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Karen Adragna Walsh: Bare spots are taking a bite out of our budget

Years ago, faced with bare walls of a single color, I went sponge-painting crazy. My living room, bedroom and bathroom walls, along with a lampshade and a desk, were tricolored by a sponge, adding a dimension of color. But I got over it.

My husband, Frank, also seems to have an aversion to bare spots. On the contrary, to him, bare spots exist outside. Let me explain.

In springtime, my husband inspects our property and determines what needs to be done in order to maintain and make our landscape and gardens look good. OK, I’ll give him that. But he keeps putting money into the ground. The “great cover-up” begins where Frank wages war on any bare spots found in our yard.

With our recent purchase of a truck, he now buys truckloads of topsoil, sod, mulch, stones, flowers and plants. Every weekend it’s a trip to a nursery. To be kind, I’m leaving out the part about purchasing fertilizers, stakes, digging tools, hoses, nozzles and pest-control products.

We have two islands of trees situated on our front lawn. These trees have exposed roots, making it hard to grow grass around them. That has not deterred Frank from trying. And try he did. First he planted grass seed over topsoil; it didn’t take. Next he tried rolls and rolls of sod; it didn’t take. It is my opinion that Frank can’t stand bare spots. I attribute this to the fact that my husband became bald at a very young age and feels frustrated that he can’t grow a crop of hair on the top of his head.

Undeterred, he has dumped ridiculous amounts of mulch over the previous failed attempts to grow grass on the front yard. So far so good. Unfortunately, this large patch of mulch is directly in line with the path our dog, Tanner, takes to relieve himself. So every time he goes out, Tanner brings mulch back in. Did I mention the planting of 16 hostas to cover the bare mulch?

Having temporarily solved the front lawn saga, Frank directed his attention to the backyard. Adjacent to it is a forest of trees, rendering it shady, deprived of dense grass and muddy.

Napoleon would be proud. Frank, unhappy with mud popping up after heavy rains, has conquered the struggling grass coverage with an invasion of pebbles – lots of pebbles. Our backyard now resembles Pebble Beach. There is no stopping him.

I don’t mind bare spots; after all, I did marry a bald man. Tanner, unfortunately, is running out of bare necessities, such as a spot to poop. I’m afraid he will encroach on our neighbor’s yards in search of greenery.

I can see the headlines now: “Vacation plans soiled – Couple haven’t left backyard in years because husband spent life savings on garden upkeep.”

Therefore, every time Frank arrives home from a nursery with more stuff, I yell, “Quit putting money into the ground!”

To top it all, Frank volunteers at the Botanical Gardens. You’d think this would have satisfied his urge to dig, plant, cover bare spots and get his hands dirty – all for free. Not so.

I think my constant complaints of overspending are sinking in. What’s left to conquer? The side yard, of course. I have informed my family and friends that if Tanner and I go missing, they should check under mounds of freshly disturbed dirt, or the recent appearance of a huge pile of stone.