Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sharing Grass

I’ve never done things the way others do.
I didn’t get a college degree; I got two.
I didn’t date a bunch of losers; I married one great guy.
I didn’t want green grass; but had the lushest, greenest yard in all of Southern California.
Ahh! Life's cruel ironies.

I’d already made the big decision to delete the lawn plus I’d been approved to rip it out but when it came to the logistics of actually removing the emerald green sod I… just… couldn’t… do… it.

The reason? I felt terrible tossing out a living plant—albeit one whose weekly water needs sucked the Mississippi River bone-dry and required a mowing, weeding and fertilizing regimen that was more complicated and time-consuming than a bride preparing for her big destination-wedding day. Nope, when guilt struck me, it hit hard wiping out all the painful months I had suffered maintaining the %#*$ grass and replacing rational thought with sentiments like: 

I can't rip out the turf.  It's not fair to the turf.  The turf was here first.

I was like the woman who was sick and uncomfortable throughout her entire pregnancy, but the moment her baby was born--Whoosh!--she forgot about the previous nine months of agony and got pregnant... again.

My guilt about removing the turf taught me a vital lesson about myself, I had a mothering instinct... for plants.
Clearly, I’ve never done things the way other people do.

Yes I was a plant lover and as horticulturalists know the greatest defining characteristic of plant lovers was, we never threw out plants. No, sir-ee, we shared them! 

In our neighborhood finding someone who needed green grass was as easy as giving away candy bars on Halloween. I looked at my neighbor's brown lawn and sashayed over to Harold and Norma’s house where I found Norman hoisting his American flag. Of course, they'd take my grass because nothing was more American than green grass! Except maybe baseball, oh, and football. Football was American and so was apple pie, hamburgers—and despite the name—“French Fries”, Girl Scout Cookies, yellow ribbons, oak trees, jazz, disco, grunge, crab cakes, the Constitution, throwing horseshoes, s’mores, fire pits, fireworks—okay, okay! So clearly plenty of things were American and food related. But lush green grass was on that "very American" list, too.

“Harold, do you want our grass?”
“Sure I’ll take it,” he said looking at our yard with envy.
“If you pick it up and plant it over here.”
Now I was a plant lover but not a fool. Doubling my work by ripping out my lawn and fixing up his was not in my grand plan of sharing grass.
"If you want it," I said. You can come get it. Deal?"
Harold laughed and entered his man-cave garage.

I telescoped the area and spotted another neighbor working in his garden.
"Hi Jerry," I said bounding over to him.  Jerry was a San Francisco sports fan, a rose fan and a true plant lover. He had dozens of beautiful roses in his front yard. Of course Jerry would want my grass!
“I hear you’re making some changes to your yard,” Jerry said snipping off a stalk from a rosebush.
“We’re getting rid of the turf.”
"But your grass is real nice," he said tossing a look to our yard.
“Do you want it?"
He shook his head. "But if you're getting rid of any roses, I’ll take those."
Correction: Jerry wasn't a plant lover but a rose hog. 

Maybe I could call a local library.  Donate the grass to them.  Or a—wait a minute.  What was I doing? If I wanted to get rid of the grass in my yard to improve my quality of life and decrease water bills it didn't make sense to pass the grass along to someone else because that meant the total number of yards with grass in L.A. would remain the same.

If I wanted to enact change, I didn't need to share grass but my vision of a water wise garden and push my yard from turfed to turf-free.  Without my neighbors or a charity taking my grass the only option I had was to kill my grass... myself. 

Nope, I’ve never done things the way others do.


  1. Could you turn the grass into mulch or compost?

  2. Hi Kenny,

    Thanks for reading my blog and your question! There are several ways to kill the turf and I have outlined them here:

    The most important things about killing it are: 1)Be sure to kill the roots of the grass as effectively as you can; and 2) Use the method of turf killing that works for you. Black plastic was the route I decide to take. Now it's a waiting game for the grass roots to die.

    Are you killing your turf, too? I'd love to know. Thanks again for reading!

    Best wishes,