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Monday, May 5, 2008

Mother Nature May Hate Me...

...but at least my neighbors won't. And there is much, very much, to be said for being the sort of responsible neighbor at whom others on the street will smile.

For counter-example, this is the state of the yard next door to ours.

I know it's hard to see what's going on, what with the already-overgrown grass. But look closely, and you might notice the waving clumps of golden-headed glory...a.k.a. The Bane of My Existence... a.k.a. Dandelions stretching as far as they eye can see.

Here's my beef. I don't care if no one has lived in that house for five years; someone still OWNS it, and someone still has to MAINTAIN it, and unless someone wants to sell it, someone still has to PAY a different someone to mow the grass. And now the owner-someone also must MUST do SOMETHING to control those weeds. Because now THIS

is happening all over my yard, and my gravel walkways, and my flower-beds. And it's driving me batty.

Not to mention THIS.

And if dandelions are bad, thistles are approximately 100 times worse because they are so thorny that one cannot even remove them wearing gloves. No, it takes a shovel.

Or Round-Up -- a product with the proud word KILLS front and center on the label.

Which is why Mother Nature will probably hate me. Because I went all around the ivy beds on the side of the house--beds which I hate, by the way, and which once surrounded the entire house, but which I've been systematically dismantling each summer without the benefit of mind-numbing Mother Nature Hating chemicals, but with only old-fashioned elbow grease. Anyway, before that enormous sentence, I went over all the ivy that remains on the right side of our house--the side abutting the abandoned house whose yard looks like hair that has never been combed--and I drenched that ivy in Round-Up because the thistles have invaded the ivy. And since the thistles were KNEE-HIGH in disaster abandonment front yard last summer, I'm pretty sure I know where this year's crop in my yard came from.

Just to be clear: this is not a house that has succumbed to the recent mortgage-lending crisis or whose owners otherwise deserve pity, pies, and neighborly helping hands. This is a ranch house built in the 1970s, inherited by someone from his mother, and then someone chose not to live in it OR to sell it but to leave it empty, even though it is on a lovely street in a quiet neighborhood in an excellent school district where otherwise the yards contain flowers like these.

And, really, a homeowner can only live so long next to neglect before losing her mind and turning to Round-Up for help. In case you're unfamiliar with Round-Up, you spray this toxic chemical on the leaves of any plant, and the plant withers and dies in a matter of hours (practically). My long-time fruit-farming father-in-law swears by the stuff. His farm was at its peak during the time of pesticides that are now banned by the feds from any further use--pesticides with all sorts of nasty human side-effects that are only slightly less nasty than what happened to the bugs. So, I'm thinking if Round-Up gets his whole-hearted endorsement, it CAN'T be good for the environment.

And the only part of me that feels guilty for using Round-Up is the part of me that feels a wee bit guilty about not feeling guilty. Because, honestly, last year our yard had the odd dandelion which we had to pull. This spring, I put down "weed-n-feed" (which I did not do last year), and yet our front yard looks like we are trying to grow a crop hearty enough to start a dandelion wine business.

So after I doused the thistles and ivy in Round-Up, I used a whole bottle of some weed killing substance that is grass-safe, and I watered the front yard with it like there was no tomorrow. I also spent HOURS removing dandelions and thistles from two flower beds. Because I work hard to grow this

and I don't need thistles everywhere obscuring my view.

Since I know that the uncontrolled weeds to our right will keep sending their awful seeds blowing downwind into our yard, I also sprayed a hearty does of weed killer over there. I plan to get a longer hose and douse the whole front yard.

And then I'm going over there with my shovel to dig up all the tulips and hosta I want out of their abandoned flower beds.

(At least, in my fantasy rebel life I am. In fact, I'm probably too law-abiding to follow through.)

If all of this makes me a bad person as far as Mother Nature is concerned, I apologize to her. I will say this, though. The neighbors to the left of me? The lovely retired couple who spends about 30 hours a week gardening? I'll bet they would buy me ANOTHER bottle of Round-Up if it keeps those hideous weeds from invading their yard. And I think the Neighborhood Association is nominating me for a medal.


MultiplesMommy said...

You go girl! I say you go dig up all their flowers you want. Clearly, THEY are not enjoying them any longer, so why shouldn't you?? And since Round UP is about $127 a bottle, I think the least you deserve is some slightly used perennials out of it!

MIQuilter said...

If you want hostas, come dig mine up! I have a bunch that I'd frankly prefer you to enjoy than the deer to eat so that I can spend the rest of the season looking at forlorn, chewed on stalks sticking out of my "flower" beds.

Re. the neighbors - I'm sorry you have to deal with them and I say take their tulips as reimbursement for the Round-Up costs you incur. If anyone asks why you're digging up their flowers, tell them "they didn't tell me I couldn't". Which is totally true. :)

mommythe said...

thank goodness im not the only one who hates dandelions!

LceeL said...

I believe that most Township or Village or City governments will have ordinances in place regarding weeds and other noxious plants and their control. where I live, if your weeds grow too high, you are sent a letter by the Township. If you don't do something in a specified period of time, the Township sends out a crew and does it for you. And the send you a huge honking bill. And if you don't pay it then there's a lien on the property. Go get 'em.

LaskiGal said...

The house across the street was on the market forever. The agents came to show it, the previous owners came to check on it, but it was basically left alone.

And the weeds grew

and grew

and grew

A few wind and rain storms our yard was a thriving, incubating, mass of WEEDS. Nothing we did worked (including a very nicely worded letter to our local gov't).

We finally gave up and embraced the little yellow pains in our rears.

Mrs F with 4 said...

I live in a county where herbicides and pesticides are outlawed (a good thing in principle...), so I have acquired a new tool in my armoury of anti-dandelion / thistle weaponry... a flamethrower! Not a honking industrial, sear-large-buildings-in-a-single-blast flamethrower, but a smaller, more delicate (!) version. Something slightly larger than you would use to scorch a creme brulee. Oh, and a bucket of water, just in case.

It's really very satisfying!

And no, I don't let the children take a turn.

Re: the neighbours... do they by any chance have a letterbox in the front door (you can tell I'm European!)? If so, I suggest a quick spray of water through it, followed by some cress seeds....

mommypie said...

I come from a huge gardening family and I feel your pain. I'm seriously getting mad FOR you!!

I still own my house back in the city and have rented it since late '05. It breaks my heart to go back and see it. My beautiful, beautiful garden I spent so many backbreaking hours on is completely GONE.

But there are plenty of dandelions.

OHmommy said...

Your flowers are so pretty. Don't you just love the midwestern Spring?


Judith Shakespeare said...

Please, please, please come to my yard. I need your nazi-gardening style like I need chocolate cake- DESPERATELY.

I promise to feed you only the best southern dishes and good alcohol.

Aimeepalooza said...

your poor bleeding hearts!

MamaGeek said...

Oh my GAWD, I think we have the same neighbor. And it drives me nucking futs as well!

foolery said...

Full disclosure: my yard is all about dandelions, burr clover and bermuda grass (which is the "grass" in the yard, even though it holds "weed" status in my heart). Surrounded by acres and acres of farmland, we also get wild oats, thistles, nettles, and some sort of sticky climbing vine grass. At our yard's very best it would scare the bejeezus out of a homeowner's association.

I say you go dig up every last usable plant at that house. When someone asks you why, tell them you were absolutely sure there was an infestation of poison oak, and you have eradicated it for the good of the neighborhood.


Kalamazoo Mom of 2 said...

We have a neighbor like that too - SO ANNOYING! Don't fret about the round-up - your yard/garden is doing WAY more for the planet than the damage caused by your necessary use of chemicals due to lazy son-of-a-neighbor!

Don Mills Diva said...

The lawn at the house across the street got overrun with weeds and they spread to us - we were so pissed we called the city on them!

Manager Mom said...

Ummm...if it weren't for dandelions, our front yard would be covered in nothing but rocks and dirt. I think the grass gave up and went south a few years ago... but if you at least MOW the dandelions regularly, or before they can go to seed, it isn't such an eyesore.

Just like I am not so good with the domestic arts, the spouse is not so strong in the yard care milieu...

Kimmylyn said...

How did you get pictures of my backyard from all the way over there?? haha

I kid. That would drive me insane. There is a house at the end of our block that looks like it is empty because of how poorly kept it is.. though can you believe there is a family of four in it and chose to live like that?? ugh.

Chantal said...

First time visitor (over from What Works..) Have you ever tried Corn Gluten Meal. It is a germination inhibitor. I won't kill the dandelions you already have but it will stop new ones from germinating. There is a lot of info about it on the web. I use it in conjunction with weeding and hope to have a weed free (as much as possible) lawn soon. It is more work than the chemicals but good for the conscience.


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