There was a time when I was pretty proud of how my lawn looked.

I took great care of the grass after we moved back to Abilene.

Fred Vahsoltz, who owned an implement company on Texas Street, loaned me a disk so I could tear up the yard.

I then hauled in several truckloads of topsoil. We were in a severe drought that year and a stream south of town was almost dry, leaving nice black dirt on its banks which Bill Peterson allowed me to have.

Neighbor Terry Whitehair found an iron rod which we used to shape the new dirt. I used a harrow to create the grooves and turn it upside down to cover the seeds in the rows.

I planted plenty of Kentucky 31 Fall Fescue, fertilized regularly, spayed for weeds and watered regularly.

And while the city of Abilene shunned the water usage, it didn’t complain when it received the monthly check.

Naturally I had to mow twice a week.

There was also the occasional thatching. That was fun.

We made several trips to Wabaunsee County where my sister lived and brought back native Kansas rock to landscape and terrace in front of the house. We found that debris, including a used oil filter, had been buried there.

“Let’s plant a tree right over there so it will shade the swing set,” my wife Kathy said when we moved to town 40 years ago.

“That will be perfect for our grandkids,” said a smart-alecky husband.

Well, those trees are now doing a wonderful job in shading, and dropping leaves that need to be raked up in the fall.

And the lawn looks great.

“Your yard’s turning brown?” said my neighbor one evening.

“Better not be!” I said.

Turns out the grub worms destroyed the front yard in less than a week. I pulled up chunks of sod that looked like Alan Brady’s hair pieces.

Today, the rural carrier of the U.S. Post Office moves too fast to notice that the crabgrass hasn’t greened up yet.

If you are concerned about crabgrass, you had better head down to R.H.V. and get some crab grass pre-emergent because you are about a week or two too late. There is about a two-week window when the pre-emergent actually prevents the crabgrass seed germination.

Yep, there was a time we fertilized twice a year; once in early April and then again in late May and sometimes giving the lawn a snack of nitrogen in the fall.

The best time to plant grass in Kansas is in the fall, of course. The hot weather grasses like Bermuda and other broadleaf weeds go dormant in the fall and don’t green up until June. You want to get at least two cuttings of the grass before winter sets in.

Speaking of Bermuda, killing it is like getting rid of brown recluse spiders.

In past years I sprayed the Bermuda grass three times. Tip, don’t spay the grass then walk on the lawn. You’ll leave footprints.

Even then, the Bermuda had to be dug up and hauled away. That hardy grass seems to grow back.

Now that I live outside of the city limits of Abilene I have a whole new lawn care plan.

It goes something like this:

• Water when Mother Nature decides it’s time for rain;

• Keep the rain barrels in working order so that my wife Kathy can water the flowers;

• Keep the lawn mower gassed up so that my wife Kathy can mow;

• Keep the Roundup sprayer full so that my wife Kathy can kill the weeds;

• Wait until June so the crabgrass and Bermuda can have time to green up;

• Wave at Todd Kohman as he makes a sweep of the yard while fertilizing the prairie hay around me.

Now if I can just show Kathy how to use the Weed Eater.

Contact Tim Horan at

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