Yard Work is Never Done; It Just Fades Away

Our back yard looks like a bad comb-over this time of year. Winter storm damage has left hundreds of twigs and sticks that have to be picked up, tied and then hauled to the recycling center. Smaller ones get crushed and shoved in a brown sack. It’s like trying to bag a forest. I would just as soon let the back yard take itself back again and let the junipers spread their skirts all the way up the hill. They’re doing it anyway.

We used to fertilize the lawn to make the grass grow better and greener, but I learned about what it does to the water and the land so that was the end of that. Ken says our lawn looks scrappy but I say it looks the way it’s supposed to look; we live in mountain terrain, not a verdant valley. Besides, it’s nice to know kids can cut through the yard on their way home from getting off the school bus, and critters can scamper from tree to tree, bunnies can nibble on the plantain without their insides getting shriveled. You will never see a container of Roundup in my shed. It is as important to me as my marriage vows.

I have spent hundreds of hours over the years crawling over the yard flipping out weeds but leave the dandelions because I don’t have the heart to throw away their cheerful faces. When Ken isn’t looking, I blow their silky seed heads into the grass for next year’s crop. Besides, I admire their tenacity. I believe in dandelions.

Hundreds of hours have been spent pulling up the leggy vines of gill-over-the-ground, the bane of landscapers and almost impossible to eradicate even with the most noxious of herbicides. I started pulling them up by grabbing the leafy heads and teasing the vine up through the matt of last year’s dead grass until long spaghetti strands of vines filled my bucket. But as I crawled over the ground plucking stems and threads, I noticed all the earthworms that were being pulled up with them. They seemed to be using the vines like little wormy highways. The soil around the vines was becoming dark and soft and loamy as if the plant is functioning as a kind worm enabler. Who knows?


My frenetic activity keeps up until the middle of April, until the day suddenly arrives when I am sick of the whole thing and hang the rake up for good whether it’s finished or not. Odd that it happens to coincide when the warblers are returning and the song of the Oriole is heard in the land….

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This entry was posted in dandelions, fertilizer, grass, Roundup, yard work. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Yard Work is Never Done; It Just Fades Away

  1. I am glad to know I'm not the only one who works until I can't resist the call of birds, nature walks and bike rides. At least until the lawn needs mowed again.
    I love seeing the yard wake up.

  2. Weeds are the bane of my existence. It's a losing battle though. I think weeds should be declared lovely flowers then we wouldn't have all that work of pulling them out and waiting for them to reappear and start the process all over again.

  3. cynmccune says:

    Here, the dread weed is Oxalis. This unassuming shamrock lookalike, with the cute little yellow blooms, spreads by seed, bulblet, root and rhizome. That makes it pretty much impossible to eradicate.

    I've sprayed it, pulled it and dug out and discarded big chunks of Oxalis-contaminated soil … all to no avail. You can never get it all, so it always comes back.

    I wish you better luck with your gill-over-the-ground vine … or an early arrival of warblers, so you can forget about it.

  4. Judy Thomas says:

    Here in Virginia (where this Jersey girl was transplanted), we have several invasives, mostly the dreaded violet that colonizes large swathes of ground. I garden organically, so no spraying here (plus, we live in a watershed). We just co-exist- I grub it out of the flower beds when it gets pushy, and mow it otherwise. One benefit- a purple “lawn.” BTW, we too have no “lawn,” just a collection of mowable weeds!
    Nice blog! Come visit my organic gardening blog at http://www.cvog.blogspot.com

  5. dlg says:

    Applause, applause! My dad has sold lawn & garden products all his life, so I grew up in the house with the most gorgeous lawn in the neighborhood. Standard chores included spraying, weeding, raking, and bagging, and while I loved the excuse to be outdoors, it never seemed worth the effort. For me, nothing says “spring” more than the sight of violets pushing their way up through winter's debris…or dandelions-gone-to-seed caught by a warm breeze.

  6. Wendy says:

    This time of year my yard actually looks better than it does all the rest of the year. The grass looks full and healthy. The lawn weeds haven't fully taken over yet. But I struggle day after day as well, until I decide there are better ways to spend my day. 🙂

  7. Chris Petrak says:

    I share you sentiments about dandelions – I like them too. But then I like whatever is green. Spring comes to Vermont much later and that has made me reevaluate many of my spring tasks, because like you said, the warblers will be coming soon … soon … soon!

  8. Oh, through it all, your bleeding hearts are just big and beautiful! My mom's favorite.

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