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Noisy Landscaping vs. Meditative Gardening

A wire mesh fence smothered by weeds.

The Fence

We once owned a miniature schnauzer who KNEW that chasing the neighbors into their house and critters into the woods was in her job description. Although the couple next door thought she was hilarious, we fenced part of our land to keep Pixie from meeting a coyote twice her size while following a rabbit. She eventually died of old age and is undoubtedly barking at St. Peter in heaven. Yet, much of the wire mesh remains.

I forgot all about it until I tried to reclaim the no-man’s-land on the edge of our property last April. My garden loppers and I were cruising right along until the fence challenged us, much like Pixie herself would have done.

After a ferocious battle, I vanquished the bittersweet and multiflora rose covering it. The rusty stakes and buried metal were too much for me, though. They defeated my crowbar, my shovel, my wire cutters… and my shoulder. I retired from the field to heal, swearing vengeance on my foe, but my window of opportunity vanished as April gave way to May with its poison ivy, bird nests, black flies, and spring leaf out.

Cue this year…

This Year

This month, I employed my secret weapon: my husband. He has the upper body strength I lack, he has better tools, and, under Codicil 15A of the marriage contract (AKA the “fair is fair” clause), he owed me. His answer? “Sure, I’ll take the Sawzall to it.”

And that, in a nutshell, is the difference between his method of gardening and mine. He employs noisy landscaping while I… don’t.

I admit his heavy, buzzy equipment completes the job faster and easier than my hand tools. I admit the lawn (if it had fertile soil) would be a jungle if we relied on me. I even admit to a certain amount of jealousy: large pieces of machinery hate me. The snowblower threw me onto my derriere TWICE after one memorable snowstorm. (Note to self: never stand on ice while operating it.) I’m terrified of chainsaws. And the extension ladder, which is technically a simple machine, dumped me on the ground before I’d climbed 4 feet. My husband now hides his toys from me, which is a shame because I’d love to get my hands on the electric string trimmer.

Still, my method of gardening rewards me. I listen to birdsong while using my non-noisy trowel, clippers, and cultivators. Arranging and rearranging plants satisfies my creativity. In short, digging in the dirt is meditative.

The Conflict

Yet, as the neighborhood has changed over the years, the number of landowners who practice my style of gardening has dwindled to near extinction. I could once tune out the Saturday drone of lawnmowers. Now the noisy landscaping occurs almost daily and sounds more like a low-flying helicopter with engine trouble. And I understand people work long hours. I understand why they hire lawn-care teams with high-powered mowers and tornado-strength leaf blowers who arrive on random days—but always at dawn. I understand that the nearby farm will have its loud days, too.

But… the homeowner down the street, who spends every daylight hour in every weekend maintaining his acre of front lawn in perfect condition (i.e., leafless, short, green, and unused) while expanding his backyard with earth-moving vehicles that beep whenever they back up? I am secretly delighted that my patchy lawn, with its self-seeded clumps of hardy poverty grass, is driving down his home’s property value despite the turfgrass he pampers.

Does that make me a bad person?

The Solution

I thought I was successfully ignoring the racket until a strangely silent Saturday lured me outside to weed, and I realized how much I’ve neglected (and missed) the gardening. So I’ll be buying a new quiet tool to cope with it. Do you recommend noise-canceling or noise-blocking headphones?

8 responses to “Noisy Landscaping vs. Meditative Gardening”

  1. I do so hate the peace and bird song being drowned out by the endless mechanical noise of yard services and amateurs too! Why, oh why, do we need to have lawns mowed and bushes butchered first thing on Saturday or Sunday mornings?
    Why does anyone need to have their yard ‘ vacuumed’ – it’s the outside, not a carpet!
    But my pet peeve is a neighbor who burns off about half a tank of gasoline before putting away his lawn mower/ snow blower – hasn’t he heard of a siphon and saving fuel, not to mention the planet and my sanity!
    Save your gym fees and try old fashioned, slow, exercise of a push mower and a pair of shears and enjoy the relaxation of interacting with nature!


  2. Actually what I meant to type (but my iPhone didn’t let me). Long live the art AND beauty of silent landscaping!


  3. Great post. No you are not a bad person, but that line made me laugh out loud. I too secretly revel in having a yard full of clover when my neighbors pamper their lawns.


    • Thank you! Whew–I’m glad I’m not the only one who dislikes pristine lawns! I envy your clover. I seeded the lawn with it one year, but it didn’t do well. Too little sun maybe?


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