Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Grass Wars

For decades Grass ruled the Yard. Its domain extended from the very foundation of the house all the way to the Back Fence, brooking no dissent from tree, shrub, or perennial. Nothing but grass, a rigid quadrilateral of uniform green, lacking only chalk yard markers, a set of goalposts, and well-heeled alumni tailgating in the driveway.

Two years ago, the New People took possession of the house. They saw the Grass and saw that it was not good. It required weekly mowing with a loud mower that ran on gasoline purchased from terrorists and greedy American oil barons. It required much water to look presentable, water that came from shallow lakes and became scarcer every year. It required annual aerating, fertilizing, and reseeding, endeavors which cost enough to buy a thicket of shrubs from the half-price table. The New People began to speak openly of rebellion.

The Grass scoffed. It was large and tough rooted; the New People were small and armed only with shovels and mulch. At the first incursion, carried out by a ragtag band of Gardenias and Tea Olives, the Grass laughed openly. "Bring 'em on," it said.

The New People were not deterred. They captured more territory and patrolled it with trowels, rooting out the sprigs sent in by the enemy to retake the land. The Grass was persistent, but the New People more so.

Still the Grass remained complacent. The New People had taken some territory at the fringes of its empire but the heartland, the center of the Yard, remained under the hegemony of Grass and all that it stood for. But one day, all that changed. On a single October Saturday, a blow was struck against the Grass that would forever alter the balance of power in the Yard.

One of the New People marched boldly into the heart of the Empire of Grass, laid out a garden hose in an oblong shape and connected this shape to a base established earlier, an outpost known as the Butterfly Garden. Then he took his shovel and commenced to dig.

He scooped up great chunks of sod, piled them into his cart, and wheeled them to his compost pile. When the pile grew too high, and there was yet more sod to deal with, he hit upon a strikingly brilliant yet simple idea. A way to use the enemy to his advantage. Surveying a section of the Yard that he had marked for later conquest, he began laying the sod face down upon the grass--killing grass with grass.

The Green Emperor watched sullenly. The meaning of this was clear. No longer would he rule the Yard unchecked. From now on, his role would be to grow in small spaces between and around the flowerbeds, nothing more than a backdrop to the shrubs and flowers that even now were cheering and tossing their leaves in celebration.


Birdscapes said...

I loved this post! For those of us who eschew the pristine lawn it is a perfect description of our struggles. The ending is brilliant! Hopefully the top and bottom grasses won't join forces and attack back. Is that a reliable method of killing the grass, or just tongue in cheek?

Happy to hear that rain is falling in NC.

David in Greensboro, NC said...

Thanks Birdscapes, That strategy does work, but it's not foolproof. You're exactly right about the top and bottom grasses "linking up" for a counterattack. To prevent that, I like to put some newspaper or cardboard down first, then put the sod on top of that, then cover the whole thing with some leaves and let it sit. (If we had any water I'd keep it good and wet too.) I've found that if you just lay the sod down by itself, the darned stuff just keeps growing.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

GO NEW PEOPLE!! It looks like He did an excellent job taking up the sod. Brilliant idea to suffocate the grass with grass. It works I've done it too. You just have to watch out for the unoppressed.

Marion in Savannah said...

YAY!!! You will prevail against the grass. I battle it daily (well, maybe weekly...) in the flower beds and raised veggie beds. It now eschews the "lawn" in order to move into the beds. I loathe the stuff.

Carol said...

Wait, the grass is not inherently bad! It's just misunderstood, maybe a bit overused. But it has its place in a garden, really it does!

(Clever post)

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

David in Greensboro, NC said...

Thanks Lisa-the recent rains made it easier.

Why, Marion, does grass seem to be happier in flowerbeds than in the lawn? That's the only place my grass grew all summer.

I knew you'd take up for the grass, Carol (: No, nothing wrong with grass, it just should not be the Emperor of the Yard. I'll keep a few small areas of grass...just for you!

Connie said...

Amusing post. :-) Best of luck on your new garden space and may the "Green Emperor" be kept in his place, and butterflies prevail!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

YAY!!!!!!!!! Sounds like the Green Emperor suffered quite a few defeats this October, in front yards from NC to OH. *grin*

An addendum to the "laying sod face down on sod" method: To help prevent resurrections, stabbing the face-down chunks repeatedly with the shovel after you lay them down helps to ensure that they are indeed dead. (I think because it breaks up root clumps.)

Or maybe it doesn't do a darn thing except make me feel as though my victory is complete. lol. Who knows!

Wrenna said...

Great post! I am proud to be one of the "new people", albeit fighting the war in a different territory.

Mary said...

If I had my wish, I would have no grass in my back yard - only pond, gardens and walkways. It would be beautiful.

But, for now, I need a large clearing from one end of the yard to the other, for the wild ball chasers that live with us. (Chloe & Bella).

Good post. Good work!

rusty in miami said...

My dog and the grass have an alliance that makes it impossible for the people to entrench on their turf

LostRoses said...

I will never eschew the pristine lawn, but you've sure made a lovely curving bed. And of course you need some grass to set off the beauty of it! Nice work.

Gloria said...

Kudos David!!!
Down with the tyranny of lawn!
Onward the march out of monotony and monoculture!
Persevere diversity and abundance!
Welcome New People...(***cheers and shouts***).