Monday, 12 May 2014

The Never-Ending Battle

I've been fighting a battle for almost three years.  A battle to grow and nurture something, although Mother Nature seems to have other plans.

Oh, did you think I was talking about the inside of my uterus?  My bad.  I was talking about my lawn.

Behold the majesty of my kingdom.

When M and I bought our house a few years ago, we knew that there'd be some frustrations with home ownership and maintenance.  Stuff like a roof needing repair, or an old furnace needing replacement, or just general minor crap around the house that would need upkeep.  But the lawn?  We kind of figured it would pretty much just take care of itself.  Cut it, water it occasionally, and it would be fine!  I mean, grass grows all kinds of places all on its own, without people even taking care of it, right?

Yeah.  Not so much.  

The three-pronged assault on our green space began in the backyard, where we discovered occasional dry patches that just weren't responding to our usual watering.  Turns out this is because the grass was being eaten from beneath by an infestation of disgusting fat white beetle larvae.  Since most pesticides are banned in Ontario, our only real option to get rid of them is to use nematodes, which are basically freeze-dried microscopic parasites.  You add water (think sea monkeys!) and spray them on your lawn, where they are supposed to chow down on the grubs while leaving your lawn untouched.  Great in theory, however applying them to your lawn is incredibly finicky.  You need a certain temperature range, damp soil, no sun for a couple of days, a full moon, a blood sacrifice to the Norse gods...well ok I made some of that up but it seriously felt like working a magic spell and we obviously did it wrong since we still have grubs.

Magic!

The super awesome part about having grubs is that they're just the first wave of destruction.  They spend all summer weakening your lawn's root system so that in the fall, when they're nice and fat and delicious, raccoons have no trouble at all tearing up your dead yellow grass to get at the delectable little treats.  Don't let their cute little masked faces fool you; raccoons are assholes.  They were pulling up huge strips of grass and rolling it back like demented little anti-landscapers, meaning that there were literally mornings that we would look out our window and see huge swaths of bare dirt where there had been relatively healthy grass the night before.  If he wouldn't have been arrested for animal cruelty, M would have gotten himself a BB gun and sat out there in the dark so that he could take care of the little fuckers Clint Eastwood style.


With the backyard essentially a lost cause, we at least took solace in the fact that our front lawn looked nice.  That is, until we went on vacation last year and came back to find that the pretty little blue flowers we'd seen on our lawn in the spring had been warning signs of a weed called "ground ivy" which had now overtaken pretty much the entire front yard.  Ground ivy is also called "creeping charlie" which is fitting because getting rid of this shit is like going up against the goddamn Viet Cong.

You can try to weed it by hand, but it's an exercise in futility because it's basically a vine that crawls along the surface of the soil and sets new roots every inch or so.  At each node it sends out new vines so you end up with a web of the stuff running under your grass.  The first time I tried to pull it up I ended up feeling like that scene in The Hurt Locker where Jeremy Renner (ugly? hot? I can't decide) thinks he's digging up one bomb and ends up pulling up a bunch of wires and realizing he's surrounded by bombs.

Like this, but much less explode-y

Yet again, pretty much anything that will kill this stuff is not available in Ontario.  One home remedy is to use diluted Borax, which apparently upsets the chemical composition of the ivy enough to kill it without damaging the lawn.  I have to say that I find it oddly fitting that I'll be using the same chemical that Sam and Dean used to kill the Leviathans on Supernatural (seriously, you guys still aren't watching this show??), but given our lack of success with the nematodes we'll probably just end up killing the whole lawn entirely.  Which, at this point, might be a mercy.  We should probably just light the whole thing on fire and start over.

This would be so much more satisfying.

19 comments:

  1. LOL! Raccoons are assholes! Here in California, there's a drought so water companies are pushing the fake grass pretty hard.

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    1. Fake grass? That's a thing? I may need to look into this.

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  2. Raccoons are assholes, they like to sit on our deck, which really freaks our cats out. Last year, a strong wind storm blew our tattered grill cover off the grill and we were too lazy to put in pack on. The little buggers dragged it underneath the deck to make some sort of nest. We figured they earned in and just ordered a new one. However, they are beautiful and allegedly very clean. Our garden is also a nightmare. I'm getting tired asking the question "what's your next house project?" Um.. all onn hold due to budgetary issues...

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    1. Buddy looooves the raccoons. He howls at them and chases them up trees. They are undeterred in the wee morning hours when he's sleeping, though.

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  3. I'm inCali too. I fear we are going to have dead ground cover soon. Sigh.

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  4. I wanted to comment something sort of useful but got distracted by the unicorn shirt. Although I don't know that much about gardening anyway, what with living in a big city that happens to be in a drought area... (thus, even flamethrowers are out)

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  5. "getting rid of this shit is like going up against the goddamn Viet Cong" BEST. LINE. EVER!

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  6. It sounds like you might need some artificial turf, LOL!

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  7. I'm totally anti-pesticide. Last year our brother-in-law was staying with us and I came home for lunch to find him spraying our dandelions with super heavy duty pesticides. I didn't want to start a fight with him because I knew he was trying to do something nice for us, but as I was standing there chatting with him, the wind blew the pesticide fumes my way and I felt like I could feel my reproductive capacity diminishing with each breath of fumes I inhaled. I will never forget it!

    That being said, we are only dealing with dandelions. I even asked Andino to leave them for a few weeks this year as they are the bees first food before the rest of the flowers bloom. If I were in your situation I'd probably give up and replace the grass with river rocks and then just have big pots of flowers for greenery. We had to use river rocks in our back yard because we have 2 dogs and the grass was 50% green and 50% yellow dead grass from the dog's pee!

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    1. There are a lot of beautiful yards in our area that are just rocks, perennials and various other ornamentals. Unfortunately I'm a) not enough of a green thumb to handle that and b) our yard is just a smidge too big.

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  8. We had grubs pretty bad when we moved in too, but I bought a couple ducks and they seem to be taking care of that :)

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  9. Our chickens take care of the grub population and fertilize the grass, but the asshole raccoons killed one of the chickens! I feel your pain!

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  10. This post is a much more hilarious description of our garden luck. Yes, raccoons are assholes. They used to corner us outside our dorm rooms in college, stand on their hind legs and hiss! I kill just about everything, so part of me is really sad to hear this--but I was just reading about a new study showing how all these pesticides mess with your endocrine system, so now I'm probably going to have to self ban them.

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  11. Jeremy Renner is hot. In an unconventional, semi-not-hot way. But I definitely wouldn't kick him out of bed!

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    1. I'm torn. He wears eyeliner. Google it and tell me you feel the same.

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  12. I really needed a laugh tonight, and I literally laughed out loud three times. A bonus we have here is that moles also adore grubs! Our yard is all tunneled up. Moles are assholes, too.

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  13. I hate lawns with a passion. Before I moved in with my husband (into a townhouse) I had a huge yard. I ripped up my entire front lawn and put in raised vegetable gardens. Taking care of lawns is a strange concept to me, I say rip it up and replace it with something better!

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  14. Grubs seriously suck. We had them in CT and they were so nasty. Good lick with your lawn- we had to resort to pesticides to get rid of the grubs. :-(

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  15. Wow, that's a lot of well-deserved racoon hate. Lawns should be able to grow by themselves, and you'd just have to take care of making it look great, but those grubs are certainly doing a number on you. There's no easy solution to this, other than perhaps bringing out the professionals in getting rid of them, or perhaps look into the fake grass. They've really come a long way; they hardly look fake anymore, and they don't look like they came from an old decimated Christmas tree. Either way, good luck!

    Mike Mcmillen @ Dependable Lawn Care

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I'm needy and your comments validate me. Help a sister out!