Now that you’ve killed your lawn…

Ha ha – somebody typed into the search engines – “I killed my lawn now what…”

Good question! 

Right now, my yard is about half black plastic and half weeds. My lawn has completely given itself over to sticker weeds, I watched it happen over the last couple of years of drought. From my upstairs kitchen window, you can see, there’s about a square foot of shiny green “fescue” left out there, drowning in a sea of barrel clover, scissor weeds and that damned wild parsley. Then there’s these yellow flower stickers, I don’t know what they are, but that adorable yellow flower turns into one of the horniest little burrs you have ever trapped between your flip flop and your foot.  I don’t even wear sandals anymore, but they manage to get in my shoes and dig into my socks.

My husband’s mowing jeans are laid over a chair downstairs. They could go to a lab, where I’m sure every noxious weed known to the Cattleman’s Association is represented very well.

Wow, get a load of that – crab grass is toxic to cattle, learn something new every day!

I like crabgrass for a lawn, it’s not as pretty as the fescues but easier to maintain. Unfortunately, it doesn’t grow half as fast as the sticker weeds. In fact, sticker weeds will kill a crab grass lawn as fast as your spendy fescue lawn. They just move in, get big, and essentially smother other plants.  I think they need even less water than crab grass to stay alive too.

So, I am afraid to pick up my black tarps, I don’t really know what to do with all that dirt. I’m afraid as soon as I take the tarps, the weeds will move in. When I picked up a section the other day, I found yellow strings of crab grass under there, but I don’t believe it would spread as fast as the stickers. What to do, what to do…

My favorite way to do things is start small. I’m still working on the section where the plastic just rotted to bits and left me hanging. We planted four little trees in a spot right outside our front door, I figure I’ll work around those little trees for a while before I move any more plastic.

I need a plant that can stand up to hot sun. I love echinacea but the gophers love it too, they eat it so fast, they can wipe out a whole bed in an hour or less. Last time I had my echinacea in the ground, I came out just in time to save the last plant, they had dragged all the others under, the flowers left sticking out of the hole! I ripped that last plant out of the ground and put it in a pot, where it became the mother of legions. Now I have four big pots filling up fast, time to transplant. 

Put them in the ground, naked? Hell no! I still have that stack of tree pots we got from craigslist. They are tall skinny plastic pots, this guy had saved a bunch, we bought the whole stack for 10 bucks. Last year I tried to adapt them into strawberry pots, and they were okay, but they have gotten so rotten it’s hard to work with them. They lasted one summer and buy the time the plants were spent the pot was falling apart. 

The sun does that to our skin too, remember to wear a hat!

So, I will try to make gopher baskets out of them.  Last year when I went out shopping for stuff to grow lettuce, I saw these chicken wire baskets they sell for gopher protection, but sheesh, they were too expensive for old lady flowers.  Instead I will dig some shallow holes and set these old pots in the ground, cut off the excess top with my box cutter, and put some nice dirt in them for my little echinacea plants.  By the time they rot, the plants should be sufficiently grown to withstand an attack, at least long enough for me to get my Black Hole trap in there.

Safe for us, not safe for gophers! I hate to play hard ball, but those friggin rodents just won’t stop sometimes. 

I think this project is going to work out, I’ll try to get some pictures once I get it going.

I would also like to get more bark and gravel. I just graveled along the driveway at one of our rentals, it had  been a weed mess for year after year, a hot spot where nothing else would grow, and the neighbor’s dog had recently turned it into a minefield for the unwary person stepping out of their car.  We got some ginchee blue road base over at that yard on East 20th Street, now the driveway looks so much bigger.  I notice, neighbor’s dog doesn’t like to poop on gravel,  and now we can just give it a quick blast with the blower once in a while to keep it looking very spectacular. 

But that stuff is expensive, that little section of gravel – about two feet by eight feet, about three or four inches deep – cost about $50. We lined it with some of our black  plastic tarp, that saved some money. And, it’s a good investment, right along the fence, it will last a long time. I’m sure the neighbors’ appreciate it, they have to look at that section as they drive in and out to their houses.

We aren’t killing all our lawn, we’re trying to save good grass around our bigger trees, where the shade makes it easier to grow a good lawn. Lawns are nice for animals – don’t you love picking up dog poop off your expensive bark folks? Lawns are nice for kids – don’t you love picking that bark off your kids’ socks? Watching them stop every few steps to take a piece of gravel out of their shoes? Yeah, lawns still have their place – for one thing, they give the rain some where to go besides flooding the streets. If my property were developed this year, I predict there would be a lot more flooding in my neighborhood in the next rain year. 

People on Vallombrosa are losing street trees because the city of Chico has done nothing to improve drainage in that area as they’ve permitted whole subdivisions in back yards  throughout that side of the creek. Within sight of my house there have been two backyards subdivided, one with three tiny houses, one with eight houses, none of them with any yard. They were allowed variances to set backs so they are piled right up on each other, surrounded by asphalt, their rain gutters pouring like faucets during that last storm.  All that water has to go somewhere. 

On Vallombrosa you can see where a bridge is collapsing over a drain pipe. We drove out during the storm to the grocery store and watched cars hit that puddle and swerve, at just 35 mph. 

City of Chico doesn’t seem to think they are responsible for the city streets! They just had a piece on the news about how they shovel wet tar and asphalt into pot holes – but the worker on the news even called this a “band aid approach,” remarking that these streets need to be resurfaced. The city doesn’t have any money in the streets fund, they’ve “cost allocated” it to other funds to pay salaries, benefits and pension for $taffers who pay as little as 4 percent, and no more than 12.

My friend Pete who works at Safeway was complaining to me recently that the city “doesn’t do street maintenance anymore.” I know I’m not the only old crank out there who notices we don’t really get anything for our taxpayer dollar anymore, even though we keep throwing more dollars at the problem. 

At some point, something will have to snap, Chicoans will start to demand more. We’ll see how long that takes.





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