By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
Because I am widely recognized as an airhead, just like the stars of the Tom and Jerry cartoons, you’d think I would be an expert in aeration, which is the process of putting more holes in my yard than I have in my skull.
But it recently took a lawn service guy (Tom) to show me (Jerry) how to do it right.
“We could have our own show,” Tom suggested after he removed the aerator from his truck.
“My granddaughters would be thrilled,” I said. “They love Tom and Jerry. Are you going to chase me around with the machine?”
“Not unless you want me to,” said Tom, adding: “It would be a cat-and-mouse game.”
My granddaughters would have loved that, too, but they probably wouldn’t be interested in lawn maintenance, which is why Tom was at my house.
His job was to use the aerator, a hulking, 400-pound, $3,000 contraption that looks like a giant snowblower, to punch holes in the lawn so water from either the sky or our sprinklers could seep into the ground and, after seeding, allow grass to boldly grow where no grass has grown before.
I watched as Tom revved up the machine, put it in gear and drove it over the ground in the backyard.
“Could I try?” I asked.
“Sure,” said Tom, who is something of a driver’s ed instructor for the company’s new lawn guys. He showed me how to work the levers — down for drive, up for reverse — and stood back.
I pushed down, the motor roared and I went flying into a forsythia bush.
“Here, let me help you out of there,” said Tom, adding that I didn’t have to push the levers all the way down. “Ease them,” he instructed as he maneuvered the aerator onto a straight path and let me take the controls again.
This time I didn’t floor it and drove like an old man, which I am in real life, except there wasn’t a blinker for me to keep on as I tootled along.
“You’re doing great,” Tom said above the din of the motor as the aerator punched holes in the soft soil.
After I had done a couple of rows, I asked Tom if I could work for the company.
“Why not?” he answered. “We’re always hiring.”
Tom, who’s 25, was hired two years ago.
“Do you take care of your own lawn?” I wondered.
“No,” said Tom. “I live with my mom and she doesn’t have much of a yard. I take care of other people’s yards and they pay me. My mom wouldn’t pay me.”
“Maybe not,” I noted, “but she feeds you.”
“That’s a pretty good tradeoff,” Tom agreed.
Then he showed me how to use a spreader to seed the lawn.
“It’s bluegrass and rye,” he said of the seeds.
“I thought bluegrass grew only in Kentucky,” I said. “And it’s a little too early in the day for rye.”
Still, the spreader was a lot easier to use than the aerator.
“I’ve been known to spread fertilizer,” I told Tom, who smiled and said, “I think I know what you mean.”
After about an hour and a half, the front and back yards were finished.
“You did a good job,” said Tom, adding that it would take two weeks for the seeds to germinate and that I should run the sprinklers for half an hour every day.
“I don’t even take a shower every day,” I said.
“That’s more than I need to know,” replied Tom, who said our aerator and spreader adventure could have made a good “Tom and Jerry” episode.
“Let me know when you come back in the spring and I’ll make sure my granddaughters are here,” I said. “They’ll love it.”
Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima