How Does Your Garden Grow?

by Honolulu Mother

In Hawaii we don’t really have an off-season for gardening . Grass grows year-round, and there’s no general off season, although specific crops are seasonal — and it looks like a good year for lychee! I know that most of you are more tied to the seasons on this, though, and you must be well into the gardening time of year now.

Our gardening and landscaping focus is on the edible or the fragrant. I have an herb pot (a strawberry pot with herbs in the holes) convenient-ish to kitchen along with a giant rosemary bush. We periodically plant eggplant, tomatoes, and other veg in a bed up on the hill behind our house; right now it’s had all the overgrown junk ripped out for a reboot after we return from our summer travel. We have an assortment of fruit trees, an allspice tree that produces no allspice berries but is very fragrant when it flowers, scented roses, gardenia, and night-blooming jasmine.

There is very little in the way of garden design in the yard, as we just tuck plants or beds in where they seem to fit. Perhaps with more time we would do this in a more planned manner and without the periods of neglect when school and kid activities get busy. I see lots of retirees gardening as I head out or return home on weekdays, and their yards show the benefit of regular care.

What do you do with your yard or garden? Are there any serious gardeners out there? Do you outsource it all to a yard service or teenaged child? Or do you combine yard service with your own gardening? Do you try to grow your own food to any significant degree? How much do you try to design your garden? And whether or not you actually execute these plans, would your ideal garden be the grounds at Versailles, a cottage garden, a rock garden, or something else altogether?


149 thoughts on “How Does Your Garden Grow?

  1. I like this topic!

    DH is the gardener in the family, but I have strong aesthetic opinions, so we use both when picking the trees we want to put in. When we got the house the garden had a bunch of old concrete circles and a concrete bench, so we dismantled those (they were also drainage problems) and put in a patio at the back of the house with a little garden there. That one has tiger lilies, poppies, some pretty pink and white flowers, and strawberries for ground cover. We also have a small wall dividing the back yard from the side – DH grew up the roses that were there (very small, now GIANT) and he and my brother built a pergola on which those roses are growing now. In the garden circle (previously surrounded by concrete) we have a birch tree (4 trunks), some azalea, and some struggling peonies. The border of the garden is mostly rhododendrons and grasses/blue flowers, and the front of the house has giant pyrrhus (sp?) and rhododendrons and some big BIG yew bushes.

    We have put in a BUNCH of trees and shrubs at the front of the house since we moved – magnolia, dogwood, yew, spruce, maple, silk, cherry. Basically creating a screen along the property line. We also put in a low stone wall across one side of the front, which looks really nice.

    DH has an herb garden in the basement with mint, basil, thai basil, and rosemary. All the basil I think has cross-bred so it is halfway sweet and halfway spicy. We don’t have any other edibles (would have to be in raised bed bc of lead paint worries).

    My ideal garden would be kind of like this:

  2. I mow the lawn and keep it as simple and maintenance-free as possible. Sometimes it gets way too high, but fortunately, the HOA takes care of the section that borders the road, and you can’t see my area of responsibility unless you come down the driveway.

    I like spending an hour or so on the weekends doing it. I just mow (mulching, not bagging) and then use the leaf blower to clean up the scraps that sprayed on the driveway and sidewalk. Right now I haven’t been weed-whacking because I can’t find a string that doesn’t shred almost immediatly when it hits the brick foundation or a deck post.

    My complaint about mowing the lawn is only because DW schedules us to be away doing something or other so many weekends (she WAH and is much more motivated than I am to get away from the house), mowing gets pushed to a weeknight. And that’s fine, but it basically means I see my kids for dinner, but then by the time I’m done and showered, they’re asleep. That was the case on Tuesday, but DW was having friends over last night. so I didn’t want to wait until Saturday to mow. Coincidentally, some teen boys came door to door looking for yard work Tuesday afternoon, and I almost considered calling them back, even for a one-time trial, but I wasn’t quite ready to cede another task to the outsourced payroll.

    The lawn is thicker this year than it’s ever been. Whatever fertilizer and seed my buddy put down did the trick.

  3. It occurred to me that it would be wonderful to see photos of gardens, and I just tested a photo url taken from my FB page. It seemed to work without identifying info. That’s my backyard. You could also use the Totebag imgur page.

    Anyway, I like the idea of gardening but I do very little. Mainly I plant geraniums and morning glories. I keep saying I’m going to do more . . .

  4. Fun topic! My ideal garden is an english cottage garden. I have a very small yard, and at the moment most of it is devoted grass for kid space. Along the edges is where I have most of plantings, various types of hostas in the shady parts, and sun loving native prairie plants everywhere else. Each year I take some stuff out and put new stuff in. I love my peony bushes. We were just given the sad news that our 100 foot tall Ash tree has a mild infestation of the ash borer. The arborist thinks he can save it, so fingers crossed we don’t lose that tree. Its canopy shades our entire front lawn.

    Due to the short growing season, I have mixed results with a vegetable garden. They don’t get planted until Memorial day, and then by mid-July when the drought kicks in I usually give up/forget to water. I usually have good results with cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans. My DD is excited about the garden this year, so perhaps she’ll have a better memory at watering.

  5. DH and I both love gardening and have a massive flower and vegetable garden, plus greenhouses. We both come from households where gardens are important. Unfortunately, our growing season is very short and has a nasty habit of frost in both June and late August, which really limits what we can grow. Fortunately, this June has been unseasonable warm.

    We have an immature fruit orchard that we planted with apples, pears, cherries, and plums. DH finally gave up on peaches after losing about 5 to bacterial canker. We’re starting to get a limited amount of fruit off of some of the trees. My mom laughs at me because in a few years we will be completely overrun with fruit (assuming they grow up like they should). We also have a couple of strawberry patches that are putting out fruit for the kids right now. I put stepping stones in the big patch this year to try to prevent trampling, but the kids seem to take them as an invitation to jump (and miss, and trample the plants – oh well). We also have a big raspberry patch, some blackberries, and a row of blueberries.

    In the vegetable garden, we have an asparagus patch that we planted a few years back and just started eating out of this year. We’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, onions, green beans, carrots, corn, peas, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, basil, thyme, oregano, and pumpkins . We also planted a double row of marigolds around the entire perimeter this year, which I think will be really pretty and supposedly helps keep the bugs out. The whole vegetable garden is due for a massive weeding offensive this weekend as the weed seeds have all popped up at the same time as the veggie seeds. The first round of weeding is always the most labor intensive, but once the good plants get growing and can out compete the weeds, it really isn’t that bad.

    I try to keep mostly perennials in the flower garden, but we do grow our own annuals to put out as well. We made some really pretty “million bells” hanging baskets this year. My favorite Siberian irises have just finished blooming and the rose hedge is in full , golden-yellow, sweet perfumed glory. The rest of the year it’s a poky pain in my backside, so I’m trying to really appreciate it now.

    We outsource nothing, and obviously, spend a lot of our warm weather months outside working in our yard and gardens.

  6. The past two years, with the drought we have been in a preservation mode. We have many large and older trees, some of which have roots going under the house or road, plus three younger trees less than 5 years old. The other thing we kept alive were two rose bushes. With the drought and extreme heat, our limited outside watering was focused on the trees, those two bushes, and whatever grass around them benefitted.

    We have had some veggies in the spring in the front of the house (light issue) and plants in our other beds, With the restricted watering, we didn’t plant veggies or replace our seasonal plants. Now that we have more water, we will likely start thinking about a fall garden and replacing the decorative plants, likely with more drought tolerant ones than what we had in the past.

    Other than enjoying the veggies, we prefer to have lower maintenance plants to deal with.

  7. It’s intriguing, Rhett, but I think I have too much of a hill, plus uneven ground.

  8. I live in an area where most people hire lawn/garden services, and it shows. All of the houses on our block have that perfect, manicured look that you get from a service. And once a week, the vans come by, and deposit workers and machines at each house, and if I am working from home, I know I will need earphones for a couple of hours.

    We do not have a service however, and it shows. I am sure the neighbors hate us for our unkempt front yard. Some years ago, when I had time, I planted lots of cottage-y perennials in front, where the white picket fence that badly needs to be painted is, and I just rely on those coming back every year. But the strip by the porch, where flowers are supposed to go, are mainly weeds now. My oldest DS is supposed to mow the lawn but he conveniently forgets all the time.

    The back is a bit better because I have a veggie garden. I do it in 3 long narrow raised beds to cut down on upkeep. I plant lettuce, lots of tomatoes, leeks (a truly cost effective plant to grow yourself), eggplant, herbs, and lots of Thai Dragon peppers. Oh, and I usually do bok choy, but I didn’t get it out early enough and now it is too hot.

    I really should get a service to do yard upkeep, but with a DH and two teenage boys in the house, it just seems wrong to me.

  9. I spent a lot of time establishing a side garden and putting in pretty day lilies from a nursery in our first home. I was completely outdone two neighbors, older guys, one of whom spent hours in his garden. He had the most beautiful seasonal flowers and wonderful roses. The other neighbor had a nice garden too.
    When we moved our house came with neat but not fancy landscaping. I tried to put in a couple of flowering plants but only the gardenias and one rose bush survived. The rest were either eaten by deer or just didn’t make it. We will soon be refreshing our yard after installing sprinklers.
    None of our neighbors are gardening types, it is mostly lawn, huge seasonally flowering trees, small stone patios and hungry deer.

  10. On a different topic – I am heading to Portland tomorrow for the weekend (work trip – workshop). I will have tomorrow afternoon for sightseeing. What should I do? I like museums, quaint neighborhoods, and beer.

  11. Now that the Totebag conversation is long past and most camps are closed, my Sunshine has decided that a residential STEM camp is in order. Is anyone here familiar with ID Tech camps? Their webpage says they operate around the country, but most of their reviews are for California near Silicon Valley. That area is very different from where we live, so expectations may be different. What other tech-y, engineering-ish camps would you recommend (or advise against) for early teens?

  12. MM – the ultimate in Totebag experience would be Powell’s books. The Rose Garden too.

  13. I have heard a lot of good things about Powells. Only problem is, I can’t lug a bunch of books home!!!

  14. I hate gardening, yard upkeep and growing things. I would love to live in a city apartment. Sadly, my husband doesn’t share this desire. Things get taken care of by my husband and hiring people. I have noticed that he has gone with hiring more people for more projects in the last few years, so perhaps it is time to revisit the city apartment idea. I do water things when he is gone, but that is the extent of my outdoor upkeep. We also have a death trap (i.e., pool) and I want to fill it in.

  15. Rhett – I’d like to send a few statues to Arthur Schwartz and suggest he display them alongside the driveway.

  16. @Milo – that shared driveway looked really bad; I haven’t seen such a bad driveway even in the more modest neighborhoods.

  17. I am never going to plant English roses here. The plants just can’t stand my climate.
    They belong in England where they grow and bloom nicely.

  18. I have a lot of English roses. They bloom well but tend to get fungus later in the summer

  19. DH just redid the entire backyard. It was a big ol’ bunch of work, but he’s super-picky and didn’t trust anyone to do it right. We use the High Country Gardens catalog, because neither of us grew up in this type of dry, cold climate. The High Country Gardens catalog has “pre-planned” gardens — they send you all the plants and a diagram of where all the plants should go. They’ve worked really well for us. We use the Xeriscape gardens, but they’re still really pretty. Let’s see if I can post an old picture from before this most recent remodel:

  20. Does anybody else find that the picture doesn’t show up in the post but if you click on it you can see it?

  21. Thanks, Mooshi! It’s all from the catalog and DH’s sweat equity. That’s just one side; we have a cement patio with “gardens” against each fence. We did the patio because we wanted Mom to be able to walk out there without falling. We talk about getting rid of it, but it seems overwhelming so we just leave it.

  22. Love that garden, Rocky! That’s cement? Embossed, or whatever it’s called?

    MM — If you’d like to use the Totebag imgur account just email me and I’ll give you the info.

  23. My perfect garden would be the garden at Shelley’s house in England — that classic English garden with big masses of plants running in natural lines. The problem is that “natural” look requires a lot of upkeep. And you know, for someone who hates vegetables and bugs and August and manual labor, I’ve already done a ridiculous amount of work in our yard, with more to come — this is the problem buying an old house from a former enthusiastic gardener, who added tons of formal boxwoods and pergolas and such, then let them all rot and fall down and overgrow for the next 15 years.

    First year was whacking the 6’+ high weeds and planting my berries in the existing garden at the back. After that came the fruit tries and a new stone-edged bed with blueberry bushes, along with irrigation for them and the berries. Then yanking down the fallen-down arbor separated the back “garden” part from the “yard” part (thing was so overgrown with ivy and honeysuckle and grapevine that I literally did not realize there was an arbor underneath) and building a new stone patio with a cedar pergola. Then we rebuilt the deck and I planted another blackberry bush there. We also progressively yanked overgrown stuff from along the edges of the yard, recovering two beautiful lilacs and probably saving a few trees from ivy, and somewhere along the way we replanted the bed on the N side of the house (under the annoying holly tree) with juniper and a crepe myrtle and some little reddish ground cover thingy that I liked but that has lost out to the juniper. Oh, and we planted two redbuds in the sidewalk strip as part of a multi-neighbor project maybe 8 yrs ago, but one has already died, so the replacement is on tap. All of this is stuff we did, except we hired out the stone patio when DH threw out his back with the digging, and we had pros install all the trees because I don’t know what I’m doing and it was too much money to take a flier on.

    Hired out: mowing, from the get-go. @ 2 yrs ago we added monthly weeding and cleanup, although we still do the “whack at the hedges” work because they just want too much. Most recently, I had the pros redo my front planter, which was ugly. And I have finally given in to the temptation of some annuals — the purple pansies we got before my stepdad’s memorial just looked really pretty and lasted a long time, so I redid them again last fall.

    Upcoming: garage is back on track, with revised design. This will require ripping up and re-orienting existing asphalt driveway (hallelujah — the thing needed replacement 5 years before we bought the house), replacing a lot of the overgrown bushes between the house and existing garage, and creating new beds where the old driveway was to make the garage not look like a giant square boil. And a basketball hoop. And at some point we will have to remove the final fallen-down trellis on the back side of the carriage house.

    I also saw a version of this at a local shop: I wanted to buy him and call him Zog, but that version cost $200 and it just seemed too much. But I think the new garage planting bed will need Zog, so we shall see.

  24. We have a yard service for our tiny patch of lawn. We have a plum tree and apple tree that I’m watching carefully to make sure they get enough water in the drought. We’ve got lavendar and some roses as well, which need little maintenance. Other stuff is sort of hit or miss. Neither of us has any real skill or interest in devoting a lot of time to gardening, so we’ve been testing out a few veggies in a raised bed here or there with mixed results. The kids love food we grow, so we’re doing some, but I’m glad we don’t have to rely on it to eat!

  25. And here are my raised beds in back. They aren’t lovely, but they are practical. The ugly chain link fence and cinderblock garage belong to a really mean guy who runs a bug extermination service out of that garage. I don’t dare mess with his fence. Any ideas on how to beautify that area? We have tried planting lilacs and roses, but they always die – the soil underneath is filled with old roots from yews that were removed (and those yews were ugly too)

  26. Notice too, the lack of any actual grass in that backyard. Sigh. I need a service.

    The brick patio was full of weeds, so I went after them all with vinegar, and now the weeds are dead, but they are just as hard to pull up!!!

  27. The ugly chain link fence and cinderblock garage belong to a really mean guy

    You’re not really in a position to criticize someone else’s fence.

  28. I have a brown thumb and don’t attempt to do any kind of gardening. DH likes gardening, though. Several years ago, he built a raised bed in the backyard, and he grows various kinds of vegetables there in the summer. We have a couple of bushes in front of the house, and a few flowers planted around the perimeter of the house, but that’s about it. Our yard is small, so DH does all the mowing and maintenance himself.

  29. I would go to Home Deport and buy a few vinyl fence panels and place over the chain link fence. A friend just did this (he only needed one 6 foot panel to cover the space between the garage and where the evergreen trees begin) and has already provided relief from his annoying neighbor

  30. Rhett, our picket fence was lovely when it was still freshly painted. My DH claims he is going to tackle the paint job this summer. The perennials looked great too. I used to get a lot of compliments on it, until about 2 years ago when it started getting overgrown. OTOH, the chainlink fence has never been lovely.

  31. We have lawn guys. I have semi-frequent fights with them about ONLY cutting the grass and not doing anything to the flower beds. DH grows his poppies and lilies from seed and is really displeased when they touch the beds.

  32. I come from a long line of farmers and gardeners, but I didn’t get the gene. And, like LfB, I hate vegetables and bugs and August and manual labor. I HATED having to pick the garden growing up because it was a huge clearing in the woods and I would always get ticks. Plus all the sweat and dirt. Ugh!

    Big news here – we’re putting our house on the market. I can’t afford to keep it on my own and H doesn’t want it. I’m looking at possibly building a smaller house on a smaller lot in the same subdivision, where I would be able to get the service who handles common areas to take care of my small lawn for a good price. And the professional landscaping that comes with the house will be carefully planned to be low-to-no-maintenance.

  33. Mooshi – I have very realistic standards. The grass in the back looks similar to mine, but maybe you shouldn’t mow it quite so low. Set the mower a little higher. If you want to go further, get someone to aerate and seed something kind of hearty. (We did red fescue, whatever that is.) I’m not onboard with the landscapers who want to kill everything with herbicide and start all over; I’d rather just do what works to give the grass that you do want a better chance of winning against the weeds on its own. That’s why I say height, aerate, seed, fertilize, and water. And if there are some weeds, so be it.

    The front just needs to be tamed a little bit. The potential is enormous. It’s like the guy who goes on a Ricki Lake makeover special with wild hair all over the place and a long scraggly beard. It’s out of control, but it all it takes is a decent haircut and shave, and he blows everyone away.

    I like the house and front porch. One or two hanging baskets of flowers over the railing would tie it all together.

  34. I have three hanging baskets but you can’t see them in that photo. I also have morning glories that go up against the fence that should start blooming soon.

  35. The front yard has just gotten away from you a little bit, Mooshi. I really like it, because it reminds me of the places we kids used to play hide-and-seek. But your kids are probably all too old now for that.

  36. “I hate vegetables and bugs and August and manual labor”

    +1. In Houston, the summer is terribly hot, so gardening is a misery. We use the backyard maybe twice a year, so it’s hard to get inspired to do a lot of work back there. I will weed about once a year. We plant a few flowers now and then. We try and keep things very low maintenance. Our yard is fairly average looking. We are one of 2 houses on the block where the owners actually mow the grass.

    We’ve found knock-out roses and mums to be good investments. Both are fairly hardy and bloom twice a year. We grow mint. For some reason, we have not done well with basil.

  37. We’ve been focusing on our front yard for years. A little here and there. My front gets the best light so I grow my veggies there. We have 2 raised beds that grow tomatoes, lettuce, cukes, zukes, squash and peppers. I also have blackberries and raspberries. I also grow peas, beans, and potatoes in pots.

    Flowers are tough for me. I’ve been successful with hardy hibiscus, hosta, and random perennials I buy. I just went to a native plant sale and have to transplant those. Hopefully this weekend. I can’t grow hydrangea though even though they grow in all our neighbors yards.

  38. Oh, Lord Rhett. No way. I am, however, really digging the pink flamingoes in the Home Depot link that LFB posted. So cheap! So pink! I’m totally going to get a few for our backyard. I was looking for gnomes, but flamingoes will work. I’m totally serious.

  39. Our setup seems to be what L’s is like (I’m the actual gardener; DW has strong opinions).
    1) Lawn service is outsourced. We’ve gone from me doing it for about 6 years, a service at a price too low for me to compete with for about 10 years, to DS#1 who matched the service’s price and I was happier for him to have the $$ than the service for about 6 years, back to me since he went off to college, and now I decided I really do have enough $$ and better things to do with my time and other ways to get a workout in.
    2) we have some fruit trees from we get actual edible fruit (apples, peaches), some oak and maple and evergreen trees. and bedded plants that pretty much take care of themselves.
    3) every year I plant basil and tomatoes which grow great, and then we make pesto (me) and tomato sauce (DW). Some years I add in peppers, but the yield is really too low.

    What we really need to do is have the front of the house (walkway) redone, but I’m not really up for spending on that. Just kinda ugly, not a safety issue. I think also our deck is going to need some serious work. Some of the boards (pressure treated) are so old they are starting to rot.

  40. I have 4 pink flamingos in our front yard. Plus 4 solar light flowers. I love those silly touches.

    We use our yard weekly. We have a gazebo and table on a nice patio. We eat out there because it’s sometimes cooler than the house. We just had 15 people there for a party. We’ll repeat the event in August. And add 15-20 more people.

  41. A few years ago my mother had a plant growing in one of her pots that she could not identify. My dad told her that he thought that it was marijuana. They took a leaf to their police offer friend who confirmed that it was indeed pot. Now we joke with my mom about being the neighborhood supplier. We think that a seed must have passed through a bird and landed at the right place.
    If money was no object and I had a nice piece of flat land, I would have a garden like this. Of Course, I would need a yard man to maintain it.

  42. “Oh, Lord Rhett. No way.


    I’m not aesthetically opposed to those by any means. We often have a much smaller one (minus the pump/filter) on the deck. I would have a deeper one, but the deck isn’t designed to support that kind of weight–one foot of water is a good, safe limit. The problem with putting it in the grass is that it would get so messy, made even worse by the fact that kids love to get in and out all the time. But if we didn’t have a membership at the community pool, I would figure something out, maybe a really big above-ground pool with a deck built around it.

  43. Sheep – I feel like I JUST walked through there at the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg. But that’s not it, is it? I don’t remember a gazebo.

    Have you ever been to Maymont? That’s got the best gardens of the American Gilded Age mansions I’ve ever seen, because it includes waterfalls and a stream.

  44. Rhett – I was going to dig up some of those pictures. I doubt that our HOA would allow it, but possibly with evidence like that, you never know. I know that they’re a joke to be dismissive of the working class, but for basic fun and cost-effectiveness, they’re hard to beat. (I also got my first real kiss in one, so maybe nostalgia plays a role.)

    My neighbor just put in an in-ground pool, and he could only afford the vinyl option. It doesn’t look significantly different than the second picture you posted.

  45. I don’t like gardening, or nature. I like to look at beautiful gardens or take walks in a park, national park etc., but I don’t like touching the stuff or getting involved in taking care of anything. There are so many things I couldn’t wait for in the in the burbs after living in city apartments for 35 years, but taking care of the outside of my home isn’t one of them.

    We moved into a development when we left the city and we pay a fee to have most of the outside stuff done by a landscaper. It is gorgeous, but it is one of the reasons that we never moved from this “starter” home to the next home. When we were seriously looking to move after a few years, we found a house that we loved in a nearby town. We asked my aunt to come to see the house before we put in an offer. She never even went inside because the property had beautiful landscaping. She told us what it would cost to maintain the property, and she spoke to us about the time we would need to invest even if we tried to outsource most of the work. She almost laughed at us because she knows that we don’t like gardening. The property taxes were high too, so we never put in an offer.

    There is some minor stuff that we have to take care of outside because the previous owners planted some trees and shrubs that are strictly our responsibility. I recently learned how to buy a hose and timer, but that was a first for me.

  46. One of my old co-workers had a house than looked almost exactly like this:

    To me it was pure heaven. Come home from work, put on your bathing suit and cannon ball right into the pool from the master bedroom.

  47. Happy condo owner here. I power wash the patio when needed and have flower boxes on the porch rails and herbs in a pot. One box has purple shamrock and a fabulous purple tubular something with little pink flowers that they have next the coleus at the nursery. The other has tuberous begonias with licorice plant. And I haven’t killed em yet.

  48. Mooshi – I second the recommendation for Powell’s books. You can limit yourself to just a few, but it is a lot of fun to explore. The neighborhood around Powell’s is not very fun and hip (20 years ago I remember going to the original Hanna Andersen factory/store to get stuff for DD in that neighborhood – it was empty and warehousey). There are lots of fun cafes and restaurants in the area.

    Two beer places I see on Yelp with 4 stars: 10 Barrel and Fat Head.

    The Portland Art Museum is also nice for a visit. Not sure what exhibits they have going on right now, but I’ve gone many times and always enjoyed it.

  49. Tomatoes, people. Gardening is all about homegrown heirloom tomatoes.

  50. I grow herbs in a raised triangular planter on my deck, and there is a Meyer Lemon tree in the same planter. I have a bunch of lemons growing on the tree, which is very exciting!

    Our backyard has gone to H-in-a-handbasket because we haven’t been watering our tiny lawn, and our new dog plays ball out there, so the half the grass is worn away and the other is dead or dying. We are going to do a minor renovation this month, which will included pulling out some weedy, unattractive plants, pruning several bushes, and more.

    We still haven’t decided what to put in the grassy area: more grass, fake grass (big here because of the drought), or something else. Whatever we use it will have to be soft and tough (for the dog).

    We have had yard guys in the past, but DH gets annoyed with how much they charge and says that “we” can do it ourselves. He doesn’t really do anything though until the yard is really messy, when we spend an hour or so tidying up.

  51. I think I would love gardening if I was good at it. It doesn’t seem worth the time to just kill everything (houseplants too.) Don’t tell my patients.

    I can usually keep animals alive. The neighbor just gave us his used chicken coop and the kids are ssoooooo excited about our summer project. I can’t wait for fresh eggs, or if that doesn’t work out, stewed chicken.

  52. @HFN – Only if you eat them for dessert!

    @Milo – Ah, Maymont Park! I have such fond memories. My favorite was the Japanese garden where you had to walk across stones anchored in the water, and we also played hide & seek in the bamboo “forest.”

  53. The one thing I never want in my backyard is a pool. You have to invest in serious fencing to meet code (and not drown the neighborhood kids), clean the thing, and deal with all the upkeep. And for what? We only get about 6 weeks of pool weather here. I just keep my town pool membership up instead.

    My DH’s family used to have an aboveground pool, and when he was in HS, he had to maintain it. As a result, he also says NEVER to the idea of a pool in the yard.

  54. We only get about 6 weeks of pool weather here.

    The average high temp in Westchester hits 70 on June 3 and doesn’t fall below 70 till Sept 20. They key of course, is a heater.

  55. Houston – I agree with your view of gardening here. On your flower list, I would add snapdragons. Mine lasted from October til April.

    I LOVED having a pool. I did the maintenance, and for the first few years didn’t mind it a bit. The kids used it a lot, and as my husband said, the chore of tending to your pool will always be 100 times more enjoyable than the chore of tending to your grass. Fast forward a few years, and I was the only one using it. I still really loved it, but it hit the point where things were wearing out and having to be replaced right and left, at basically the same time we took on college costs, and I started to resent the cash outlay. When we were moving the rest of the family agreed that this house would have no pool. I still wanted one, but was voted down. Now I’m nostalgic – it had a waterfall you could swim under, and cool lights for night time swimming. Sigh. And privacy.

  56. We have enough yard to do an inground pool, deck, outdoor kitchen, the works. And still have yard left over. But I don’t have the money to do it. Or the desire to lose half my yard. If we did we heat the pool to use it for more than one month out of the year.

  57. Milo,

    Have you ever thought about a pool vs.a lake house? Don’t go to the lake, bring the lake to you:

  58. Rhett – I want a dock and a pontoon boat. A pontoon boat with a 225 hp engine that can pull a waterskiier. I should just buy the land and put one of those senior Med cottages on it.

  59. Milo,

    I can certainly see the advantage of a lake in that you can have a boat, water ski, jet ski, etc. On the other hand, you don’t have to drive to your pool. The kids can enjoy the pool even if they have an activity that day, etc. On the third hand you can’t rent out your pool….

  60. “They key of course, is a heater.”

    When I lived in Texas, all the pools I swam in were heated. When I moved to NY, I was shocked to learn very few pools are heated. The indoor pools are usually heated, but not the outdoor ones, at least the ones I’ve seen.

  61. For me, I actually agree with Mooshi. A pool would be great three or four months of the year. The rest of the time you’re just looking at a hole, or a green cover.

  62. Milo,

    Get two Med Cottage*s. One for you and Mrs. Milo and the other for the kids. You could refer to it as “the compound.” What are you up to this weekend? Oh, the usual, heading up to the compound.

    * Compound when applied to a human habitat refers to a cluster of buildings in an enclosure, having a shared or associated purpose, such as the houses of an extended family (e.g. the Kennedy Compound for the Kennedy family).

  63. A pool would be great three or four months of the year.

    Average high temp hits 70 on April 25th in your area and doesn’t fall below 70 until October 12. With a heater, that’s almost 6 months.

  64. I think DW would rather have the lake house. I wonder if that would ever work as a bargaining chip when she wants to quit working. Just say “OK, you can quit, but, if you keep working, instead of just investing the money, we’ll use whatever you make to buy the lake house you want.”

  65. Milo,
    I am not sure exactly where that garden is located. There are lots of gardens tucked away behind houses in Colonial Williamsburg. All of them are beautiful. I have been to Maymont lots of times. I grew up in Richmond; I think that I grew up on the other side of the river from SWVA Mom.
    SWVA Mom, I am assuming based on things that you have said that you grew up on the south side. Is that correct?
    We went to Longwood Gardens ( in Delaware many years ago. That is the prettiest and most extensive garden that I have ever seen. Definitely worth a trip. Even kids have fun. DD who was seven or eight at the time really enjoyed it as well.

  66. Lately my DH has been trying to convince me that we need to buy land on a lake, and then build a tiny house on it. Attached to the tiny house will be an equally sized screened porch with fireplace. I’m actually coming around to this idea. The cost and maintenance of a cottage has been the deal breaker, but a tiny home…it will be so much cheaper. As long as it has indoor plumbing and electricity I’m starting to come around.

  67. We stayed at a cottage/hotel room in Nantucket about a dozen years ago that was built on a pier, so you were over the water (like Rhett’s tiny lake house, but with neighbors on both sides). It was fun, but the only downside was that it was always a little damp. The furniture and our clothes never felt completely dry!

  68. Rhett – That’s awesome.

    We kind of have a running joke in my family (the one I grew up in) about vacation pictures of people sitting. We have a childhood friend who has a yacht, and the pictures on FB are of people sitting in floating inner tubes, drinking, or sitting on a dock, drinking, or sitting on a beach, drinking. When people post pictures of camping, everyone’s sitting, usually around a fire. So, for example, at the lake last year, we made sure to take pictures of people sitting, preferably emphasizing their drink, if they had one.

    The family in that picture on the porch? Sitting.

  69. No garden here, the squirrels, rabbits and mice eat everything. This summer we have a chipmunk with a taste for basil, so even the herbs aren’t safe.
    We used to plant annuals, but the July sun always kills them.

  70. I may just put up a sign in the front yard that says “Dandelion Vineyard: Pick Your Own, $5 basket. 100% Organic! Locally Grown! Sustainable!”

  71. Great post, HM.

    Milo, do you have a garden tractor? We acquired a used John Deere GT242 a while ago and it has cut Mr WCE’s mowing time to ~45 min, excluding trimming which is optional-when-you’re-in-a-laid-back neighborhood. I will use it while he spends a few weeks in Europe this summer and it will probably take me twice as long to mow, but once you get the quirks of your yard worked out, it’s pretty fast. I lack your aptitude with machinery, but he can relatively easily use the mower in tight spaces. From your description of your machinery aptitude, I doubt if you need a ZTR.

    Mooshi, your picket fence looks like a candidate for a paint sprayer to me.

    I watered (we’ve had a heat wave and no rain) and weeded our garden with the kids today. Peas and giant sunflowers, unfortunately, didn’t come up, and the carrots, basil, peas round #2 and beans aren’t looking good. The veggie starts (tomatoes, cucumber, melons, squash) look fine but may not survive our vacation without water. I’m watering our fruit trees (all dwarf pears, apples, plum, cherry) now. Maybe next fall we can have a post about what to do with abundant xxx. I used to subscribe to Taste of Home or its family and I always enjoyed The Zucchini Issue.

    I don’t try to grow much of our food in the garden- gave up when the twins came- but I try to sustain the experience of being able to pick cherry tomatoes, peas, beans, etc. I put landscape fabric around the veggie starts to minimize weeding and Roundup the fence line. (Deer would eat an unfenced garden.) One of the things about growing up in a household with a 300 square foot garden and a Mom who canned/froze was that I realize how my life would be tied down by the decision to grow our own food. I would rather work for money than can my own tomatoes. We picked blueberries today (at a farm, and we’ll freeze some later) and smoked the trout we caught last weekend. We’ll butcher deer/elk if we get it. But because I know how much work it is, I’m not so enamored of gardening/grow your own as my Oregon mommy friends. I think I actually DO more, though.

    To any other new moms: I tend to get a rash from weeds when I’m pregnant or nursing so I have to take a shower after I weed. I asked my doctor about it and he said it’s normal, because your immune system is altered. He is strawberry blond and has sensitive skin and he says Tecnu is the best stuff for poison ivy/oak/giant hogweed, in case anyone gets into some nasty weeds this summer.

  72. SWVA – those stones in the water were a big hit with my kids, too. I have some critical thoughts on the mansion tour/historical presentation, but I’ll save them for another time.

    WCE – no riding mower. Too hilly, and really not enough grass to justify it, anyway. We have 2.25 acres, but most of it is wooded. I just have a basic self-propelled Briggs and Stratton that always starts right away. I should probably bring it for an oil change and tune up at some point.

    Rhett – there was a Lakefront Bargain Hunt on Lake Cumberland, KY, which is apparently maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, and no houses are allowed on the shoreline. But recreational boating is allowed, and if you want a residence there, you buy a houseboat, which is what the Hunters were shopping for. There were some nice options (in the low six figures.)

    #2 just finished a 10-day course of antibiotics for strep. Last night I took #1 to urgent care suspecting the same (sudden fever and chills) and got the same Rx, even though the rapid test was negative. Today DW took #3 to ped because of a sudden rash, and doc said strep was starting to turn into scarlet fever. (Jesus! It’s like we’re the Ingalls family!) Sometimes they don’t complain nearly enough.

  73. scarlet fever. (Jesus! It’s like we’re the Ingalls family!

    As long as they can keep the typhus, cholera and diphtheria at bay! Not to mention the dreaded consumption.

  74. Milo – sorry to hear about your mini plague. I hope to have succeeded in putting the fear of God in my now adult kids about going to the doctor if they have a fever and a very sore throat. I mention scarlet fever, Beth in Little Women, etc.

    I remember vividly parts of a book I read called Christy, about a young woman going to Appalachia to teach early in the 20th century. There was something going around, maybe typhus? that the locals got because they drank water downstream from where people used the creek as a bathroom. The description of the “furred” tongue is burned in my brain!

    One more reason I am happy to be alive today.

  75. I have a lawn, some citrus trees, crepe myrtles, roses, a pomegranate tree, a few random flowers. I am a terrible gardener and the only plants worth the effort smell, taste or look nice, preferably some combination of the two. I am in process of putting in a pool, in the getting bids phase. We’ve had an above ground pool for the past few years, basically to find out how difficult maintenance is and how much fun a pool would be. I do the maintenance, which is not difficult and worth it considering the enjoyment aspect.

  76. “As long as they can keep the typhus, cholera and diphtheria at bay! Not to mention the dreaded consumption.”

    Fever and ague. That’s what the Ingalls called malaria. From the bad watermelons at the creek bottoms (not the thousands of mosquito bites).

    ssk – thanks, they’re all doing fine.

  77. ” every year I plant basil and tomatoes which grow great, and then we make pesto (me) and tomato sauce (DW). ”

    How about Margherita pizza? Fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella…

  78. DW has a friend who is an excellent gardener, but doesn’t like basil. So every now and then, he trims his basil and gives her a huge amount. We’ve made pesto, but the pine nuts are expensive, so we’ve experimented with macadamia nuts, which cost quite a bit less, and we like the result better.

  79. Mooshi, there’s a really nice Japanese garden in Portland, next to the Rose Garden, if you like that sort of thing. The zoo is nearby also.

    The drive along the Columbia river is quite scenic also.

  80. Mooshi, if you drive along the Columbia, consider stopping at Multnomah Falls, though the parking lot may be full on the weekend. (Go early or late.) It’s only ~17 miles outside Portland.

    ssk, I think you’re thinking of Christy by Catherine Marshall. I like that book…

  81. Oh I am sorry I missed this today! I love gardening. We are in a city condo, but we have a rooftop deck with a pretty large container garden. It’s mostly food, although I usually buy a few big flower pots from Costco with annuals each spring. I have a number of Earthboxes, which I highly recommend for any novice container gardener, along with a lot of regular pots. We have strawberries, blueberries, lots of herbs, tomatoes, tomatillos, lots of different peppers, cucumbers, greens, squash. Herbs of course. There a few things that I’d love to do but don’t yield a lot in containers like broccoli and melons.

    Our neighborhood has a community garden where you can rent a plot which afford us more space, but I’m not into the idea of going further than the deck to tend plants. (It’s a city block away.)

  82. so we’ve experimented with macadamia nuts, which cost quite a bit less, and we like the result better.

    That is literally a million dollar idea.

  83. @MooshiMooshi re: PDX: +1 on the Rose Garden (many have lovely scents, which I find is increasingly rare), Japanese Zen Garden, Multnomah Falls, and Powell’s (looks like there is a post office a few blocks away and you could ship media rate!). I can’t remember if you are a salty or sweet person…if sweet, Voodoo donuts are great. Also consider visiting one of the food truck courts (yelp might help here). Pok Pok is excellent–especially their wings–but go on the early side. Lucky Lab for beer (several locations). Deschutes is a big brewery based in Bend; likely a good option to get on tap most places (just searched and they have a tap room two blocks from Powell’s :-) ). These recommendations are spread across the city, so a lot may depend on where you are staying.

  84. Average high temp hits 70 on April 25th in your area and doesn’t fall below 70 until October 12. With a heater, that’s almost 6 months.

    With a heater and a willingness to pay to run said heater, you can use the pool year round. There’s nothing like swimming while it’s snowing.

  85. On the lawn tractors, I was stunned to see a guy in my neighborhood riding one this morning to mow his lawn. Our lots are about 1/4 acre and take less than 30 minutes to mow with a regular non-self-propelled push mower. I couldn’t figure out how he had enough room to make a turn on the thing.

  86. OT–I’m in an apt with shaded deck, so have three containers: herbs (basil, tarragon, thyme), shade container (featuring a purple polka dot plant plus fuschia, lobelia, creeping jenny…last year I had a variety of lovely caladiums), sun container (rose plus several cerastium). Plus a little flowering succulent and a double begonia. I dream of having a cutting garden someday (with loads of nice-smelling peonies and cabbage/garden roses)!

    The rose is not doing well (no new growth apparent)–any tips?

  87. Denver Dad, I was surprised by your half-an-hour to mow a quarter acre estimate, until I realized your grass is probably neither wet nor heavy. Part of the reason for a garden tractor here is how wet and heavy our grass is during the mowing season- the push mower bogs down and, if you don’t mow very slowly, chokes out. We have just over half an acre to mow.

  88. I would never offer medical advice on an anonymous forum, but there is a lot of re-thinking strep treatment going on. It is absolutely the standard of care to treat strep with antibiotics right now, but no one can really offer proof that it does much good. Nobody has rheumatic heart disease anymore, even though there is certainly lots of untreated strep. Obviously, people get better without antibiotics, or we wouldn’t survive as a species. Do what works for you, but I don’t take my kids into get checked for sore throat and fever…

    Here’s a link: that kind of proves my point.

  89. “Early differential diagnosis between viral and GAS pharyngitis, by means of a ‘rapid antigen detection test’ (RADT) and/or a throat culture, is therefore needed if ‘pro treatment’ guidelines are used.”

    Ada – what’s interesting to me is how often the rapid test comes back negative, but they always prescribe amoxicillin anyway. In the past, they have told me “well, it can be a false negative, and why make your child suffer waiting for a positive culture?”

    This time, at the walk-in urgent care, the doctor said “yeah, the rapid is negative, but there’s exposure from sibling, sudden fever, chills, and sore throat. If it walks like a duck… I’d rather treat it. Do you have a concern or objection to that?”

    And I said “No, I don’t have an objection. Just curious though, what is the likelihood of a false negative on the rapid test?”

    And he looked at me with a very curious expression of “nobody ever asks stuff like this–who is this guy?” and he responded “actually, well, I really don’t know. But anyway, what pharmacy do you use…”

    Why bother doing the test if the course of action will be the same regardless of the outcome? I think that in many of our professions, we slip into habits of the accepted norms for the ways the group thinks and acts and makes decisions, and there’s not nearly the degree of independent thought and critical analysis that one might imagine, at least not until something forces a disruption in those norms. This is probably true of finance, certainly medicine, government, engineering, maybe even climate science ;) ? These are all reinforced by a system in which, if you break from the crowd and are not proven right with overwhelming evidence (like in finance, right, but too far ahead of your time I’m seeing a stock overvalued; or in medicine, a patient gets rheumatic heart disease and you didn’t prescribe abx), you will be punished severely; in these communities it’s safer to be wrong as long as you followed the protocol.

  90. Milo,

    Good point. I just read The Greatest Trade about John Paulson’s bet against the mortgage market. In it they also detail the story of a trader at Deutsche Bank who fought hard inside the bank to hedge their exposure and as a result saved them from hudge losses, bailouts, etc. Hailed as a hero? No. They tried to screw him out of his bonus and IIRC he left the bank. Even being proved right – the folks in charge were mad at having been proven wrong.

  91. Milo – our pedi says that about 1 in 5 negative rapid end up being positive. Ours won’t give an Rx until there is an actual positive, though.

    Ada – that is interesting. I thought some kids in developing countries got rheumatic fever (presumably from lack of antibiotics)? It is the only time our pedi will generally give antibiotic. They declare everything else a virus.

  92. It seems that when my kids get strep, they don’t complain much about a sore throat, or say it maybe hurts a little.

    I don’t get it nearly as often, but when I do, holy Hell, it’s been some of the worst pain I’ve ever had. And a couple years ago, I went through three different types of antibiotics before anything worked (or it went away). I kept going back, and I mentioned how bad it hurt, and the dr. or PA said “there’s no reason to live with pain,” and she gave me a Vicodin prescription. Heaven, absolute Heaven. An nurse practicioner FB friend commented “That’s a hell of a throat lozenge.”

    So I get this same severity of sore throat about a year later, and I’m at the same walk-in clinic, and I mention to a different doctor that the pain is so bad, the only thing that helped it last year was Vicodin, and it was prescribed by this location. And he eyes me very suspiciously thinking “Is this one of those high-functioning narcotics addicts?” I knew what he was thinking, and I said “I promise this is legitimate.” He did agree to give me the Vicodin prescription.

  93. Oh, and DW recently organized the kitchen, partly to get rid of extra stuff that we don’t need and get rid of a lot of the kids’ plates and cups. We also organized the medicine cabinet, and it looks much better now. All the ointments and bandages are consolidated. We also realized that, from various ailments and procedures, we’ve built up a nice stash of narcotic painkillers that we’ll keep in ready reserve. We have a couple bottles of Vicodin and one Tylenol with Codeine. I feel like a scofflaw.

  94. “The one thing I never want in my backyard is a pool.” — Me too. Not just the maintenance, the bugs. Did I mention I hate bugs? Our club a mile away has much better pest control, which I gratefully accept under my don’t-ask, don’t-tell policy.

    @Milo: My kids got strep fairly frequently, but almost never in the traditional way (DD’s first time was initially diagnosed as asthma, for ex., until the swab came back positive). So maybe your kids don’t complain so much because their throats just don’t hurt as bad as yours. I’m more in your boat — it always hits my throat, and it’s horrible, and it’s the only thing that feels like that. Last time I had strep, I woke up one morning and I just knew it was coming. I ran to the doc, who gave me the mental eye-roll, because none of the visible signs were there yet; but one of my kids had it and we were about to leave on a trip, so he ran the test, and was shocked when it was positive. But I’ve only ever had one thing that generated *that* particular feeling.

    Good luck with the kiddos. That sucks.

  95. “The one thing I never want in my backyard is a pool.” — Me too.

    You’re all worse than Hitler.

  96. I had a terrible strep throat infection that started on our cruise 2 years ago. I went to the ship’s doc when I had a sudden fever and painful sore throat, and he gave me whatever antibiotics he had on ship – Z-pak I think. But it didn’t get better and I was really miserable on the flights home. Drove straight to urgent care and ended up on prednisone to reduce the swelling, an even stronger antibiotic (don’t remember what, but it was really expensive), and prescription-strength couch syrup. Then, of course, I ended up with every woman’s favorite side-effect of antibiotics, plus a yeast infection on my skin. The trip was great, but that bout of illness always clouds the memory for me.

    @Sheep Farmer – You’re correct about my Southside upbringing, but now I’m wondering what I’ve said to make it so obvious! I think maybe I mentioned the county I grew up in sometime when we were talking about school systems.

  97. SWVA,

    So…he kills them rather than just fixing them? How does this make sense to people?

  98. Thank you SWVA – that is the funniest/saddest thing I’ve read all week!

    The sad part is I know people who take Robertson and his ilk as gospel truth. And would probably say exactly what Robertson did.

  99. I would like to live in an area that has a neighborhood pool. Or, like my family member’s vacation home – 6 or so houses share a pool. Someone is hired to take care of everything and it is never crowded. Having a pool is like having a boat. I will never do it again.

  100. Cat S – come on down ! My area is one where all the big developments usually have a neighborhood pool at the least. Some neighborhoods get a little fancier with their swim and tennis clubs. It is usually a short walk/drive from home, has lifeguards, a snack bar and a club house. Lots of people with kids spend time at these pools.

  101. Wanted to add that the neighborhood pools have enough of people for a party atmosphere but are not mobbed.

  102. Landscaping/gardening is my nemesis. I love a beautifully landscaped yard and garden (my ideal is the cottage look, with lots of full flowers and bushes) but I have less than zero interest in the actual process itself. Over the past 2 years I’ve really forced myself to focus on the front of our house, and it’s gone from embarrassing – full of half dead azaleas – to acceptable but still a ways to go to beautiful. I’ve found that landscaping is like home decorating, can’t be all done at one time. But if I focus on a just a few plantings or sections every few months, we actually make some progress.

    I do have tomatoes, basil, mint, and rosemary planted in the back. The tomatoes bloomed early and were the most amazing we’ve had in years, but now I’m afraid they wore themselves out as we have no more buds coming. The mint mocks me with its ability to defy my neglect, and the basil putters along but not enthusiastically.

  103. Louise – I am jealous. We don’t have any neighborhoods like that around here. Very few HOAs, too.

  104. My kids haven’t ever complained of the sore throat and I haven’t brought them in for any. For them it’s invariably an ear infection. In college I used to regularly get the kind of strep Laura and Milo are talking about. I felt the sore throat come on once before a 3 day weekend. The student medical center closed for all those days and I felt like going to the ER would have been overkill. By the time they reopened for urgent care the discussion was down to narcotics and water or iv fluids before they’d consider sending me home, and I spent a couple days delirious. After that I became that woman who goes to the doctor with the first twinge of sore throat.

  105. I think one factor in how readily a provider gives out antibiotics is how much of their salary depends on patient satisfaction. Nothing pisses people off more than coming into urgent care or the ER (especially in the middle of the night) and be told there is nothing that needs to be done other than some ibuprofen.

  106. A couple of other data points about strep – about 5-10% of the population carries strep in their throat, which means they will always have a positive culture.

    Steroids for strep throat (i.e. the prednisone that someone mentioned about) is probably and underused medication that shortens duration of illness (whether viral or bacterial) with less side effect than antibiotics.

  107. Denver Dad, I was surprised by your half-an-hour to mow a quarter acre estimate, until I realized your grass is probably neither wet nor heavy. Part of the reason for a garden tractor here is how wet and heavy our grass is during the mowing season- the push mower bogs down and, if you don’t mow very slowly, chokes out. We have just over half an acre to mow.

    The lot sizes are about 1/4 acre, so subtract out the house from that, and most have a patio or deck as well. So you’re not mowing 1/4 acre. And yes, our grass is usually pretty dry, although this year is an exception because we’ve been getting a ton of rain the last two months.

  108. Why bother doing the test if the course of action will be the same regardless of the outcome? I think that in many of our professions, we slip into habits of the accepted norms for the ways the group thinks and acts and makes decisions, and there’s not nearly the degree of independent thought and critical analysis that one might imagine, at least not until something forces a disruption in those norms. This is probably true of finance, certainly medicine, government, engineering, maybe even climate science ;) ? These are all reinforced by a system in which, if you break from the crowd and are not proven right with overwhelming evidence (like in finance, right, but too far ahead of your time I’m seeing a stock overvalued; or in medicine, a patient gets rheumatic heart disease and you didn’t prescribe abx), you will be punished severely; in these communities it’s safer to be wrong as long as you followed the protocol.

    If you get sued for malpractice, you have a much better chance of winning if you can show you followed the standard protocols. If you didn’t, then you need to justify why, and that is much more difficult to support.

  109. I think one factor in how readily a provider gives out antibiotics is how much of their salary depends on patient satisfaction. Nothing pisses people off more than coming into urgent care or the ER (especially in the middle of the night) and be told there is nothing that needs to be done other than some ibuprofen.

    Absolutely. One MD I worked with a bit in urgent care said he’d like to see the head of the AMA (and all the other policymakers who keep telling providers to stop giving antibiotics in these situations) to actually spend a couple of days working in urgent care or primary care, and see how long they could hold out on giving patients what they want.

    It’s even worse with the ones going from dr to dr trying to get painkillers. If remibursement is based on patient satisfaction, you’re incentivizing providers to give narcotics to people who clearly don’t need them.

  110. I can see the public health issue with prescribing antibiotics when conditions do not call for it.

    It’s less clear to me why it can be so hard for someone in pain to get prescribed painkillers.

  111. The remedy for the antibiotic problem is to let doctors be sued for prescribing antibiotics when none are necessary.

  112. A parent – it would be impossible in most situations to retroactively decide that no antibiotics were necessary. Additionally, to prove malpractice, you have to prove that there are damages. So, if somebody gets clindamycin for a sore throat and ends up with c.diff colitis (an potentially lethal, increasingly difficulty to treat antibiotic related infection), how to you ever prove that they didn’t need the clindamycin for the sore throat? Significant damages are going to be one in a hundred, so if a doctor writes 1000 antibiotic prescriptions in a year and has 10 significant bad side effects, can they expect 10 lawsuits? 100 lawsuits if you include the people who needed to have a repeat visit due to a minor side effect? And what about the public health implication (which is far more of an issue than the individual morbidity)? Next time a baby dies of a hospital acquired drug-resistant infection related to antibiotics use in the community, can the parents just sue all the urgent care providers in a 10 mile radius.

    I can’t think of a single medical issue where “sue the doctors more” ever solved anything.

  113. It seems like vaccinations and unnecessary prescription of antibiotics are sort of opposite sides of the coin. I’m wondering if there is a correlation between doctors that are unwilling to prescribe antibiotics with the knowledge that they are highly likely not to do any good, and doctors who are unwilling to treat patients who refuse vaccinations. And why not prescribe steroids if the test indicates it’s viral?

    Or perhaps what sort of correlation there is between parents who refuse to have their kids vaccinated, and those who insist on antibiotics even if indications are the problem is viral.

    I also wonder why doctors would bother with a test if the treatment is the same either way.

    I’m glad our pediatrician is on the same page as DW and I, and only prescribes antibiotics if he has reason to believe the problem is bacterial, and is willing to wait and see if it’s not clear if it’s bacterial or viral.

  114. It’s less clear to me why it can be so hard for someone in pain to get prescribed painkillers.

    Because there are a lot of people who are not actually in pain who try to get them because either they are addicted, or they want to sell them to people who are addicted.

  115. Or perhaps what sort of correlation there is between parents who refuse to have their kids vaccinated, and those who insist on antibiotics even if indications are the problem is viral.

    I would bet the correlation is that anti-vaxers are less likely to want antibiotics.

  116. I don’t think good doctors don’t do tests when it won’t affect treatment – but not everyone is as good as I am :)

    DD is right about the painkillers. Misuse of prescription narcotics has become a public health scourge much bigger than misuse of antibiotics. The solution that we are now working on (making it very difficult to get prescription narcotics) seems to be backfiring as there is a good substitution available for much cheaper (heroin). So the naughty teens who were using Grandma’s vicodin are now smoking heroin. In my area, the price of narcotics on the street has increased substantially over the past 10 years, while the cost of heroin is decreasing. I don’t have a magic answer for that, but if I did, it probably involves foreign policy.

    I’m with Finn – the non-vaxxers seem to want antibiotics for their kids more than others (though clearly there is a selection bias – the non-vaxxers who don’t want antibiotics probably don’t visit me so often). I think (in some cases) people who don’t vaccinate their children think they can navigate the “evidence” better than I can – therefore they want to call the shots on what treatment should be provided.

    After last night’s shift, my kids just lost their chance to ever get a trampoline (and I was weakening on my stance)…

  117. (though clearly there is a selection bias – the non-vaxxers who don’t want antibiotics probably don’t visit me so often)

    Right – you only see the parents (non-vaxers and vaxers) who want antibiotics. Parents who don’t want antibiotics don’t take their kids to the ER for ear infections and colds.

    After last night’s shift, my kids just lost their chance to ever get a trampoline (and I was weakening on my stance)…

    Get one with a net. We had one for years and nobody got hurt. I would never get one without a net, though.

  118. The commonality between many non-vaxxers and many of those who want antibiotics for everything is self-centeredness.

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