I live in a community governed by a homeowner’s association. Most houses built in Florida over the past 30 odd years have been built in such communities and the goal of the association is supposed to be to keep property values up (i.e., to stop people from storing junk cars in their front yards and letting all the paint peel off of their house). In other words, the people who live here agree not to let the place turn into a slum.
This brings a lot of financial responsibilities that I used to be able to handle without batting the proverbial eyelash. Now? It ain’t that easy.
I decided when I bought my home (and it was and is my first home) that I wasn’t going to buy a lawn mower or try to mow my lawn. I’d take care of all the other gardening duties and things went along swimmingly. I enjoyed purchasing plants and flowers, digging through the concrete of clay and sand my lot calls soil, adding Black Cow and other savory ingredients to get things growing, then deciding they weren’t happy where they were and digging them up to be moved somewhere else. A landscape designer I was not and it took years for things to settle down.
There came a point when lugging around humongous bags of mulch, fertilizer and insecticide was beyond my capabilities, and I had to use people to do it for me. My lawn mowing guys took over the job of mulching and TruGreen is in charge of the other two.
The side yard had some insect damage at the end of the fall last year, and I had TruGreen out to look at it. They decided that, since the weather was starting to cool down, they wouldn’t do anything about it. The damage was about 2′ in diameter and I called again when it reach 3′. They said they would check it out. Maybe they did, but they never rang the bell to discuss it with me, and I gave them a bad rating because of it. By the time spring arrived, the damage was easily 6′ and growing. I threatened to fire their ass, and the manager came right out. He had the records and agreed it should have been treated in the fall last year, and promised to get it treated AND put in plugs of St. Augustine to fill in the damaged area. All was good.
Except it didn’t happen because he went on vacation.
And I didn’t know it didn’t happen because I don’t leave the house very often or look over on that side of the house.
Today I went out to get the mail and there was the manager and another guy, putting down plugs. And he asks me how often I’m watering that section because it’s very, very dry. I look and not only is it dry, but just about all the grass is dead now. That’s about 30′ of grass.
I opened the garage and ran the irrigation system through the 4 zones. That section is Zone 3. It didn’t turn on and I’m thinking I have a stuck valve. Then we saw some water leaking through in two spots. I starting digging (here is where I should have STOPPED and said, “What am I thinking?”) and not until I was almost up to my elbow do I find the pipe. It’s not broken, blessed be, but the entire watering head is gone, as is the pipe that screwed into the hole in the irrigation line. It is the same with the other spot. Each guy covers his leaking hole and we expect to see heads popping up now that pressure is restored. Not.
I take off for the back yard and realize that Zone 3 includes three risers behind the fence. They’re sputtering weakly and around the one next to the sewer access (the one the plumber dug up at 11:00 p.m. in the full dark about 4 months ago to finally fix the recurring sewer problem that began last June) is a large puddle. Larger than the sputtering riser could have filled in the time the zone has been turned on.
I’m thinking what are the chances that the plumber DIDN’T crack the irrigation line in the dark and now that crack is a break? And the TruGreen guys are thinking the same thing.
Only one is certain: I can’t fix this and I don’t have the money to have someone fix it for me. I can screw heads back into holes, but broken pipes and me don’t talk.
But I try. I’m dizzy and weak, flushed, sweating and heart’s a pounding, but I hunker down and start digging. Into a mass of roots I’ll need a backhoe to get through. Here is where I finally STOPPED and asked myself, “What am I thinking?!” Now I am on the verge of either passing out or throwing up, and I can’t breathe and I can’t stand back up. I am in one hell of a bind and I don’t know what to do. I’m gasping like a fish out of water and I’m very aware that I did reach my limit, I jumped over it and the cliff where it stood. I can hear Paul Newman telling Robert Redford, “Hell, the fall will probably kill ya.”
The TruGreen dudes are very nice and help me shut down Zone 3 and get me back in the house without falling flat on my face. They run out my one and only hose and water the plugs, then call on their way back to the shop to see if I’m okay. I’m still shaking and my head is pounding, but I’m breathing okay and having a lie down, so I’m fine. They’re going to bring out a manual sprinkler for me to use until I can get the irrigation system fixed.
I never did get the mail. Dang.