Get More Green from Your Lawn Care

Physician's Money Digest, August 2007, Volume 14, Issue 8

I love Saturday mornings when I don't have to work and I can sit around in my pajamas.

Knock, knock.

Dr. Constan: Looks like a salesman, honey. Don't worry, I can handle it. Hello, what can I do for you?

Mr. Greensaves: I'm from Au Naturale Lawn Care Service and Wealth Management, Inc.

Dr. Constan: From what?

Mr. Greensaves: Let me be blunt. I see that you've got a great yard here, but it costs you far too much to maintain. Our research shows that people in this neighborhood spend thousands of dollars unnecessarily on excessive mowing, watering, and applications of fertilizer, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. At the same time, we've determined that you and your neighbors often underfund your retirement plans. My company will offer you a total solution to both of your problems. For a fee that includes your present cost of yard care, we will save the unnecessary yard care money and invest that directly in a basket of mutual funds tailored for your retirement needs.

Dr. Constan: You're kidding me, right? You do yard care and retirement planning? Both? That's weird.

Mr. Greensaves: No it's not; it's a natural fit. You can't put more money into your retirement fund unless you save money from another part of your budget. We help you save that money, and then automatically invest it for you. Simple, easy, one-stop shopping. All you have to do is take that first step that will lead to financial security for you and your family.

Dr. Constan: But what if I'm happy with my lawn services right now? I like the way my yard looks now. Will it look this good with your company?

Mr. Greensaves: Of course not. Throw enough money at something and anybody can do a great job. In our case, we don't do a terrific job, we do a mediocre job…and we save you a ton of money in the process. For instance, we know that the actual mowing is the most expensive part of lawn care. You have to buy the mowers, maintain them, put gas in them, and haul them around town in gasguzzling trucks. We've found that if you don't water as much, and don't apply fertilizer, you don't have to mow very often. And if you don't mind a few weeds and bugs, you don't have to apply expensive chemicals to suppress them. That's why we call it the au naturale technique. It's more like what Mother Nature would do with your front yard. I'’ll be green, but not necessarily perfect. As our motto is: "The green you save can be your own."

Dr. Constan: Still, my neighbors will not like it if I have a scruffy lawn.

Mr. Greensaves: Oh, we can handle that. We'll explain how you've cut down on chemical pollution, greenhouse gas production, and noise pollution in the neighborhood. We'll point out how some of those broad-leafed plants that are so common on an Au Naturale lawn produce a lot of oxygen. And for the middle-aged guys in the neighborhood, they'll welcome no more buff teenage boys riding around with their shirts off.

Dr. Constan: You've almost got me convinced. Of course, I'll have to talk it over with my wife. Come back and we'll talk about it again.

After he left, I couldn't help but think of the wise inventor of the pet rock. Mr. Greensaves wanted to charge me for something I could easily produce on my own—discipline—and at the cost of my lawn to boot! We all need to cut corners to save for retirement, but I think I'll stick to a slice here and there rather than a yard filled with weeds. Louis L. Constan, a family practice physician in Saginaw, Mich, is the editor of the Saginaw County Medical Society Bulletin and Michigan Family Practice. He welcomes questions or comments at 3350 Shattuck Road, Saginaw, MI 48603, 989-792-1899, or louisconstan @hotmail.com.