About a month ago, I returned to St. Albans, WV to see the house where my parents and I lived for five years. While driving up the steep hill, I recognized every single house where my friends used to live. Looked basically the same. But when I reached the very top of the hill, I was shocked at the houses that I had spent so much time in. None of the yards looked the same at all. Our former house had to be the worst looking one and I got out and stood there in shock. The grass had to be at least two feet tall. The house itself that had been glorious when we lived in it, looked like “The Gingerbread Man’s house” gone wrong. Hideous paint job. Terrible yard.
Talked to a man that was next door using a weed eater. Told him I had lived there. He said that it had been empty for three years and yes, it was a mess. Asked him if he thought I could go out and see the huge back yard that we had at our old house. His reply was ‘You don’t want to go out there.” Uh huh. Didn’t.
I gazed around at all of the houses that surrounded our old house and was stupified to see that every single one had a porch where a cement stoop had been. Every house had “curb appeal” and mulch with flowers and cement surrounds abounded in those yards. And I thought There was no way it looked like this when I was nine years old. Everyone just had a plain yard. No flowers. No mulch.
Then I remembered my dad cutting grass every week in the summer with a push lawn mower. No shrubbery to trim. No mulch to replace or repair. No front yard flowers. Flowers were in the backyard and they were perennials that required no maintenance whatsoever. And absolutely no curb appeal. But you know what was the best? Kids and I played games in my yard and had an inflatable pool in the backyard when it was summer. My dad even built a horseshoe pit and oh how I remember being taught how to play horseshoes by him.
Did I have to be careful in that huge backyard? No. There was nothing that would be hurt and thus, no parental screaming. That yard seemed endless. Front yard was smaller but still left enough room for adults to sit in lawn chairs or for kids to play. Other than my dad and other dads having to rake leaves or shovel snow, there was no yard maintenance. No flower beds to tend. No dragging in large rocks for whatever reason. Simple. Easy.
Then I thought back to my grandparent’s yard. Front yard had two trees and shrubs near the sidewalk. That was it. Backyard had perennials such a sweet pea, hollyhocks, roses and lilacs that needed no care. The grass had to be cut there as well as out front but my grandfather had some man do it. No flower beds. No mulch. No curb appeal. It was then that I remembered all of the places my parents and I lived for short periods and it was the same—only grass cutting, raking leaves or shoveling snow.
As a young married adult, my then-husband and I rented two places where the grass was cut for us. First house we owned seemed similar to my grandparent’s for the front yard had two trees and shrubs. Backyard had perennials and a big yard. The same maintenance I mentioned above was the same at that house. Six years later we would move to the house in which I still live. Basically the same yard setup only the front yard was and is the biggest. There were lots of shrubs, perennials and not much yard work needed done. I will never forget buying two window boxes one summer and filling them with dirt and flowers. Had them on two window sills. When my mom came up and saw those two flower boxes, she went on a rampage. “No one has flowers out front! They belong out back!” She was right for those flower boxes were taken down and put out in the backyard.
Forward in time and what has our society become? It has become one of putting every single thing one can think of in the front yard making the work so much harder. And curb appeal? Yep, have to have that. Mulch, flower beds, rocks here and there and all of this requires constant care. Perennials? Not much. The “in thing” of plants and flowers has to be used to make a statement. And why? I can tell you why and that is that people have been brainwashed to think that this is the norm. It sure wasn’t before. Didn’t take that long for someone to cut grass and trim shrubbery plus there were no weed eaters then nor leaf blowers. All of this hard work has been foisted upon us when in essence, it’s not necessary. To this day, I’d still rather have a plain yard with a backyard with perennials in it. Nope. Yards are sure not what they used to be at all. Yards should just be yards.