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Chapter 1






Two families live right next door to each other, but their yards look like they exist in totally different universes.  lawncare adviceThe Greenlawn family’s grass is lush, green, and has a well-manicured look to it.   An oak tree native to the region spreads a canopy of neatly trimmed branches over a mulched* flowerbed with perennial flowers blooming in it.  Underneath the living room window, sculpted bushes with fragrant flowers thrive.  Bordering the sidewalk is another mulched bed, this one with freshly planted annual flowers in pleasant shades of white, lavender, and peach.  As a member of Ann Greenlawn’s book club put it, “I love it when we meet at her house because she’s always got some new ornamental flower or landscaping touch she’s added.  It’s such a beautiful place.”
Next door, the Brownmuds’ lawn is another story.  The original San Augustine grass - planted when the house was built - died years ago.  A half-hearted attempt to sod* the yard by planting Bermuda grass seed went astray when a flood washed most of the seed away, resulting in four-foot-high grass in the low sections of the uneven yard and bare dirt on the high parts.  In what remains of the original flowerbeds underneath the dining room window, thorny thistles rear their spiky heads and weeds grow unchecked.   On a sunny afternoon in early spring, Bud Brownmud is standing out at his mailbox staring at his third warning letter from the GoodHomes Neighbourhood Association.  “Clean up your yard or we’ll be forced to take legal action,” it says. Whose yard do you want yours to look like?
Bud crumples up the notice and clenches his jaw.  As he storms back toward his home, he catches sight of his neighbour, Scott Greenlawn, fiddling with a lawnmower in the driveway.  Bud’s never really talked to Scott much-he figures the guy’s some goody-two shoes who paid a fortune to have a dream lawn put in and maintained-but now he’s peeved and wants to let off some steam. Bud holds up the wadded-up notice and waves his arm.  “Do you believe this?   The Neighbourhood Association is out to get me!” Raising an eyebrow, Scott leaves his lawnmower and wanders over.  “Trying to get you?” “Yes."  Bud frowned at the crumpled notice.  "I got a letter that said something about not keeping up my yard.  Can you believe it?  What I do with my property should be my own business.” Scott tried hard to stifle a sigh and not let his eyes roll. 
The Brownbuds’ yard was a disaster, but they were still his neighbours.  It was best to stay on good terms.  And besides, if he gave the other man a few tips, perhaps Bud would do something about the weeds that kept straying into the Greenlawns’ yard… Slowly, with a friendly smile, he said, “Well, yes, it’s your business, but when you bought the house, didn’t you sign some kind of paperwork, some kind of agreement with the Neighbourhood Association that you’d keep up your yard?” A puzzled look came over Bud’s face.  “I…don’t remember.   There was a stack of paperwork this high”-he put his palms a few inches apart-“that my wife and I had to sign.  I suppose I should have read it all, but it would’ve taken all day, and I was in a hurry to get back to my job.” Next
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