Hi! I'm Freddie Chopin, (pronounced Choppin) the world-famous composer and pianist. You might know me from such works as the Minute Waltz, my Piano Concertos in F minor and E minor, the Grand Polonaise in E flat major, the always-enjoyable Scherzo in E major, and of course, the third movement of my Funeral March sonata. But I'm not always inventing innovatively expressive piano techniques and developing lush chromatic tonalities into a unique language of harmonious dissonance. In my spare time, I'm out there in the yard, just like you, trying to keep my lawn as neat, healthy, and well-groomed as possible! And it's not easy, either, even with the latest in state-of-the-art lawn-care machinery and chemical herbicides.
Here, then, is my personal Guide to Better Lawn Care, exclusive to Uncyclopedia, and guaranteed to help you keep your yard in tip-top condition for years to come!
Types of Grass
Everyone knows that choosing a grass that suits your climate and other environmental factors is essential for achieving good results. To begin with, ask yourself these questions: How much sun will the lawn receive? How much rain? How much wear and tear? Are there lots of insects, moles, and other pests about? And perhaps most importantly, will it be exposed to unusual chordal progressions and jarring, unexpected key changes?
New grass varieties are developed every year, but unless you're planning to play endlessly-repeating cantatas by Bela Bartok and Heinrich Boll around the yard, consider sticking with a traditional fescue or bluegrass mixture. If you have horses, you'll want to plant timothy, bromegrass or basic orchardgrass, possibly with some clover and alfalfa mixed in. But if you tend to prefer the modernist atonal stylings of such visionaries as Stravinski, Prokoviev, or Gyorgi Ligeti, you'll want something tougher — think "pampas" grass, Bermuda grass, or even buffalograss. Note that these varieties are also highly resistant to fungal infestation, making them ideal for high-moisture environments with loose, loamy soils, especially those with high sand content. (That is, unless the sand is Georges Sand, in which case you might as well just not bother!)
In lawn care, counterpoint is the creation of texture through the nearby spacing of complementary, yet separate layers of planted grass seed spread "against" each other in a "polyphonous planting." In modern years, this technique has seen frequent use on the lawns of Western musicians like Weezer and The Presidents of the United States of America. Or at least it used to. It is a daunting task indeed to remain appraised of lawn conditions worldwide when one is busy writing books and attending speaking engagements for $100,000.00 per appearance, especially from my remote hideaway six feet under and several lifetimes beyond the grave.
The term counterpoint comes from the Latin
crudus contra crudus ("green against green"). Should your lawn actually have the appearance of "crud against crud", I would strongly urge a complete stripping of all sod down to the good, brown earth, and a begin a new planting from scratch.
Chromatic lawns utilize a wide variety of seeds to produce a lush, varied appearance to some tastes, though it may appear mottled and visually dissonant to others. This planting scheme finds little use outside of amateur gardening, and is usually tried by poor French fops that have watched one of those "Decorate on a Dime" programs on home improvement.
Chromaticism provides no visual direction and is considered clichéd by the upper-echelon of the gardening elite. Tip: When you try to save money by using leftover seed from all of your neighbours' garages, you should not be surprised when the result looks like the floor after a hard night's drinking by Picasso.
Tempo rubato (an abbreviation of
domo arigato tempo rubato, which is Japanese for
please keep off the grass) is a phrase which aids us in remembering the importance of avoiding traffic on newly sprung blades of grass until they have developed sufficient strength to spring upward after being trodden upon by masses of vaudeville-loving philistines.
In some instances, traffic is impossible to avoid, and a technique of light trotting exists to facilitate crossing with minimal damage to emerging grasses. Trotting is, of course, quite simple, if you follow these handy guidelines:
- Remove socks.
- Raise arms outward and to shoulder height.
- Stand high on tip-toes and spring forward into a light jaunt, slightly speeding up or slowing down your stride randomly, but at your personal discretion.
Do not be alarmed if toes penetrate the soil, as this creates beneficial aeration, facilitating the absorption of moisture, nutrients, and polyphonic tonal gradations.
Experts should especially concentrate on the tempo of the left foot, keeping it sure and steady, while feeling very free to experiment with the tempo of the right foot. In particular, if the left foot is moved in, and then out, and then shaken all about whilst one's body is turned around, then the true meaning of life may be easily divined, without the aid of pesky, avaricious churchmen.
Mowing is one of the least-understood aspects of lawn care. Most homeowners want their lawns to look like golf-course fairways - short, green, and completely free of thatch or clippings. It's true that too much thatch can kill your grass, just as too much atonality or jarring tempo changes can — but without clippings to act as mulch, your grass has no protection from weather, pests, droning minor-key melancholies, and general wear and tear.
As a general rule, set your lawn mower to a height of at least three inches. In early Spring, you can get away with lower heights, especially in high-moisture areas. But once the weather gets hot and dry, never cut your grass close to the ground, or you'll kill it just as effectively as a brass marching band with a drum-major corps, all wearing two-inch cleats!
Of course, it's always possible that your climate just isn't conducive to proper grass growth. In those cases, I recommend that you leave the cold winters, harsh critics, repressive political environment, and stuffy, philistine-ridden audiences of your native country behind, and just move to France. I did, and despite my being unfairly lumped in with the Romantics, I haven't once regretted it!
Weeds are an endless source of frustration for lawn-care professionals and homeowners alike. The important thing to remember is patience — you won't get rid of your weeds in one day. Even repetitive playings of my own Sonata in B minor over the course of one or two weeks can have little effect on tough, resilient weeds like dandelions, crabgrass, thistle, and the dreaded milkweed. Believe me, I've tried! Effective weed control requires consistent effort over a long period of time — sometimes even years — to produce the desired result.
The Top Five Most Dangerous Weeds
This is an extremely resilient weed, capable of surviving a nuclear explosion. These weeds can be chopped, mown, or dug up, but they will never go away. While herbicides may make them appear dead, in most cases they only make them dormant, and they simply return the next year at twice their previous size. Dandelions are close cousins of not-so-dandy lions, but are generally not as dandy. They are known to eat other ornamental flowers and grass, and naturally create cute fuzzy balls of seeds which are irresistible to children — who blow the seeds into the air, completing the plant's life cycle. Mow, dig, cut, and set fire to these regularly to keep them from eating you alive.
A carnivorous breed of grass, known for its habit of eating small animals, children, and opera libretto manuscripts. These plants may grow up to 40 feet tall, working their way into buildings through windows and doorways, where they are known to swallow first-seat basoonists whole. Crabgrass should be mown regularly to keep the damage to a minimum.
A highly-deceptive plant, popping up everywhere, from yards to cracks in brick walkways. These plants have been known to grow to heights of up to two feet, and crowd out all other living things. They grow so quickly (about 1-2 inches per year) and are so hard to control, that you may as well spend your time performing a romantique sonata in D-Major for the Queen of Austria, rather than trying to eradicate them.
There are probably two more types of weeds; I just don't feel like listing them.
The Basic Rules of Weed Control
These can be summed up as follows:
- Do dig down into the soil to pull up as much of the root system as possible when pulling weeds.
- Don't spray weeds with herbicides without pulling up the root systems first. Sprays should only be used as a finishing touch, a coda if you will — not as an etude.
- Do use simple, reflective chord structures and chromatic progressions to build suspense and melodic tension that will weaken the weed's root systems and lower its resistance to herbicides.
- Don't bag grass clippings in the fall - clippings act as mulch, strengthening your grass during the winter months and allowing it to "choke off" weeds with aggressive minor-key tonal dynamics.
Watering, Drainage, and Aeration
In dry areas, simple gestural and expressive sound colorings may not be enough to produce sufficient grass growth, especially for less hardy seed varieties such as ryegrass. You might want to consider a more drought-resistant strain (such as buffalograss) for those scenarios. On the other hand, if you have access to a reliable water source that isn't subject to rationing or other forms of usage regulation, you're in luck! As long as drainage isn't a problem, almost any grass-seed variety will produce a beautiful lawn, year after year, even if your piano is repossessed or goes out of tune.
The same can't be said for locations with higher levels of rainfall — especially low-lying areas where water tends to collect and puddle, such as England. In places like these, even the most fungus-resistant turf will soon be infested with weeds, mold, mushrooms, and mosquitoes, forcing you to turn to the solace of the Polonaise-Fantaisie and the Nocturne simply to avoid social embarrassment. However, there are a few things you can do. First, use an aerator to encourage water absorption into the soil. If things get really bad, consider digging a few small trenches, or even installing drainage tiles. Just remember, don't ever try to force the water out with Paderewski-like "finger exercises," using dizzyingly fast tempos and mind-numbingly complex embellishments. I'm not saying it won't work, but the side-effects can be unpredictable, and in some cases, tragic!
Aphids, Ants, and Other Pests
Insects can be unpleasant to be around, but they're usually not bad for your lawn. In fact, 98 percent of insects are beneficial for plant life! The two big exceptions are aphids, who eat almost all types of grass and can eat your entire lawn if not stopped, and ants, who don't eat grass at all, but nevertheless can destroy healthy root systems with their endless tunneling and hill-building. In addition, ladybugs will eat some grass varieties, and several types of bees are known to build ground nests that not only kill grass, but also annoy and sting the guests at your otherwise well-planned garden concerts! And last but not least, there's always the ever-present mosquito. Mosquitoes don't kill grass, and they often produce interesting tonal dissonance effects that can be used in mazurkas and other "dance poems" for traditional instruments — but gosh, they sure are annoying! They're almost like a life-long case of tuberculosis!
Insecticides can help, but the best way to eliminate unwanted bugs and small pests is to lull them to a false sense of security with soft, minor-key sonatas for piano and cello, wait until they're asleep, and then smash them with the biggest tympani mallet you can find. For larger nests, an even more effective technique is to find an old piano lying around that you want to get rid of, and then drop it onto the bug nest from a height of about 40 feet, using a crane. Those bugs won't know what hit 'em! Works every time!
Keeping it Green
The main thing to remember about good lawn care is that every yard is different. The same grand polonaise or fantaisie that works beautifully in one climate or environment might produce a weed-infested tract of dirt and dust in another. Even constant exposure to my Impromptu in F sharp major is no guarantee that you'll get the results you want.
A healthy lawn, like a uniquely personal and distinctive piano technique or composition style, takes time, patience, practice, effort, more practice, and a certain amount of creativity, too. But a good lawn is like a well-received grand concerto — if you're willing to devote a few hours each week to it, you'll find that the results are well worth it!