Anne LatreilleThe lawn saga

The lawn saga got under way many years ago when I decided that weeds shouldn’t be allowed to grow in our new lawn. So I used to kneel down and yank them out. The kids and their friends would play around me. It got a bit dangerous when they were belting hockey balls against the garage wall.

Lawn weeds extracted, a pile seen in the distance

But what was more dangerous was the deterioration of my knees. Not physical but visual. Calluses appeared and I have never got rid of them. (I used to quite like my knees).

Some decades on nothing has changed. There’s a new lawn – buffalo grass, planted around six years ago in a lovely round shape devised by my husband the architect. Buffalo grass will be good, I was told. Weeds don’t grow in it.

Don’t they?

...and close up

…and close up

First came the creeping oxalis. It’s quite pretty when the little yellow flowers are out. It makes a tapestry through the long arms of the buffalo. I have sprayed it with special poison – reluctantly – for two years now, in summer when it is galloping around – but it doesn’t seem to work. I don’t like poison. Maybe it knows.

Lawn weeds in situ

Then the kikuyu that used to grow in the old lawn resurfaced. I called in the cavalry with Scott, our wonderful hedge-trimming and heavy garden maintenance guy. He lifted a huge square of buffalo and yanked out all the kikuyu. These grasses don’t look that different but the kikuyu is meaner and leaner and not such a pretty colour. That should fix it, we thought. It hasn’t, it’s back.

Kikuyu strands disinterred

Kikuyu strands disinterred

And each year comes the winter grass. Little bright green tufts that are quite easy to see against the buffalo, whose colour is a bit flat in winter. Especially in the middle of the day, when the sun is out. I looked at it this year and thought oh no, there’s too much, I can’t do this any more. Especially as when you extract a big tuft of the stuff, you need to make very sure there aren’t little edge bits left behind, because they will quickly mushroom. Then the inner me emerged. ‘Don’t be weak’ it said. ‘I’ll do 20 a day’ I promised myself.

Beautiful buffalo with one weed left – can you spot it?

Twenty? What a joke! I’m up to 200 a day and three weeks later – it’s a big lawn – I have given the winter grass a fright. I’m leaving the dead bits to lie there for a bit. Maybe they will deliver a message to the stuff that is still growing.

My magic digging tool

I have a magic tool, a little two-pronged fork that you get underneath the roots with. Couldn’t manage without it.

What I can manage without, however, are those ugly calluses on my kneecaps. I’ve decided not to post an image of those!


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Anne Latreille

About Anne Latreille

Writer, editor and journalist. Author of 'Garden Voices' (about Australian garden designers past and present, September 2013), 'Garden of a Lifetime' (Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at Cruden Farm), 'Kindred Spirits' and 'The Natural Garden'. Melbourne, Victoria.

7 thoughts on “The lawn saga

  1. I as well relate to your saga, the creeping yellow oxalis is so hard to hand weed but I have nearly beaten it. My failure dispute fanatical weeding is winter grass, an old gardener once advise me that one years weed is seven years seed, how true. Jeff

  2. My Hubbie bought a specific herbicide for Winter Grass this year. It has to be used early, before the weed appears, around April/May.. It does appear to be much less than last year, and we will still weed out the seeding few that are there and respray next year.. I think it’s a Hortico product, I’t just called “Winter Grass Killer” It’s not cheap, about $30 a small btl. We used about half the btl. on our largeish front lawn.. Cheers Ned

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