I wasn't expecting a lush green lawn when I moved to the High Desert. I thought greenery would be one of the things I would leave behind when relocating from an area with more rainfall.

I admire the homes with the xeriscape rocks and native plants and tried to negotiate with the developer on this very issue. I didn't expect them to provide desert landscaping but I wanted them to just skip over the lot I was purchasing when their crews came by to lay in water pipe and set out grass on a roll. I would prefer the untouched look.

No deal. All homes in this tract have lawns, gazanias, and daylilies that are interspersed with a few small bushes that don't tolerate as much water. That's an order. The builder's rep was firm, even when I offered not to get a price reduction. So I accepted the package deal, as if I had a choice, and packed up my croquet set from my prior digs, in the hope of finding a fun use for my new lawn.

I had a harder time adapting to the sliding door in the bedroom. That was something else I didn't want. Both these features were predetermined by others to become part of my Hesperia Home. It's not just the money I could have saved by not having a sliding glass door in the master bedroom. It would be more healthful if I didn't have to keep the air conditioning on during the night. A standard window in that room would allow me to sleep with the window open whereas keeping a slider open seems to invite creepy creatures large and small to slip into the house in the dark of night. I conformed to this feature because the view into my backyard is comforting.

With the help of design software and new garden gloves, I landscaped the backyard myself. I purchased desert adaptive plants from the Mojave Desert Resource Conservation District and relied upon the Guide to High Desert Landscaping literature furnished to new homeowners by the City. The plants are growing nicely and, because water is applied only where needed, it isn't even necessary to use rocks as the natural brown of the native soil sets them off well.

But that lawn still annoys me. It's not even level. Croquet players would get hung up on the peaks and valleys. It's not so bad that the balls will roll every which way. It's the swampy conditions in the lowlands that really gets to me.

It's not even pretty. It's August brown on the high spots, a challenge for systematic watering because of the winds and topography; and it sprouts ugly weeds with intrusive root systems just like the ones that want to grow up in the cracks in the concrete driveway. I've never seen weeds like these and suspect their seeds were in the fluff that the builders throw onto these lots after they pack the soil firm so our houses don't sink.

I suggested that the builder install a French Drain to empty the bowl they created and allow the water at the low spots to run off the property. No deal. They did however, put in a drainpipe through the curb but I don't see much improvement. The lawn still smushes when you walk in the green belt.

That's not a problem for the croquet players because they just don't go there anymore. It's a problem every two weeks for the gardener that I wouldn't need if I didn't have a lawn in the first place. And it was a problem when paramedics were in the neighborhood recently and their captain warned the crew to stay on the walkway and not cross the front lawn because they could sink in. I would hate to report missing paramedics.

I'm only using a little hyperbole. I grew up in Chicago and I know a swamp when I see one. They have cattails growing in them. Just like the ones growing in my front yard. If we had mosquitoes, I could smoke them out. I hope the house doesn't sink before I defoliate and get things back to their natural state.