The yard in question is not a vast acreage running off to some misty river bottom. It is not even a monotonous quarter-acre lot stamped out of the surrounding suburban sprawl. It is about the same square footage as a child’s bedroom, but like a child can be, it is trouble out of all proportion to its size.
The first decision that had to be made, after the Cultivator of Doom had reduced the yard to bare, crumbled earth, was what replacement could be found for the pureed weeds? The author had no idea. He’s not much for horticulture. His reputation as a font of general knowledge suffers when forced outside. Sometimes he’s asked to identify a kind of flower by a passerby. He can usually tell its color.
“Blue,” he replies. “It’s a blue flower.” This generally closes out the subject.
It was his S.O., who holds an advanced academic degree but is equally unschooled in botany, who proposed the yard be inoculated with Korean grass. “You don’t have to mow it,” she said. The author was sold immediately. He went to his local nursery and found some flats of Korean grass. It was beautifully green, tough and fibrous, seemingly eager to grow, spread and conquer any patch of earth to which it might be transplanted. The nursery lady who sold this writer the grass made several broad statements regarding the sterling qualities of Korean grass, the most memorable of which was “It will spread out and cover the whole yard quickly if you plant a few clumps.”
Maybe in Korea it will. In California, it doesn’t spread out any faster than the San Andreas Fault. Clumps were planted, and clumps they remain, some of them still green, some having turned a discouraging brown, some combining both colors in a piebald attempt to retain a hold on life.
In the meantime, the portions of the yard that were not occupied by Korean grass were soon re-colonized by weeds. After several caustic observations by the S.O., the gist of which was that the condo yard now looked worse than it had when this reporter had first compared its appearance to ordure, the author bought a bottle of weed killer. This chemical did not kill any weeds. In fact the author’s crabgrass seemed brighter and perkier and far more ready to boogie after its application than before it, so he returned it to the hardware store with the suggestion that it be re-named Weed Morale Booster.
Back in the seventies, a dimly–remembered decade for this writer personally, people were encouraged to talk to their plants. Nowadays it seems like a profoundly silly idea. If anything, people in this century would text their plants. Even back then, this writer did not indulge in the practice of conversing with the few plants he had. What was there to say? “Good to see you’re still alive after getting knocked over at that last party?” Or “Thanks for letting all my friends put their cigarettes out in your pot?”
But he talks to plants now, after buying a new bottle of weed killer that the hardware store assured him will kill anything, including the dog and himself if misapplied. As he squirts the deadly toxin at his weeds he repeats over and over, “Die, you little intercoursers. Die now.”
So far they’ve ignored his advice. The Korean grass continues to dwindle, not spread and as this gardener looks at it, discouraged, he wonders how something that is so obviously small, weak and internally dying can inspire such fear and repugnance.
Then it strikes him—IT’S NORTH KOREAN GRASS.
I got the Axis of Evil runnin’ through my yard. Write a song about that, Tom Petty.