My Curated Weed Patch

Last Autumn, I moved into a new place and was responsible (for the first time since 2008) for the “yard.”

I put “yard” in quotes because the back is so shaded from the overhang of dense tree branches, it is basically a small, awkwardly-sloping dirt patch. The front is a narrow sliver of ground on one side of the walk leading to the front door and an awkwardly-sloping 8′ x 8′ area on the other.

Mercifully, the HOA takes care of the shrubberies on the other side of the sidewalk running along the front, but neighbors on either side care for their own “lawn” indifferently, so they have the weeds. These weeds sometimes like to come next door to my place to play and thus begins our tale.

Immediately before I moved in, the owner decided to take down a tree that had shaded the front for many years. It was necessary because the tree had become hazardous. So they mulched the stump and after such a long time in the dark, the ground was essentially bare except for a large “elephant ear” plant growing beneath the window.

Having been a container gardener for several years, I set out my pots and wondered whether I should invest in any lawn care equipment for such a little bit of ground. If not, what was I going to do with it?

For the time being I did nothing, however, and in the full morning sun each day, what had lain beneath began to assert itself.

First, three flowering things with tulip-like leaves sprang up. I learned in the next freeze that whatever that was didn’t tolerate frost well.

Soon after, some monkey grass started happening near the front. Toward the top of the lawn behind my large pansy pot, a very attractive ground cover started to spread. (I think it may be the Elizabeth variety of Sedum.)

Then came the weeds.

Dandelion was first. As the autumn progressed, however, so too did the number and variety of native plants.

There were these little plants with dark green, spade-shaped leaves that produce tiny purple flowers. Soon after, some fern-like vines erupted. These had paler fronds with the most beguiling curled tendrils on the end with even smaller purple flowers.

Then came the random grasses (at least two kinds), some kind of spread-y thing that seems to exist just to drape over everything else, thistle, and a bit of clover. Those were ones I kind of recognized anyway.

Because the nights grew colder, the weeds mostly stayed in check with a little hand removal and the ever-so slight application of Round-up. (*Don’t throw things at me YET, bee-lovers. For, this is a story of redemption.)

Then as they tend to do, the days once again grew longer. The frosts ended, but I still had a problem: responsibility for this bit of ground and no equipment. <sigh>

Fortunately, my powers of observation, keen sense of the aesthetic, and total cheapness were all working for me when I decided, I like my weeds. There. I said it. I. Like. Weeds.

They really are quite lovely and mine are mostly fairly short. They grow without any effort from me, survive without me watering them, and the bees* (eh? eh?) seem to like them.

Now my life is different after committing the highest form of suburban heresy. But my plan is a bold one.

I enter a gladiator in the Darwinian competitive fray between the pretty and small and the tall and unattractive. I will weigh in on the side of the weeds I like by hand-removing the weeds I don’t.

My hypothesis is the small and pretty will eventually occupy the entire space and crowd out the others. It may take the entire season before I have enough evidence to be proved correct (or otherwise), but in the interim, I am getting a little exercise, I am saving a ton of money on fertilizers, herbicides (bad! very bad!), seed, and water.

Here is where we are today.


Hopefully, I remember to circle back in late summer to update you on my progress.