Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Murdering... the Turf


Waking up to the sun shining, a mockingbird singing and children playing I said, “Today I’ll commit murder.”  Murder… my Turf, that is.


I had to kill my grass to save my soul. Or at least my water bills and/or sanity, whichever I had more of. (Answer: water bills.) My first step was finding a murder plan, so I grabbed an Agatha Christie mystery and began reading. With all the dozens of murders Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and Luke Fitzwilliam had solved, none of them detailed killing grass. I needed to speak to a professional turf murderer.

“Harold, I need help,” I said waving to my 86 year-old neighbor as he stood in his front yard. He swatted the air with a flick of his wrist while watching the lawn sprinklers douse the barren dirt patch in front of his house. His yard was so defunct it looked like a bomb had been dropped on it eighty-four times. “Wow,” I said with admiration. “Your lawn is super dead.”
“I didn’t kill it intentionally.”
“But when you don’t set out to kill something, you really kill it.”
“Since I washed my car, nothing will grow here,” he said kicking the dirt.
If I killed my lawn the same way he’d killed his, I wouldn’t be able to grow so much as a weed ever again. I took one step back, then another.
“You want my help killing your grass?” he asked.
“I can’t hear you—” I said sprinting to my front door and slamming it behind me.

Inside I raced to the internet. I found sites full of information on killing the lawn with a silver bullet. The method was so quick it took just 24 hours. What a difference one day could make! I read on—the silver bullet used chemicals. But then… weren’t these quick chemical options just like Harold’s murder method of car washing? This wasn’t a rhetorical question. It was the truth. And I answered it truthfully: Moving on!

I opened a new search window and googled “organic methods + killing grass”. Apparently vinegar was a popular method embraced by fellow turf killers but it entailed buying whole glasses, bottles and vats of vinegar to kill the grass. Full Disclosure: yes, I wanted to murder my grass but if I were going to buy vats of anything it would be water, whiskey or wine. Moving on!

I sought out wholesome organic methods of “taking care of the grass”, which is an Italian mob euphemism for “whacking the turf” and found one called “Lasagna”.  This method's recipe had my mouth watering: Lay six (6) layers of cardboard and/or newspapers on the grass then atop that, pile six (6) inches of organic mulch. Let it cook in the sun for two (2) months then with a shovel dig through the mulch and paper mess and plant your drought tolerant plants directly in the muck. Serves 1 hernia to the idiot doing this by herself.

Several things bothered me about this: 1) Where would I get enough cardboard to create six layers (?!) to cover my whole yard? 2) Who would do the back-breaking work of piling on the six inches of mulch to cover the entire lawn? (Answer: moi). And 3) A cooking time of two months?! Yes, I was lacking sanity but I wasn’t crazy! Moving on!

Approaching my wit’s end, which actually was a short journey considering how few wits I possessed to have even embarked on this Quixotic murder endeavor in the first place, I found a last option: Plastic. This method entailed mowing the grass short, covering the lawn in large sheets of black plastic and pinning the plastic sheet down with bricks, boards or the lawn mower since I wouldn’t be needing that thing ever again. Denied sunlight by the opaque black plastic for six weeks, the grass would wither and die. 

Ahhh, yes. Murdering with plastic, how shrewd, inexpensive and effortless. Or as Agatha Christie said Murder is Easy. And the Queen of Murder would know.