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Solomon Jones: 'Survivor Lawn Care'

ITHOUGHT I WAS over my grass addiction. But this week, I learned that what they say is true. Each time you relapse, the habit gets worse.

ITHOUGHT I WAS over my grass addiction. But this week, I learned that what they say is true. Each time you relapse, the habit gets worse.

On Wednesday night at 9 o'clock, I found myself watering my grass by moonlight. Being a grass fiend, I didn't want to stop at watering. I wanted more.

The thing is, there wasn't much more to do. My grass already looks great. And even if it didn't, I couldn't see well enough to do anything about it, because it was dark out.

So why would a man whose lawn is perfect return to a destructive grass addiction?

The answer is alarmingly simple: People, places and things.

The things I need to avoid - lawnmowers and other grass paraphernalia - are all around me at this time of year. The places I need to stay away from are right in front of my house. And the people who've driven me back to grass dependency are the same ones who make my little corner of Philadelphia so great - my neighbors.

"I've got a bone to pick with you," one of them said the other night when I came home at dusk.

"You've started something with your grass. Now everybody feels like they've gotta keep up."

As she said it, she was putting down patch grass, and she was doing it in the dark. Just like I do when my grass jones is at its worst.

"The competition will good for all of us," I said with a smile. "If we ever decide to sell our houses, we'll get top dollar because we'll be known as the block with the best grass."

There was fire behind my smile. As great as my neighbors are, I ain't got love for nobody when it comes to defending my Grass King crown.

Apparently, no one's intimidated by that.

My neighbors are ready to engage me in a game of "Lawn Care Survivor." And they've got weapons.

One of them bought a tiller and a hoe (no, not that kind) and did a top-notch mulch job in his front yard. Another used a shovel to put down sod. Some guy at the end of the block used a phone to call a lawn-care service. A lady across the street busted out with a brand-new lawnmower.

In short, they've left me with little choice but to get weapons of my own.

The hedges in front of my house are my first line of defense are.

They're small evergreens with hard branches, but I think that if I park my car and invest the gasoline savings in an industrial-strength hedge trimmer, I can make them the centerpiece of my lawn.

LaVeta says I should trim them into busts of Barack and Michelle Obama. But I think that in order to win, I'm gonna have to show mad skills.

That's why I'm planning a Mt. Rushmore deal for the hedges - something that would not only feature the Obamas, but the Clintons, the Bushes and the McCains.

I'd call it Mt. Bushmore.

BETTER YET, I could place one of those fountains with the little naked angels in the middle of the lawn. Instead of water, it could spew fertilizer.

Sure, the thing might stink a little, but it would keep my grass green while simultaneously driving my neighbors back into their homes and away from my lawn king title.

The last option would be to go high-tech. I could install a motion detector in my lawn and connect it to a multimedia entertainment system. Each time someone walked by, "Shake What Your Mama Gave You" would blare from the hedges, my Japanese irises would turn into disco lights and selected blades of grass would begin doing the electric slide.

Of course, I could do the sensible thing and get help for my grass problem. And I will, right after I reclaim my crown. *

Solomon Jones appears every Saturday. He can be reached at