Feeling Herbicidal

I did something today that I never wanted to do — ordered an herbicide to kill off the Bermuda grass that’s taking over my lawn and choking my new lawn to death. The lawn isn’t really new anymore — it’s ten months old — but in places it’s really regressing, and I want to try to rescue as much as I can.

If I can.

The two biggest areas of grass are doing well, probably because most of the weeds had been dug up beforehand. I’d dug the weeds out of one section, and the people who did some of the rock work around the house dug up the other area almost by accident, but it turned out to be a good thing. The problem arises in those areas where the sod was laid over existing weeds. I remember asking if we should dig up the weeds but was told there was some sort of weed barrier to keep the weedy grasses from working their way to the top of the new sod, but apparently, that wasn’t true.

So, now a large swath of my cold-weather grass has been eaten by the warm-weather Bermuda grass. I’m hoping that the herbicide — which is specifically geared to this very situation — will help. Then I can simply reseed the lawn in those areas. If it doesn’t work, I’ll have to dig up the Bermuda grass and then reseed my lawn.

So not my idea of fun!

I could, of course, let nature take its course, but then I will end up how I started — with Bermuda grass and lots of weeds. What will be working in my favor is that the weather will cool down eventually, the Bermuda grass will go dormant, and the cool-season grasses will (with any luck) take hold again.

It’s for this very reason (the complications of having a lawn) that I considered putting in a wildflower field instead of a lawn, but if the area where I did plant wildflowers is anything to go by, that sort of yard is just as problematic. Grass and weeds grow thickly among the wildflowers. I manage to keep the places I can reach looking okay — or at least I did until I all but gave up when the weeds overtook my ability to deal with them — but so much of the wildflower area is beyond arm reach.

It looks as if I will be doing a lot of digging to clear out as many weeds as possible this fall, though as I have learned, they will simply grow back. The weeds, especially the weedy grasses, are just too well-entrenched, which is why, as much as it goes against my nature, I ordered the herbicide.

Just because I ordered the grass killer, though, doesn’t mean I will use it. I guess it depends how herbicidal I feel when I receive it. Today, I wouldn’t have a problem using it. I went outside to get a photo of the brown swath mixed with Bermuda grass across the path from the pretty green area where the lawn is doing well to show what I’m talking about, and I couldn’t take the picture. It just looked too pathetic and made me feel sad and herbicidal. Instead, I’m using a photo of my zinnias to accompany this post and add a bit of cheer.


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Garden Dreams

The tenant in the house next door told me that when he looks back on this time in his life, he will always remember me with a shovel. That’s a fair assessment. When I look back on this time, I’ll also remember me with a shovel. I must have dug a ton or two of dirt, removing weeds and grass from what I hope will one day be a mini wildflower meadow.

You’d think after all those weeks and all that effort, I’d be glad to hang up my shovel (literally, hang it up — my long-handled tools are hung on a rack on the wall of my garage), but apparently not.

I got a notice that one of the bulb collections I ordered will be here in a couple of weeks. The place where I want to put them was once part of a graveled driveway. I figured it would take me a while to dig through all that gravel to get deep enough for tulips and daffodils, so I decided to get a head start on the project. It did take a while, but now I’m ready for those bulbs whenever they get here.

Still not completely fed up with shoveling, I’ve spent the last couple of days digging up more weeds. Although this property isn’t particularly wide, it’s long, and hasn’t been taken care of, so there are a lot of weeds to dig up. I cheated in the spring and early summer and simply mowed them down, so I made use of this gorgeous weather to dig up the roots of some of those weeds. Luckily, a lot of the worst areas for weeds are now covered by weed barrier fabric and rock, though I’m not sure how long that will last. Although the fabric was the strongest available, grass is poking through the fabric. Come to think of it, it’s called a weed barrier, not a grass barrier, so I can’t blame false advertising for the holes in the fabric.

I’m planning on taking the day off from shoveling tomorrow, but since I have nothing else planned to take the place of the “fun,” I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself outside with a shovel again.

I’ve managed to keep enough plants alive to give me hope that one day all this work will be worth it, though it’s worth it anyway — it gets me outside, gives me something to do, and fills my head with garden dreams.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Woman Power

I had a couple of lovely surprises today. First, clouds and coolness! Instead of the sweltering temperatures that had been forecast, the high today was twenty degrees below what it’s been for the past few weeks.

I made good use of the cool morning. Along the alley, partly blocking the entrance to my garage, were tall weeds, most waist height, some shoulder height. The way the driveway was built, the apron sloped downward a bit, as it should, to keep water from backing into the garage. The problem is that the slope ends below the bed of the alley, creating a gulley that collects any rain water and makes a perfect environment for . . .  you guessed it — weeds.

All spring and summer, whenever it rained enough to soak the ground, I’d go out and pull the weeds. Even though we haven’t had much rain for weeks, those weeds still grew immensely fast and even worse, they became cemented to the ground by the dry adobe-like clay soil. I’d asked the contractor to extend the driveway, which he agreed to do, but it’s not high on his list of priorities. Meantime, the weeds kept growing. He said he’d send workers out to whack the weeds, but the guys never showed up. Another worker said he’d send “his guy” to douse the weeds with weed killer, but he never came. Also, a worker said he’d drive past with his tractor, which would clear up those weeds in a few minutes. And of course, it didn’t happen. Someone told me that the city was supposed to mow the alleys, but that never happened, either.

So, I went out there to get rid of the weeds myself. As I dug and pulled, I couldn’t help thinking that one old woman with a shovel was doing what all those powerful men with their powerful chemicals and powerful machines wouldn’t do. Yay for woman power!

Once I cleared the weeds away from the driveway, I continued to dig up the weeds along the whole width of my property, a total of 150 square feet of tree-like weeds. Ouch. And I do mean ouch. I was out there for four hours and am stiff and sore from my shoulders to the soles of my feet.

But all those weeds are gone.

At least for now.

I’m sure they will grow back, but perhaps by that time, there will be some progress made on extending the driveway another two or three feet and filling in the gulley.

I also started removing the dead bindweed from the chain link fence. I wish there was a quick way to do that. The weed wraps itself around the wire, and clearing the wire is easy but time consuming. If it’s cool enough tomorrow, maybe I’ll take a chair out there and sit and pick.

Meantime, I can enjoy my other surprise. The New England aster are beginning to bloom! After their season, I’ll need to transplant some of them. Where once I had one plant, I now have five, and I’d like to spread them out.

Luckily, that can wait another couple of months. At the moment, I’m too tired to even lift the shovel let alone dig a small hole.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.