grass is always greener

Bedford Lake

You get a hint of the problem. Of course, the article I’m referencing was published way back in 2001. But, the mindset is telling. The author, who was employed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, dismisses one kind of grass as a bank stabilizer because:

Fescue tends to clump in our climate and wither in droughts. It fades in hot, dry weather, which lets weeds, brush and other noxious vegetation grow. Fescue is simply not a turf type grass.

That is to say, natural vegetation is noxious and the problems unending:

In the past, the vegetation on the newly completed dam has been greatly underrated. We have several horror stories regarding subcontractors who failed to do an adequate job establishing an adequate surface. In some cases we have had to come back with our equipment crews and strip, regrade, and reestablish the surface. We have decided to attack this problem in the future differently. On bid submittals, contractors are required to list the mechanical and electrical subcontractors they plan on using. We are going to require that this be done for the landscape contractor also. At least we will be able to check his prior work. This may not be a panacea, but hopefully it will prevent the homebuilder type thinking where the builder throws out a few seed and a little mulch and disappears.

Because the needs of the equipment aren’t being properly served. So, he tells us, in the context of praise for Bermuda grass, an African native that’s perhaps not considered “invasive” because it requires constant mowing and tending:

It will suffer and survive as much neglect as any grass I have seen. If you can get your maintenance folks to mow your dams at least once in the spring or summer (twice is better), the Bermuda will thrive. It does not tolerate shade, so mowing is required for the weeds and brush that try to shade it out. Some high nitrogen fertilizer in the early summer will work wonders, especially in thin spots you are trying to get thicker.

“High nitrogen fertilizer” on the edge of a water body! That’s the ticket! Talk about agencies working at cross purposes. But then, the objective of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for a dam is:

It needs to endure, be easily maintained and present a good visual effect to the public.

Superficial optics rule!
Preconceived notions are all-important.


Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."