April poetry

The careful art of lawn maintenance

As good as mining blocks on a screen

Or thumbing an endless scroll

The pastime of encouraging grass to grow

In a suburban lawn plagued by weeds.

 

You may have heard there are a range of eco-friendly

solutions to the sprawling clover.

Something to do with vinegar and hot water

As so many solutions to contemporary problems involve.

 

If I took any of this seriously

I would have looked more carefully into the names

(characteristics and behaviours) of each weed by now.

Instead I non-methodically pry at tendrils and leaf unfurling through the blades

 

Elicit their reaching roots from the soil or

Snap their creeping stalks at the base.

Five major types at least stand out

As especially ambitious:

  1. Dark green leafy creeper, spreads close to the ground with thick, white roots spreading out in long runners under the soil. Pulling a thread up by the underlying white root is a deeply satisfying reward.
  2. Mini clover, spreading in patches via spindly stalks, criss-crossing between and around blades of grass. Can carefully be pulled up as a net, most successfully if edges are first unpicked.
  3. Sprouting grass: invasive. At first looks like healthy grass filling in a bare patch so it has been allowed to spread unchecked. May in fact be a weed. Pull up by individual tufts – tedious but high success rate with roots quick to relent. Evolving suspicion of an underlying rhizome.
  4. Spreading grass: invasive. Thin slender blades that form feather-soft patches of ‘maybe we should give up and let this grass take over’. Looks likely to burn in summer.
  5. Some kind of broadleaf weed. Starts as small, inconspicuous bursts nestled among healthy lawn. As it grows leaves spread wide out over grass, stealing sunshine and water for itself. Most likely to snap at the base when pulled. Roots plunge down in a tough spear as if clinging to hell.

 

My neighbour reliably tells me

We were sporting healthy Sir Walter buffalo

When we first moved in three years ago.

It must have been new turf, at the time.

 

Since then, the local mowing service has brought seeds

From corrupted yards far and wide

And a succession of resident bush turkeys have raked muck

From every neighbour higher on the hill, down through the low chicken wire fences.

 

But now we have our eye on you

And all the time in the world to invent

Runner breaks, cultivate watering routines,

Stage patch tests, chase the shade.

Images by author.

 

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