Yesterday evening I took my older daughter to dance class while my wife stayed home. While she was entertaining our younger daughter, the TruGreen guy came to the door to tell us that we had weeds in the yard (Damn, I had no idea!). He went on to tell my wife that we really needed to use his company to get rid of them. I was so disappointed that I missed him because I wanted to know all about what he had planned for our yard. Many of our neighbors use TruGreen and I have to say that I’m not particularly impressed. It’s not that they’re not professional — they certainly are. It’s not that they don’t do things by the book — they certainly do. It’s just that the book that we use is getting a bit outdated. When I read TruGreens online FAQ it looked like they actually plan six applications of chemicals per year. I’m assuming (I don’t know this for sure), that at least four of those include herbicides to one extent or another. It looks like people who have no tolerance for weeds should love TruGreen. But really, how many weeds should people allow in their yards? Is it one per square foot? Two? Five dozen? And what are weeds? Is clover a weed? At what point do we say enough is enough and that we’d rather just cope with a few weeds than hose down our whole yard with herbicides.
After reading my own words I feel like some kind of radical. In my job I tend to see two types of people, those who can’t stand pesticides and those who can’t stand weeds. One group is happy to spray five times a year if it means that their lawn will be weed free, and one won’t touch an herbicide. I’m not sure that either group is correct. I tend to handle weeds in my yard the same way I handle haircuts – I hate having my hair cut so I don’t go to the barber that often, but I do go to the barber eventually because my hair looks pretty ridiculous if it grows too long. I feel the same way about weeds (specifically dandelions) which infest the grass in my yard. I prefer not to add herbicides, but there’s a big weed bank in the area and so I end up needing to apply once every two years or so because otherwise it looks pretty bad. Rather than making either the making the weed-free lawn or the no-chemical group happy though I think that it just pisses them both off. They see my unwillingness to commit to one way or the other as a cop-out rather than reasonable moderation. What do you think?