The many, many ways that gardening and outdoor jobs can go wrong:
• If you spend hours trying to adjust the engine of your lawn mower so that it runs smoothly, it will work fine on that occasion. But next time you start it up, it will be balky again. Little lawn-mower gremlins sneak into the garage and re-adjust those “throttle and mixture” screws while you’re sleeping.
• If you stain your fence, it will look great for about a day, and then a flock of pigeons will perch on it and do their “business” all over it.
• Nothing is as satisfying as planting a few seeds and then seeing little seedlings poking through the soil a couple of weeks later. Nothing is as unsatisfying as finding only weeds poking through. There seems to be no middle ground in seed planting. If you plant 20 seeds, either nothing will come up or 150 plants will burst through the ground.
• Those expensive herbicides and pesticides often don’t seem to work at the recommended concentrations, assuming you can figure them out. But if you exceed the dosage — even slightly — they will kill off your entire garden.
• If you buy an apple tree and take good care of it, it will grow tall and strong. However, the best apples will grow on the branches that reach across the back fence into your neighbour’s yard. Imagine a tree turning against you like that, after all the work you put into it.
• For some reason, grass seed will do poorly in those bare patches you reseed on your lawn, but will thrive in your vegetable garden. Even if you’re careful not to let the seeds blow into the garden, they will find a way to get in there. It’s the amazing “homing” grass seed that always goes right to the vegetable garden no matter where you plant it. Scatter it down the street if you like and zip, it’s back there germinating among your tomatoes.
• You might as well accept the fact that you will not have a nice lawn if you:
1. Work hard at it.
2. Have a dog.
3. Have neighbours with a dog.
4. Water it faithfully.
5. Have children.
6. Have neighbours with children.
• While you are on a travelling vacation, it will rain every day. But back home, your yard will burn up in the drought of the century.
• If you spend the entire summer painting all the trim on your house, the paint will be flaking off the following summer and will need to be redone.
• The dwarf juniper that you put in the small backyard rock garden will explode into the most massive evergreen you’ve ever seen. People will mistake it for a California redwood. It will obscure your entire house. Whereas, the big Colorado spruce you hoped would fill up your front yard will wither and die during its first winter.
• Railroad ties are great for landscaping, but appear to be much lighter in theory than they are when you go to pick them up. Refer to your aching back for further confirmation.
• When you order dirt for a gardening project, you will always underestimate how much you’ll need. Whatever amount you decide on will appear to be less than you ordered when they dump it on your lawn. “That can’t be 10 yards!” you exclaim.
• Laying down new sod is easy, if someone else does it.
• New garden hose inventions and gizmos will not work as well as they appear to in ads and will drive you crazy trying to fix them. However, fiddling with them will fill the idle hours of your summer.
• If your garden hose springs a leak and you fix it, another leak will follow in a different spot within three days. It’s guaranteed.
• If you go to a plant nursery to discuss a gardening problem, they will have at least 15 different products to solve it. You will also come away from the consultation wondering if the trouble with your plants is too much water, too little water, too much sun, not enough sun; too much fertilizer, not enough fertilizer, etc.
• If you climb up on the roof yourself and repair the leaking chimney flashing, it will leak more afterward than it did before you tried to fix it. While you’re up on the roof, you’ll discover that you’re afraid of heights and will have a panic attack while trying to climb down the ladder. After you finally get down, you’ll realize you left your best hammer up there.