March 21, 2018

Weeding For Other People

Why is it that having someone else do your weeding for you causes such guilt? It's weird.

Since we've moved here, I have had a couple of experiences with this. The first one was with my next-door neighbor. Sweetest lady. I noticed her one flowerbed next to the house could use some love. She's a grandma; so I offered to take care of it. I guess that was my first mistake.

She very sweetly but firmly turned me down flat. I tried to explain that I enjoy gardening, I would be out doing my own anyway, it would be no problem, etc. etc. She would have none of it! She went on to say how hard she found it to keep up with the yard since the passing of her husband. I put out the idea that maybe that was one reason we became neighbors, so that she would have some help with her yard--me!

I was just going to go ahead and do it anyway, when she said the one thing that truly stopped me. She said, "Please don't. If I saw you out there weeding my flowerbed, and you just had a baby and all your little kids, I would feel so guilty." Well, darn it! What am I supposed to say to that?

I still may carry out a covert weeding mission some day when she's not home and just see if she notices, but should I? I've been debating with myself ever since. Is it more important to me than to her? I mean, I don't want to force it on her or make a big issue of it. However, from the way she talked when I offered, it seemed like it is something she would like to have done. It's not like her weeds bother me--just that I noticed them, along with the thought that this was something I was well equipped to take care of. See, I probably should have just done it rather than offering in the first place.

* * * * *

Then today, it was a gorgeous spring day. Perfect for digging grass out of the flowerbeds at this house where we're staying. This time I was wiser and just got out my stuff and got to work. Then the lady we're staying with came outside. She saw me and said, "What are you doing?" I denied everything. "Who me? Nothing," I replied. She said, "You shouldn't be doing that! Stop that!" Such is our friendship at this point that I politely said, "No." Then she jokingly (mostly, I think) said, "Get out of my yard!" I just smiled and kept going.

Then we chatted for a minute about how she used to love gardening, but it was so hard on the knees. I kept weeding as we talked. She left it at that, though I probably haven't heard the end of it! I fully intend to finish the flowerbed and clean up her dead perennials as well. I mean, it's the least I can do. She has been so kind and generous letting us stay in her basement indefinitely. I may even talk her into letting me plant some low-maintenance perennials to crowd out the grass.

[On a related note: weed fabric is useless! All of the grass I was digging up was growing on top of the weed fabric, in the layer of dirt formed as the mulch has broken down. Most of the roots pierced the cloth, so I couldn't get them completely dug up. I strongly dislike weed fabric. Ok. As you were.]

By the way, it seems to go a lot better if you see someone weeding and jump in to help. That was the case last week with a different neighbor.

* * * * *

Talk to me! Would you feel guilty if someone offered to dig up your weeds? (Or just did it.) If so, why? What piece to this puzzle am I missing here? Mowing lawns and shoveling snow don't encounter nearly the same resistance. Same with raking leaves. What's the difference?

While I don't love weeding, I do find it satisfying. It's something many older people are not able to do anymore themselves, but I still have young knees. Ok. I have middle-aged knees, but they aren't giving me any trouble yet! I dare say I'm quite good at it. I'm thorough and I can almost guarantee I won't dig up the wrong thing! Yet none of these "qualifications" seem to bear weight with those I'm trying to help.

So what gives?

Also, any ideas to fine-tune my approach?


  1. We humans are crazy, aren't we? It is humbling to allow ourselves to be served. I think this is something that our Savior, Jesus Christ's disciples struggled with when He sought to serve them by washing their feet. You're right, sometimes it is a lot better to just do than to ask first. Your idea of still weeding for them, maybe at a time they won't realize you're doing it, is perfect. If they ask you about it, just tell them you're serving them because you love them, or that it is your way of saying thank you for their service to you and your family. Maybe that will make it easier for them. :-) Then, if they find a different way to serve you, be sure you receive it as graciously as you want them to receive the weeding. Personally, I don't complain about my weeds "magically" disappearing. You're a great friend and neighbor!

    1. Thanks for this perspective, Elizabeth. Also, HI! :)

  2. Though you meant well, perhaps it was a bit presumptuous of you to assume you know what is best for your neighbor. Slow down. Get to know her. Gently. Maybe offer a glass of tea. Another day ask her to tell you about the flowers in that bed and how she chose them. You may know what is best for your children, but your neighbor is not a child. Respect her wishes for now.