Years ago, my mother-in-law had a great line for the neighbours who would commiserate with her over the sad state of her lawn. With four boys born within five years, she would say, "I'm raising children, not grass."
Well, with one dog born in one year, I am raising canine, not grass.
When we moved into our house, the yard had been, let us politely say, sorely neglected for a long time. The mere act of mowing the lawn caused neighbours to stop us, place a grateful hand on our forearms, and thank us. There was a tilting, rotting deck, a writing mass of vines, goldenrod and sumac, creeping charlie, and deliberately stunted maple trees.
We've hacked and removed, added mountains of mulch and plenty of perennials. We resodded the backyard, added a vegetable garden and a few shrubs, and transplanted in some raspberry bushes.
And then we added a puppy.
Who has play dates in the same backyard. Whose play dates involve ripping yard cloth from under mulch and digging holes in vegetable gardens.
Don't get me wrong -- it still looks so much better than it did when we moved in. The problem is that we live on a street that backs out onto a golf course, and this street has attracted people who keep their lawns golf-course-like. And us.
It's an in-between season anyhow -- plants are just peeking above the ground and it's too early to mow and weed, really. But I'm not sure whether to go the way of my in-laws and shrug off the collateral damage, or to try to win the battle against puppyish exuberance.