Vanquish the Lawn!

I am at war. I never expected this to happen, but three times a week in the early hours of the morning, the battle is joined.

I look back almost fondly on simpler times. The days of garden hoses and screw on watering devices. Oh, such fun. A few turns of the wrist and the watering attachment was fixed in place (unless the hose end was bent, dirty or inexplicably polarized against the connection) could be strategically placed to cover a thirsty patch of grass. Then, a few steps back to turn on the water and WHOOSH, out came a giant spurt of water–in the wrong direction. Quickly turning the water off, I’d go lift up and inspect the little fixture, trying to ascertain the reason for the leak. Ah hah! The lever hadn’t been turned to the right indicator. (Or, if it had been left outside, as Dylan said, “The pump don’t work cause the vandals took the handle.”

Whatever the reason, after the adjustment, on the walk back to the turn-on valve, I’d notice my legs were covered with mud from the hose. In a pique, I’d turn the water back on with a little too much force. WHOOSH-BONK, came the sound of the “four-directional, universal watering spigot” breaking into two pieces. This meant two things. One, I’d likely be making a trip to buy a new one, probably a different model, and two, I’d be watering the rest of the grass by hand, holding my thumb over the end of the hose. Old school.

So, imagine my glee when I had a sprinkler system installed. Such a technological wonder! No more mud baths! No more weekly trips to Kmart to buy a new lawn toy.

Now there are three valves to address three patches of front lawn. The sprinkler heads are the kind that pop up—-well, they’re supposed to pop up—-when you turn on the water. Originally, I had the plastic models. They sat slightly higher than the top of the grass. Apparently, these look like Whackamole stations, because neighbors and passersby apparently couldn’t resist kicking them across the sidewalk into the street. After a few months of this, I replaced the plastic ones with metal. The base snuggles into the base of the lawn and when the water comes through, the sprinklers pop up and spray water in the proper direction. Actually, that happens in an alternate universe if it occurs at all, because I haven’t seen it.

If the little metal outlet pops up at all, which must be dependent on the correct alignment of the heavens or some water goddess I haven’t bribed enough, the water doesn’t spray in the direction of the lawn. No, it sprays a little water where it’s supposed to, but most of it shoots backward in two or three compact streams, usually toward the sidewalk. The only way to correct this is to go up to it and slap it around a bit while it’s spurting. No, it doesn’t respond to threats or physical corrections while the water’s off. But while on, the lawn’s having a feeble shower, just far enough away from the source to be unreachable by dry legs, and the sidewalk has become a frogman zone. I don’t want to even tell you what I’m saying at that point.

Oh, and did I mention it’s 5 a.m. and the temperature is a balmy 50 degrees? And in winter, it’s also pitch black outside. No, I’m not crazy. Well, maybe for being up at five, but trust me, I’d never do lawn watering if I didn’t have to. However, when I run the sprinklers, we have no water coming in to the house. It’s an old house and that’s just the way it is. This situation makes it very inconvenient to water the lawn when people might want to use the sink, toilet, bath tub, etc. And city laws say I have to finish watering by 10 a.m.

Could it get worse? Last Thursday, at about 5:30 a.m., I went out to turn off valve number one and turn on the next. Naturally, only 3 out of 5 sprinkler heads popped up. Muttering under my breath, I stomped down the sidewalk and bent over to give one of the sprinkler heads a loving touch. Then I noticed a tall man standing in front of the building next door, smoking a cigarette. He didn’t look familiar. In this neighborhood, that’s not a great situation. I quickly straightened up and walked toward to my porch. He approached and said, “Having trouble with your sprinklers?”

“Oh, it’s fine,” I lied.

“I can fix them for you,” he said.

“No, it’s okay,” I said, as I charged through my front door at top speed.

I know what you’re thinking. Go ahead,say it. I should get automatic sprinklers installed. But I refuse to admit defeat. I refuse to let this get the best of me. I will conquer! I will vanquish the foe. I will…dig up the grass and put in a rock and gravel lawn?

Mickey Hoffman is the author of the mystery novels Deadly Traffic and School of Lies.
Visit me at

~ by mickeyhoffman on February 19, 2012.

One Response to “Vanquish the Lawn!”

  1. We have a timer on ours, which is wonderful! It’s supposed to be done before 8:00 AM and the optimum sprinkler time around here is around 4AM. You think I’m gonna have my happy ass outside fooling with sprinklers at that hours?

    However, I see the makings of another really good book in this incident, Mickey.

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