Monday, March 12, 2012

Afternoon in the Garden of Good and Evil

I always have such high hopes for the weekend: I'm going to do enough laundry to clothe my entire neighborhood, roast a duck that would make Julia Child weep salty broth, learn how to use all tools ever and build a mermaid hut in my backyard, give myself a perfect manicure, do my taxes, comfort a troubled friend over cocktails and organize every closet in my house.

But usually I end up laying on the couch watching Chopped marathons, eating bags of white cheddar popcorn and wondering why I can never seem to get anything accomplished.  

However, this weekend I decided to get off my ass and do something with actual results!! (Don't worry, Chopped. We'll see each other soon...)  I decided my adventures in woodworking can wait but my yard cannot seeing as it's summer in March and shit just got real at the ModSauce Ranch.  

I still have mistletoes (that was a typo but I like it so it's staying) in my trees but Bradford Pears, Forsythias and dogwoods are all now blooming.  WTF Mother Nature?  My sinuses are not your personal playground!

So I spent some good quality time outdoors mowing the grass and weeding my plant beds of impending disaster.  Weeds have been growing since Christmas because that's now when Spring starts in our new world of Whatever Happened to Seasons?

I ended up spending my time in one particular bed has been giving me problems this past year.  It's overrun with this low-lying weed that blankets everything.  It sends shoots straight from the Hades itself in and out of the ground in this giant web of evil.  But fuck it, I was going to show it who was Madame of this Ranch today.

After spending a few terrible minutes in the dirt I realized this hell plant sends out more unbreakable hairs of fury than I could have ever imagined.  Every hair then becomes it own shoot that sends out more hairs and more hairs in its goal of completely covering the world with its furious hairy roots kinda like the 1977 documentary Kingdom of Spiders with William Shatner.

Probably me next year.

I was digging inches - inches - into the ground and still finding these assholes in ever-increasing numbers.  
It don't need sunlight or photosynthesis to survive - it exists solely on malice and your crushed dreams of beautifully landscaped beds.  It senses and thrives on fear.  If you pull one part up or spray some with weed killer the rest just cackle in delight and dive down further below to multiply in the darkness.  

This plant is intelligent, vengeful and has no known predators animal, vegetable, mineral or human shovel.  It has evolved to make my life a living hell.  No gawd could have created such an asshole plant.  

Evolution is such a dick...*
My dirty finger for scale.  Gotta give mad props to Evolution for evilness of design.
Some of you are probably familiar with this POS plant and can surmise the result of this story but I did not because I'm super ignorant about things that happen outside of my Google reader.

Undeterred by this demon weed, I spent two hours cleaning an area that's about 2 feet square.  But damn that corner of my yard looks nice.  My fingers hurt and the rest of landscaped beds are still in desperate need of attention that I'll probably get around to giving them in a few months.

I'd already sprayed this vile thing with Round Up before and I'm still ruining my delicate angel hands trying to remove it.  I finally decided to google it because why would I do that before I started weeding?  "Devil weed that makes me wlejiwejrlwjekrjwkj" didn't pull up any results but "weed with underground web" pulls up a shit ton of things completely unrelated to gardening.  But perhaps relevant to some of your... other interests.  You might end up on an FBI list but not my problem.

Having no luck, I texted a friend who is smart about such things and he informed me - laughing - that my new arch nemesis is Bermuda grass.  

Not my yard but it looked like this times 100.  I forgot to take before pictures.  From here.
What.  The.  Fuck?  This is what people actually choose to make their entire lawn out of?  This mangy pubic grass of lawns and tract housing?  I guess people just give up - survival of the fittest and all.  

And as the very dim light bulb went off in my head, I looked around my yard and realized the weed that I had just "removed" from one of my beds is peppering my yard.  My kinda beautiful, filled with some wild onions, green green fescue yard.  I was despondent.  A single tear ran down my dirty face.

Forums said options for Bermuda grass removal included - and I quote - nuclear weapons, an atom bomb or completely removing the top two feet of dirt and starting over.  Reasonable options.  Although I bet Bermuda grass could easily evolve to survive a nuclear/zombie apocalypse.  Fucker.

According to the text transcripts from a smart person who knows about these things:

Smart Person: Fescue is a losing battle. Bermuda will choke it out... That's kind of its deal.

Me: I refuse to accept that answer! It's now a personal challenge.

Smart Person: Good luck!

Me: I'm nothing if not stupidly persistent!

Smart Person: It's a winning personality trait.

Me: Winning in everything except Bermuda grass.

Smart Person: Likely.


Despite all evidence to the contrary, I optimistically feel that I can go against experts and every person on the internet because I'm a white middle class person and I think no rules apply to me.

I stubbornly refuse to give up the dream of a beautiful lush lawn that is NOT full of the cockroach of grasses.  That dream was something I was incredibly excited about when I first decided to buy a house.  As I've slowly been taming the beast that is the inside of my house, I was hoping to soon turn my sights on bringing my yard into submission.  It WILL lick my metaphorical black vinyl boots!  (I say this every Spring.)

It's a very Southern thing as well, to have a ridiculously lush, verdant yard that makes your neighbors green with envy as they spy on you from behind your brilliant hydrangeas -  watching you fan yourself on your porch while drinking sweet tea as you admire your tamed lawn.  I might be a shitty gardener right now but I'm a good Southerner.

A yard like this is totally attainable.  Here.
But methinks that will remain a fantasy.  For now I will continue to waste my time and money fighting this battle of good and evil in the yard of broken dreams.

See the dead brown pubes back there in the back?  Fucker.
Until I decide to give up the fight in 6 months just like everyone else.

Good thing I'm taking Monday off so I can lay on my couch and watch a Chopped marathon and mourn the loss of my lustworthy lawn.

But this might cheer me up:

*I recently found a note to myself about a blog post I wanted to write but it only said "Evolution is such a dick" and I have no idea what the hell I meant...  I think it had something to do with my thighs but honestly I can't remember.  However, after today it seemed completely reasonable again.  Apparently, evolution is indeed a dick as that statement applies to multiple areas of my life.


  1. I don't know how you feel about using chemicals, but Fertilome makes a product called Over The Top that works great on removing bermuda from my flower beds...not sure how it works in a fescue lawn. Good luck!

    1. I always start out saying "No chemicals!" but quickly turns into "Drink this poison, weeds!!" Thanks for the tip, Jennifer!

  2. Hahaha! I feel your pain. I once eradicated a small lawn of Bermuda, and it was no easy task, but I did it. It involved Round Up, renting a tiller and spending a LOT of hours pulling those runners from the loose soil. Oh, and constant weeding, but after about 3 years, my new groundcover lawn had filled in and no more mowing. If you want to replace with another warm weather sod, Zoysia is good for our region. Good luck!

    1. AHA! See - it CAN be done!! You give me hope! Just takes years of constant vigilance and work. No problem.

      Happy to hear you have a lawn of your dreams now! What groundcover did you use?

    2. It was at my last house..before I moved into deerville. Our front lawn was so tiny it wasn't worth bringing the mower around, so I put in creeping jenny and hardy ferns and hardy orchids and turned the whole front yard into a flower bed that could handle a little foot traffic if I needed to go in there to weed etc...

    3. That's genius and sounds beautiful. I thought you had a big yard now so was rather confused... ; )

  3. Ugh. I battle that weed, too! I have found one thing that works, though: boiling water. Last year, I boiled a gigantic pot of water on the stove, took it outside, and--using a measuring cup--put boiling water on all the Bermuda grass I saw. Killed. It. Dead.

    You have to be careful to keep the boiling water off the plants you want, and there's no telling how many earthworms and other soil denizens I horrifically burned (Oh, God, they have feelings and personalities, according to a recently released study!), but it works.

    Best of luck!

    1. You know, I've heard about people using boiling water for other weeds a lot lately but never for Bermuda grass. Great idea. I want to kill it dead!

      Wonder if I could do that with the patches and then once it's dead just overseed the shit out of it...?? It sounds totally doable in my head.

      Let's all take a minute and bow our heads for all the wonderful worms we lost.

  4. You crack my shit UP! Very funny post, glad to hear I am not the only one with a rebelious lawn. Astro Turf: what do you think? Can we make it a trend?

    1. Rebellious lawn indeed! I'm all for an astroturf revolution. So plasticy and lush!

      Thanks, Mrs. BC. ; )

  5. I feel your pain, and your sense of ambition. I spent last weekend, and this weekend, and probably will spend next weekend next weekend pulling ivy. I think some of it is older than I am. But I will defeat it, or at least force a retreat away from my house and into the woods!

    1. IVVYYYYYYY!! Stay strong, sister! I've dealt with that too - we are keeping a truce now but as my attention strays towards the Bermuda grass it may make a move. Good luck to you!

  6. First, Your weather sounds like our normal California weather. (welcome to California) Second, as a seasoned bermuda grass fighter, one of the biggest culprits of spreading the jungle weed is the lawnmower. It picks up and cuts every blade into teeny, tiny pieces that then root, expanding the beasts fight to take over the world. (sort of like Nepoleon did). I found that covering the flower beds with 15 layers of newspaper and then covering with 4 inches of Home Depot groundcover bark did the trick. It suffocated the sucker. And I sat drinking my (unsweetened) iced tea and enjoyed the knowledge I was slowly torturing the awful weed (which is actually sold as grass) to death. Oh, it also creepes under the fence from your neighbors yard. I always keep the undiluted Roundup on hand 'cause that is what it takes to kill it. Good luck!!!

    aka, deb

    1. Well fuck, aka deb!! The damn lawnmower is yet another way that Bermuda grass has evolved into pure evil genius!! You're so smart. I'd LIKE to quit mowing my grass but my neighbors would probably complain.

      I think I might have to take your suggestion in my beds - drastic action might be needed. But I'm so happy to hear about everyone's winning (!) battles with Bermuda.

      PS - I always wanted to live/visit California so I guess this is my chance to live it up!! Seriously - it's turning into a desert here...

  7. I like bermuda grass because it's a strong savvy you. Make peace with your weed.

    1. Strong savvy survivor is right! (the grass not me although YES and thank you!) I do give Bermuda credit for being aggressive and invasive by design - it's pretty genius. But not quite ready to give up the dream of having a lush, soft welcoming yard. Sigh..

      Gimme 6 months...