Celebrate, c'mon

It RAINED! Here. Yesterday. In my yard. On my crispy, crunchy grass. It rained hard, then tapered off, and was over after about twenty minutes. My roses loved it. They’ll be happy for days, maybe even put out some new blooms for me to smell. My brother may have to mow the lawn this weekend. Maybe he’ll remember how to start the mower. But I will be hauling the hose around tomorrow morning once again to soak my beloved crepe myrtle, and the two baby trees in my front yard. The grass can dry up and go to hell, for all I care, but I need those trees.

We all need trees. That’s why it always blows me away when we get into drought conditions, to see people wasting water trying to save their lawns, and ignoring their trees. Stupid. Most grasses are annual plants, if my memory serves, which means they grow fast — they can be easily replaced after they die off for whatever reason. On the other hand, how long does it take for a live oak tree to get big enough to provide enough shade for a house to lower the cost of keeping the air conditioner blasting all the time? And after it dies, how long to grow another?

I recently helped my brother put some blow-in insulation into the attic of a house in College Station where the owners were having a hard time keeping the house adequately cool in the recent/current heat wave. At one point as I was feeding the shredded phone books and what-have-you into the blower hopper, I noticed a rough looking place in the front lawn. A circular, disturbed bit of ground, just the right size to have been the base of a large, shady tree. A tree that would have blocked the entire front of the house from the brutal mid-morning sun (which was about to give me a heat stroke). No wonder they were “suddenly” needing additional insulation.

I am in no way implying that the home owners killed their tree through neglect or anything like that. Trees die, after all, and I don’t know how long those people had lived there. But while I was pondering the fate of that tree, the sprinkler heads popped up in the yard next door and started spraying water around the lawn, and into the street, and into the bright sunshine where it could evaporate before hitting the ground. And sprinklers are in no way adequate for watering trees unless they are set up to deliver the equivalent of an inch of rain per week. It’s better to just shut off the sprinklers and set a hose at the base of the tree with the water running at a gentle trickle for an hour or two. When watering bans go into effect, they generally don’t include woody plants like trees and shrubs. City officials and water treatment plant staff have information on what can be watered and when if restrictions¬† get serious.

We need to keep our trees alive. Screw the grass.

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