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.”
“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.