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Home arrow Opinion arrow Columns arrow Dandelion defense, and edging toward trouble


Dandelion defense, and edging toward trouble

The clouds and the sunshine have finally worked out their customary spring schedule, and my grass is greening nicely.

Not so nicely as the dandelions, of course.

I despise dandelions, and have employed all manner of weapons to eradicate them from my modest expanse of turf, yet I can’t help but admire their tenacity.

This war I wage, like almost all wars, is a needless conflict.

My disdain for dandelions brands me as the product of a culture which venerates some vegetation and abhors others for reasons which aren’t altogether rational.

There is no dramatic difference among, for instance, dandelions, daisies and California poppies.

Each species reproduces prolifically whether tended or not, and each displays colorful blossoms in season.

Yet I sowed the daisies and the poppies on my property, and have encouraged them to spread, while I treat every dandelion as an enemy which has breached my defenses and must be eviscerated with cold steel or smothered by chemicals.

My campaign against dandelions is satisfying in the sense that it’s both simple and, in our household, unanimous.

My wife doesn’t care for weeds, either.

In other aspects of landscaping, though, our goals are not always in harmony.

I harbor an unhealthy obsession, for example, with maintaining precise edges to the lawn.

I can’t explain this any more than I can express why the sight of a dandelion annoys me, but I simply can’t resist the urge to square off the border where turf meets flower bed.

It’s not that I yearn to transform my yard into a geometric perfection of straight lines.

I prefer graceful curves. But like a drill sergeant who dresses down a buck private who lets his flat top go a trifle scruffy, I can’t abide an expanse of grass with borders that get that messy look when they’re not trimmed frequently.

Lisa doesn’t object to straight edges. What bothers her is that to keep the edges tidy I tend to create a strip of dirt between the grass and the flowers.

Dirt, of course, is nothing but mud in waiting.

And with a 3-year-old who roams the premises daily and has a master dowser’s ability to find water, it rarely has to wait for long.

Max can foul his entire wardrobe in a day if you don’t hide all his cups, buckets and other receptacles. And that’s pretty much impossible because he stashes them between rocks and in the dim recesses under the elderberry.

The logical solution of course is to protect the dirt strip with pea gravel or bark dust or wood chips.

Trouble is, I prefer to use a power trimmer to maintain my edge. Those rapidly spinning lengths of tough plastic that whack grass as neatly as a razor slicing through a day-old beard also turn any loose items — pea gravel or bark dust or wood chips, let’s say — into shrapnel.

Combine this weekly bombardment with the mud and you have something nearer the Ypres Salient in 1917 than a pleasant yard, soft under bare feet and well-shaded on a torpid August afternoon.

It’s much safer, and less controversial, if I concentrate on the dandelions and let the edges go where they will.

Jayson Jacoby is editor 
of the Baker City Herald.


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