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yard maintenance confessions of a lazy Californian

Updated on August 23, 2012

Weeds laid flat

results of a whacked earth policy
results of a whacked earth policy

Weed whacker mania

Last weekend, I got out the weed-whacker and performed my annual yard maintenance. If a plant can stand being chopped within an inch or two of the ground, it has my permission to live another year.

The rain stops for a few months around now. If you time it right, nothing will grow much in the dry season, after the great whacking. But, if my wife notices the sprinklers aren't on, that plan can be foiled.

If I just let plants grow continuously, it might provide better for the natural environment. However, three foot tall grass, dried by the California summer, would be a fire hazard, and if i kept the plants watered, my yard would eventually turn into an impenetrable blackberry thicket. So, one time a year, I endure the splashes of splattered spittle bugs on my face and the occasional sting of a fragment of blackberry vine, to lay flat anything in my yard that can't get away quickly enough.

My weapon of choice is an electric weed-whacker. Left for a year, the gas in a gasoline version will rot, and clog what passes for a carburettor in the thing. I had to get a cord that was long enough to stretch to the farthest corner of my yard. There are a few shrubs and trees in my yard, and my path of wrecking weed havoc is about as systematic as an automatic pool cleaner. So, I occasionally end up like some stupid dog leashed to a tree, with more energy than smarts, and have to be lead to retrace my path, and untangle my leash.
Not any electric weed-whacker will do. I got one with a more powerful than average motor that spins at high rpm, and got some thicker weed-whacking twine than it is rated for. This way it can cleave most year old plants from their stem. There are some exceptions, very woody and fast growing bushes, and palms. Those, I take care of with hand loppers.

I always forget to find an old pair of glasses, and end up with dried weed guts and bug bits stuck to my glasses, and obscuring my vision. With a little soaking in water and wiping with a soft cloth, this comes off, though.

Fortunately, I have tolerant neighbors who haven't reported me to the lawn fashion police. I may need to do some touch-up in a couple weeks, either because some plants were laid flat by the plants next to them falling over, and will spring up again, or there is enough energy in the roots for a second growth, but water is the fuel of plants and our summer will do most of the work.


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