivating a butterfly garden. Dandelions are the only flowers that bloom twice. I won’t let my dad cut the dandelions until their seeds float away, hopefully within our yard so we’ll have more.


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