A Splendor in the Grass
March 30, 2012
It was time. Time to tackle possibly the worst job of spring time. Time to tackle my…pampas grass.
The housing developer had helpfully planted three clumps of pampas grass in my yard, which was a generous overture to be sure. Still it wasn’t long before they became banes of my existence, shedding huge spears of rough-edged leaves all over the neighborhood. Thus began my three-year mission to boldly go where no one had gone before and remove the offending weeds once and for all.
Two years ago, I managed to dig up one clump but left the other two beasties alone. One of the curs was spared because it was planted very close to the electrical junction box –In the interest of full disclosure, I did at least try to kill this particular clump, but it proved stronger than both Roundup AND stump killer -- while the other avoided harsh justice simply because I just couldn’t face it. I would swear pampas grass is a test from God, or planted by aliens so they can laugh at us from space.
Well, after a long and tenuous détente, I’d made up my mind that this would be the year I would tackle another one of my leafy foes. The clump had expanded exponentially to make up for the absence of its twin, and my first instinct was to just try and trim it. Sure, many of my neighbors use the field-expedient method of burning the dead stuff down, but this plant was too close to my house. Try explaining that one to your insurance company.
Still I couldn’t just jump into a yard project of this magnitude without ensuring certain criteria were in place. First, I’d have to pick a relatively windless day, which we all know are so rare in this area. (I’m from South Texas and before I lived here, I had no clue what "In like a lion, out like a lamb" meant. Now, I’m very familiar with the concept.) Then, I’d have to don my official pampas cutting gear: jeans, long socks, long-sleeved shirt, gloves, hat. Suitable enough clothing I guess, but only because I didn’t have a hazmat suit available.
My grand plan was to begin by tying the plant together before I cut it, which would make it easier to stuff into a bag for disposal. And so I started in right away, wrapping a bit of twine around half of the plant and then twisting to bring it in tighter together. I continued twisting for what seemed like ten minutes, until of course, perhaps inevitably, the string snapped. Wonderful.
Having been pushed to my brink, I gave up and hacked away at that stupid bush like a madwoman until it was all gone. Then I started to dig, cutting through the nasty mat of root clumps, and yanked up all of it. I chased my hideous quarry all over my yard and jammed it into bags, by last count three really big bags and four smaller ones. I was sweaty and my wrists, between my gloves and my shirt, were itching madly, but it was done. I had prevailed!
I threw it all into my car and took it down to the community compost heap where I was stunned to see a miniature mountain range, five feet high and twenty feet long composed entirely of pampas grass. Well, they say misery loves company. I was comforted to know I was not alone in my struggles. At least until I arrived home and saw its mate staring at me from afar.
Two down, one to go.
Yard troubles of your own? Why not try these lovely titles?
Platte City Branch