Madness by the Yard

Spring has sprung, and the lawn, yard, and garden madness is in full swing. A few tips, from someone pollen absolutely hates.

Keeping the yard mowed is a good idea; cuts down on ticks, and keeps the grass from getting a chance to bloom and toss gobs of pollen in the wind. Anyone with allergies in the area will be grateful. This can, believe it or not, include pets. I’ve fought a several-years campaign of getting one idiot canine to take his twice-daily antihistamines… because he’s allergic to grass. Which he eats under stress. Which makes him feel worse, and more stressed, so he eats more grass… seriously, if you have an animal that keeps coming down with red rashes around March to May, check for pollen allergies.

Landscape rock is pretty. Landscape rock is useful. If, for example, you have a downspout determined to be a raging torrent with every rainstorm, putting a bunch of small rocks there to keep everything from washing downhill can be a good thing.

Landscape rock is also heavy as heck, the bags are covered in grit, and it’s usually wet grit that will get everywhere. Don’t go get it in good clothes, and having a portable cart to carry it off may save you an aching back.

Gloves. Heavy cloth if you must, but leather is better. Especially if you’re dealing with brambles, roses, or – heaven help you – greenbriar. Sure, you’re just planning to pull a few sprouts, you’ll be careful…. The next thing you know you’re down a pint of blood and look like you lost a fight with a wildcat. Get the gloves.

Safety glasses. They’re not just for construction work. Grit blown into your eyes from shifting potting soil or stirred-up rocks is just as horrendously painful as bits of sawdust. Bloodshot eyes may be an appropriate look for berserkers and vampires; the rest of us, not so much. Seriously, a dollar or two spent here will save you a lot of pain.

About this time Venus flytraps appear in little plastic boxes, marketed to the kiddies. This is a vile and vicious trick. Avoid them, unless you want to deal with horrendously disappointed children when they mold and die. If you must pick one up, research carnivorous plant care before you ever open the box, and most especially before you water it. In their native habitats they only get rainwater, almost completely free of any nutrients; that’s why they eat insects in the first place. They are horribly sensitive to chlorine and minerals. Tap water will kill them. Use distilled, or rainwater.

One final note. You may think that your local home improvement center would have a garden center staffed with, say, people who actually know plants. You would be wrong. Box stores tend to think a cashier is a cashier and toss them around everywhere, especially when shorthanded. And these days they’re all shorthanded. If you bring up an unlabeled green thing to the register – look, there are hundreds of species of different plants on sale, and all too often the database a) doesn’t have neat picture IDs and b) may not even have everything in-store listed. The clerks are doing the best they can.

Gardening, like writing, really needs research. Have fun with it!


14 thoughts on “Madness by the Yard

  1. What, no mention of electric fences? Must be a country-kid thing. 🙂

    My back-yard neighbors had a single-strand electric fence to keep the horses from wandering off, and one day I was in the garden near the fence pulling pea vines out of the garden (seriously, those things grow *miles* long). I was yanking, and throwing, and yanking, and throwing… and tossed a loop of vine over the fence. Which *would* have been okay, except the heavy leather welding gloves I was wearing… had a hole. Where another strand of the vine touched my skin. Turns out wet vines conduct high-voltage electrical pulses almost as well as bare wire…

    Fortunately, electric fences aren’t dangerous. Painful, even shocking (hah), but not dangerous. I’m sure everyone’s heard of the country-boy game where they dare each other to urinate on the fence (or fool their city-slicker relatives into doing it… ONCE).

    There *was*, however, the not-too-bright townie who tried to keep his escape-artist dogs inside the fenced yard (dogs can climb fences — who knew?) by running a bare wire around the inside of the fence… carrying *raw 120VAC outlet voltage*. That’s… unlikely to be lethal, but *could* be, unlike a properly designed electric fence. Idiots playing with electricity (shudder)….

    The lilacs in this neck of the woods should be blooming Any Day Now. Lilac bushes are darn near unkillable and need regular trimming to avoid turning into bushy *trees*, but the blossoms smell wonderful. Possibly in part b/c they have such short blossoming periods. With a dozen beehives nearby, sniffing them can be a bit hazardous to your health — snorting a honeybee is *not* a recipe for a good time, don’t ask me how I know this.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Some of the lilac varieties smell, very faintly, of lilac– any time there’s leaves.

      We’ve got a bush that is actually BUSHY, I think it’s called a “French Lilac,” the blooms are nothing to write home about but it’s got scent.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Especially if you’re dealing with brambles, roses, or – heaven help you – greenbriar.


    ….the briar weasels suddenly make a lot more sense.

    Angry cats, that are longer, and have more claws….

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Dogs can take generic loratadine, and you can get the 24 hour kind.

    That said, it is probably better not to change meds when you have an elderly dog. Unless your vet is in favor, or you run out, or similar stuff.

    The bigger the dog, the more you can just give a human adult dose, of lots of things (not everything). Or a human child dose for dogs of child weight. And vice versa. Not saying it is always a good idea… But things like gas medicine can save a dog’s life, and human meds are okay for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Preach. My dog, she was so bad off we had to do an allergy panel. She is off the charts allergic to everything. Dust mites, food mites, storage mites, pollens… it’s bad. We have her on Apoquel year round and have to get specialized allergy drops from a dermatologist vet. I adore her, but I’m not planning on doing a white purebred ever again.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Year-round Apoquel, 2 different doses of hydroxyzine, and constant anti-inflammatories.

      …Just paying half the dog’s fees eats up about 1/4 of what I can earn in a month.

      I am a responsible person, the dog will get taken care of. But man I wish someone else had been willing to take him on.


      1. Ohhhh. It hits the cytokine production itself. Yeah, I bet that is effective.

        You know, if you ever start having a cytokine storm, which God forbid… you need to steal your dog’s meds. Just saying.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. We used to have a cat who – we’re pretty sure – was allergic to her own dander.

      For some reason the right treatment for that was some kind of… oil supplement? And generic diphenhydramine HCl.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think most dogs and cats have less dander if their skin is hydrated and their fur is glossy. Also, I think they don’t have to lick themselves as much.

        I mean, you can try and apply moisturizers externally, but you will mostly end up with a very slippery pet leaving oil trails everywhere. So an oil supplement makes sense.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. We got off pretty light on the ‘dog with an allergy’ thing. Mulligan used to break out like mad, lost fur on his elbows, that kind of thing… turns out he can’t use the external flea and tick medicine because he’s allergic to it. So, since we have two dogs, they both have to take the oral stuff instead. And Mullie, the one who actually needs this stuff, is very good at eating whatever food dad uses to get it down them and spitting out the pill. It would be impressive if it weren’t so annoying.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Take pill still in package. Rubber hammer into powder. Pour into warm meat juice. Add some chili powder to cover the smell.

        Believe me, I’ve tried so many ways to pill this dog, they don’t work….


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