SPRING IS FINALLY HERE and as you read this, I’m betting the sound of leaf blowers can likely be heard clear across the city as we all dust o the grit of winter to uncover the colour in our yard and await the first spring rain to rinse everything offand officially get things growing. I can’t wait to take a deep breath outside during the first spring rain. That smell of the first fresh rain triggers such a sense of joy, happiness, a new beginning; it’s energizing!
One of the first things many of us do on the first days it is warm enough, is take a stroll or bike ride through the neighbourhood. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is or even what neighbourhood or city we live in, we are all curious human beings and we are always looking around, and what catches our attention are things that look good and things we like. A physiological response takes place in our bodies. When we see something we like, our bodies release chemicals that make us feel good.
Last year my wife and I ﬂew to Victoria to watch our son play hockey. It was early winter. The weather was already turning cold and nasty here in Winnipeg. We were going to land in Victoria in the morning, well before hotel check in time, so we made plans to stop at Butchart Gardens before checking into our hotel. Within three and half hours, we went from the frigid frost-bite -30C cold of snow covered Winnipeg, to a warm misty morning at Butchart Gardens, sipping a cup of Bailey’s and coffee on a park bench, in front of the most glorious setting of fall colours that vividly looked like a Monet painting. It was surreal. Needless to say, we had an incredibly warm, fuzzy physiological feeling. “Wow!” pretty much summed it up. I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience where you’ve been somewhere and asked yourself, “Can you imagine if our house was right here?”
While visiting Butchart Gardens probably evoked the best physiological response I’ve ever had to a human-made landscape, I’ve had similar responses at many other landscaped places I’ve visited, and even at my own residence after spending the better part of the day manicuring my own landscape. I’m sure many of you have had a similar experience.
So my question is this, if a beautiful landscape makes us feel all warm and fuzzy, why don’t we put in at least a little effort on the landscape that surrounds us every day; the landscape that can give us a warm, fuzzy feeling every single day, even multiple times a day?!
It’s human nature to compare, to judge, and to covet what we don’t have. When we go for a stroll or a drive in our own neighbourhoods, we are all guilty of comparing ourselves to our neighbours to some extent, and when spring finally breaks, the game is on whether you think you’re playing or not. More and more so however, the game is no longer just about who has the best lawn or the best Christmas light display. It’s about who has the time and energy to create a beautiful landscape, or relish in the joy of an amazing light display. Today it’s about deriving joy, happiness, and creating a stress-free environment. Bigger TV’s, elaborate rec rooms, man-caves, hot tubs, pools, all-inclusive vacations, and perfect landscapes, are all ways we are increasingly looking to de-stress.
Would it surprise you to know that you can have your very own warm and fuzzy, beautiful landscape for a mere $5 per day? What’s a smile and a warm, fuzzy feeling worth to you? I’d say that in a day and age when people are busier than ever, more stressed than ever, and under more pressure than ever, $5 for a daily smile and a warm and fuzzy feeling is a bargain, especially when your landscape must be tended to anyway.
$5 a day is more or less the cost for a spring cleanup, weekly cutting, fertilizer, and weed control for the average Winnipeg property for the summer, whether you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. For some people, doing the work themselves is therapeutic, and adds to the warm, fuzzy feeling they get from enjoying their landscape all summer. Some simply don’t have the time. For myself, it’s therapeutic and I enjoy making my landscape beautiful, but when camping season starts, I pay my staff to do the job, and get away every chance I get. I guess the raw, natural messiness of the bush helps me to appreciate the perfect striping patterns in my lawn that much more when I get home. My 17 year old son and I compete to see who can cut the lawn with the sharpest lawn stripes. For many homeowners, there are many things they’d rather be doing than working in their yards, and to them, yard work adds unnecessary stress.
Countless studies have been done on the mental and physiological health benefits of being surrounded by a healthy landscape. With all the mental health issues and stress that we now face, a healthy landscape is one of the easiest and affordable ways to make yourself and those around you to feel better. To have your own private retreat from the world.
Back to strolling the neighbourhood, at $5 a day for a beautiful landscape, doesn’t it make you wonder why so many neighbours have such dreadful landscapes? Are these people depressed? Do they not care? Are they miserable? How can you feel happy coming home to that????
When you see a beautiful yard, what runs through your mind? ‘Wow, wish I had time to do that.’ ‘Gee, that looks nice.’ ‘How do they do that?’ ‘They must have a green thumb.’ Personally, when I see a nice looking yard, I say to myself, ‘it must be nice to come home to that, to live in that, to be surrounded by that landscape.’
If you derive therapy from working and living in your landscape then carry on. Enjoy the mental health improvements you are making and thank you for sharing your landscape with us.
If your landscape causes you stress, it’s time to make a call. I’m sure you have enough stress in your life as it is. Of all the ways you could reduce the stress in your life, improving your landscape is one of the few things that can actually reduce stress and improve your mental well-being. If yard work is indeed work to you, you’re not just eliminating a chore by having someone do it for you, you’re making yourself feel better by enjoying your landscape rather than working on it.
Tim Muys of Green Blade Lawn Care has over 28 years experience in the lawn care industry.