Presto, Change-o, Part 2

I believe I have previously mentioned that a neighbor of mine, a nationally known watercolorist, had torn down his house and was building a new one on the site. He and his wife have been living in a rental house nearby during construction. Today as I walked past the house, he was out in the street talking to a contractor.

I commented that the house was really shaping up nicely (my last walkthrough was a week or two ago), and he said, yes, they had just a week left to go.

As I looked again, surprised that it was so near completion, I was even more surprised to see that the front yard was covered with grass and a gravel driveway. I said, “Whoa! I just walked past here yesterday, and my head must really have been in the clouds because I didn’t even notice that the landscaping had been done.” (In fact, I later realized that what I had noticed yesterday was someone carrying a large triple sink into the house.)

He said, “Oh, it’s all been done in just the past two hours. It really makes a difference, doesn’t it?” Indeed.

The current trend in landscaping is certainly one of the most dramatic changes in home construction I’ve observed in my lifetime. I well recall a new house in our old neighborhood in Mobile. When construction was complete, a few shrubs were planted around the foundation, and grass plugs were dotted across the prospective “lawn.” The site was hilly, and the first good rain washed all the plugs down into the gutter. By this method it can take years to establish a lawn (and weeds get a firm foothold in the process).

Nowadays, landscapers arrive and roll out sod like carpet. By the time they are finished, the house looks as if it had been there forever, although sometimes even the sod isn’t permanent. A few years ago I was surprised to see landscapers removing the practically brand-new sod in front of the new house across the street from us and laying fresh sod. When I inquired, I learned that the owners had discovered that the original sod contained traces of some unwanted strain of grass that they considered a contaminant, and so they wanted it eradicated and replaced (presumably at no additional cost).

“Manufactured homes” are commonly denigrated, and even prefabricated house components haven’t entirely caught on yet, but readymade lawns are very much in fashion.

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