Getting the upper hand (or maybe not)

No writing analogy today, just a springtime reflection from my photo journal.


Sunshine spills over the trees to lighten the gardens with a citron glow. Springtime colours smile in mossy lawns, tiny new alder leaves and an abundance of forget-me-nots, violets and periwinkle blooms.

Every spring I rave about the multitude of greens in nature…  and every spring my hubby mutters about the quantity of moss in the lawn!

The surrounding trees keep much of our property in heavy shade. The moss flourishes and in the spring my hubby dutifully power-rakes the lawns to pull out the winter’s accumulation, then collects it with the lawn tractor. Even with the machines’ help, it’s labour-intensive and takes a few days, doing one section at a time. He fertilizes to encourage the remaining grass, and adds lime to deter the return of the moss, but it’s a battle nature usually wins.

One of the neighbours questions our annual dedication to this effort, and wonders why we don’t just let the moss take over. “After all,” she says, “it’s soft under foot, green, and requires no watering or cutting.”

She’s right, of course, but as much as I love living rurally, after years of being a city gal I still need a little ‘citification’ around me… a bit of what my hubby calls “decency and order,” to offset the wildness that constantly encroaches from the surrounding woods.

Besides, there’s still more than enough moss around to keep us aware that it always has the upper hand.


Do you keep a tidy lawn, or are you content to share your green space with moss and other weedy intruders? It’s okay, you can be honest. For all our efforts we’ve never come close to achieving the ‘golf course’ look! Since we’re on a well, we don’t bother to water during the summer either, so the grass is never a thing of beauty.

~  ~  ~


13 thoughts on “Getting the upper hand (or maybe not)

  1. torimcrae says:

    Hi Careann: We used to have a lovely, though small front lawn. We also wanted just a bit of civilization along with our acres of wildness. Not realizing how invasive moss could be I talked hubby into hauling a few large moss-covered rocks home to put in the flower beds under the pine tree next to the lawn. The moss, with the help of warm autumns and winters coupled with copious rain, has gained a foothold in the lawn. Add to that the trampling feet of our seven small dogs and we’ve lost 1/4 of our grass. We’re planning on covering up the mess with some lovely paving stones and making a front-yard patio complete with fire pit. Have you ever tried zinc or copper on the moss? Zinc strips are used on roofs to combat moss. I think they use copper spray on trees.

    • Carol says:

      Hi Tori. I have a few moss-covered rocks around, too, as the second-to-last photo shows, and also a moss-covered concrete planter. Neither started out that way, but the moss will cover anything if given half a chance! Your patio sounds like a great and useful solution for your yard. My DH jokingly threatens to cover ours in concrete, but it would look like a parking lot (or maybe a skate board park, given the terracing) rather than a patio!

  2. Judith Robl says:

    I’m sorry, my friend, but you never write anything without a writing analogy inherent in it.

    Moss is the “good enough” in our writing. It comes without thought or cultivation. As writers, we need to be like your husband, power-raking our words in self-edits. Ruthlessly carrying away the merely adequate and cultivating the work of a tended lawn, fertilizing our ideas, trimming our verbiage, creating a beautiful sanctuary for our readers.

    • Carol says:

      Judith, trust another writer to see a writing analogy! Now I’ll never again see moss in the same way. Getting rid of complacency in writing takes on a new urgency when compared to that darned moss! 🙂

  3. christicorbett says:

    The hubby and I cannot figure out how to grow grass beneath two large trees in our backyard. As a result of twins and an active Border Collie, it quickly becomes a muddy mess each spring. We’ve solved the problem by spreading bales of hay over it. Fun for the kids and dog, and less mess in the house.

    Beautiful pictures!

    Christi Corbett

    • Carol says:

      Christi, the hay is a good seasonal idea. Our trees are all around the perimeter of the yard so nothing has to grow under them. They suck all the nutrients out of the soil anyway. One more permanent solution might be to border the base of your trees with garden ties, stones, etc., and fill in with a thick layer of bark mulch or landscape stone/gravel.

  4. We mow and rake. Or he does. And we’ve let the side yard go wild. And I see the deer missed some of the periwinkle. Probably shouldn’t say that too loud.

    • Carol says:

      You definitely shouldn’t draw attention to the periwinkle, Sandra! Our deer ate all our early buds, but we have more blooming now and I’m hoping the deer don’t discover it.

  5. There are three bags of weednfeed in my garage, I just need to put it down as the clover is really bad. But the deer seem to be enjoying it immensely. So I also bought a bag of malorganite. Hopefully that will keep the deer away!

    • Carol says:

      The deer around here aren’t interested in our lawns. I guess moss isn’t part of their preferred diet. LOL!

      • You are lucky. They strip my yard and flower beds of everything–except spiderwort and solomon seal. But the rabbits mow the solomon seal down at the end of summer. Not sure why they wait…

      • torimcrae says:

        Maybe you should try dogs. We have a resident deer family where we live. We had two large dogs who stayed outside (they’ve sadly passed away) and the deer never bothered anything. They didn’t even eat the vegetables in our garden. That’s not the case since the big dogs died. The last year we planted green beans the deer got an entire row before hubby put up deer netting.

      • Carol says:

        Our dogs don’t have the run of the property so aren’t a deterrent for deer. The garden plantings here were made with deer in mind and they leave most things alone. Most things. I’ve given up trying to grow tulips. 🙂

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s