This particular article was the first I wrote for the, “Laments of the Gardener’s Husband,” series. I had always dreamed of writing a, “Gardening for People Who Hate Gardening,” type book. Like all the articles I wrote for this series, it is very much based in fact. Basically, the articles use a new literary style known in the non-writer’s world as, “bitching.” Many writers consider this a high art form. I may not be an expert at it, but I’m pretty damned good, if I must say so myself.
It was a hot and muggy morning, and I had just finished mowing the front lawn. This is an easy and mindless enough task, and as I passed from the front yard to the back, I took advantage of the trip to let the mower take a whack at the crabgrass growing out of the cracks in our driveway. The driveway was now about thirty percent green by this point, and I felt the least I could do was attempt to keep the weeds growing at a decent height.
It did not work, of course. Crabgrass grows wide and flat, and despite my labors, my efforts were little more effective then a barber trying to cut a man’s hair with a ceiling fan.
“I really suppose it’s time I do something about this,” I thought.
I should explain that, at our home, our driveway doubles in function as our deck. We live in a middle-class, residential neighborhood, and our dwelling, which charitably could be called a “starter home,” does not have a capacious back yard. My wife is a frantic gardener, and has filled the small space with everything from roses to raspberries–from sage to sunflowers. Additionally, at her urging, she encouraged me to dig a small pond near the house, which she reminded me, repeatedly, that was something that I always wanted.
Therefore, due of a lack of space, our deck furniture rests in our driveway, with great, healthy mounds of crabgrass growing beneath it.
While my wife loves gardening, my personal attraction to the hobby goes no further then trimming the weeds just enough to keep the neighbors from lynching me. Still, I like eating on our deck, such as it is, and I have to admit that crabgrass, while tenacious and resourceful, is not overly attractive and should be probably be eliminated.
This was not my first attempt to deal with the problem. The previous year I had purchased some monstrously expensive stuff for filling the driveway cracks. Crabgrass admittedly does not grow where I applied this compound, but an even more enthusiastic weed with little round leaves has found a couple of places within it to make a homestead.
And the year before that, I had done some Internet research and went outside armed with a spray bottle of vinegar. This action was reasonably effective, and I was able to repeat my treatments twice before recoiling at the brink of tears at the thought of ever having to do it again.
The problem is that applying the vinegar with a small spray bottle to forty feet of driveway is tedious, backbreaking work. Also, one doesn’t just spray the stuff and watch the weedy little bastards scream in pain and die. It took days before the grass’ healthy, green tufts even assumed the brownish sheen that characterizes the grass on most of the rest of our lawn.
I like instant gratification. My ideal solution to most weeding issues would involve Agent Orange, napalm, and a blowtorch. Additionally, plutonium, while outrageously expensive and hard to find in gardening supply stores outside of former Soviet block countries, would likely be ideal in assuring that the stuff would never grow back.
Unfortunately, I dislike being attacked by mutant birds and squirrels as much as the next man. Additionally, I don’t relish the idea of having to wear an isolation suit in order to enjoy my deck, such as it is. So, it was with little optimism that I went to the local gardening store in search of an alternative solution.
“I have crabgrass in my driveway. I’d like it to die and never come back.”
The gardening lady suggested vinegar. I was polite and did not throttle her.
“I’m thinking something more permanent and dangerously lethal. What else could you suggest?”
Gardening people have this disdainful way of looking at people like me. They really can’t understand the thinking of the non-gardener. Gardening people are the kind of people who appreciate dirt, and are in the profession because they love to garden and can’t imagine life without it.
Dirt however does not spend a lot of time mucking up my imagination. I prefer to let dirt rest in its chosen spot. Live and let live, so to speak.
To some gardeners, this makes me the enemy, and I don’t feel this is fair. I like gardens; I really do. I don’t even mind the concept of organic gardening. I just wish there were ways of doing it that did not involve the need for periodic intensive chiropractic help.
I love my wife far more than I dislike gardening, however. So I desperately wanted some sympathy and a way to kill the crabgrass that didn’t involve days of sweaty labor.
I went home with a product that the lady said was new out this spring. It promised to kill everything that doesn’t walk, crawl, or fly. I would need to reapply it yearly, so it was not as effective as plutonium would be, but sacrifices sometimes need to be made in the name of environmental safety.
The garden lady was insistent in emphasizing that we would not be able to plant anything in the area where this was applied. I was tempted to explain that we weren’t planning to plant potatoes in our driveway cracks for a least the next couple of years, but I refrained.
She also emphasized not to spray it, but to just mix it with water in a bucket and pour it into my driveway cracks with a cup. The bottle itself recommends using a watering can. This is fine. I later went out and bought one specifically for this purpose, and emblazoned it with the words “Ridiculously toxic! Do not use for anything at all!”
Additionally, the product (which, to my disappointment, was not festooned with skulls and crossbones) indicated that I should wear safety goggles and do everything short of burning my clothing to sterilize them after use.
This statement filled me with hope. While it wouldn’t be as satisfying to apply as a blowtorch would be, it was at least gratifying to know that I would, in some small measure, be taking my life into my hands when I applied it.
I went out, pulled out what crabgrass I could by hand, and applied my lethal concoction on the stubborn remains while cackling with glee.
Two days later, the stuff was dead. All of it. Instead of healthy green tufts of crabgrass jutting from every crack, I had unhealthy, dead tufts of crabgrass jutting from every crack. My fantasy of watching it crumble to dust and blow away seemed a trifle unrealistic. Even though dead, it still took hours of backbreaking work to finish off the job.
Eventually though, with enough pleading, I hope to talk my wife into letting me buy a blowtorch for things like this. With the proper tools, I really think that I can learn to enjoy this gardening stuff!