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The war in our own backyards: Bermuda grass

Don’t be fooled by Bermuda grass. It may feign to be your ally but it is nothing but the enemy.

Bermuda tendrils are like alien probes/Ryn Gargulinski
Bermuda tendrils are like alien probes/Ryn Gargulinski

Sure, some may extol the grass’s seemingly stellar qualities. It can beat the heat and quickly blanket large bald areas of dirt.

Lowe’s even has several shelves of the stuff with only a scant selection of anything else.

But don’t get sucked in. You’ll regret it.

My house came with a yard full of Bermuda, looking snazzy, neat and green in mid-October. By winter it was brown and dead, as one of its sneaky ploys is dying off every year so you think you’re rid of it.

But by spring it was back – with a vengeance. The grass took off like a raging flame, promptly ignoring all decorative stone borders meant to keep it contained. It slithered over gravel, coated whole boulders and began a rapid ascent up nearby trees.

Bermuda sprouts long, evil tendrils – not unlike alien probes – with leaves that produce their own roots if they get near enough to the ground.

I think a tendril began to writhe through a bedroom window.

Bermuda grass/Ryn Gargulinski
Bermuda grass/Ryn Gargulinski

That’s when I declared war.

The war has thus far cost thousands of lives and hundreds of dollars. It’s been raging for three years now, nearly as long as World War II, although I’ve yet to use nuclear bombs.

That may still be an option.

My current arsenal consists of shovels, rakes, grass shears, clippers and ragged hunks of metal that never made it into artwork. A personal tiller joined the ranks because of its name, the Hound Dog. It is sharp enough to rip off toes for those dumb enough the landscape in flip-flops.

War tactics include the deep-shovel heave, the hand rake rip-out and the tiller assault. My kitchen funnel pinpoints specific areas in which to strategically stick fresh soldiers, a.k.a. new grass seed, in pockets beneath the clay. New battles are fought daily.

Enlistees come from all walks of life. Kentucky bluegrass. Fescue. A miracle mix “as seen on TV.” All grass blends promise to be 99.9 percent weed-free but for some reason all produce toadstools. I only care no mixes contain Bermuda. Even crabgrass has become my friend.

With two dogs and a big wide world out there, the new soldiers have plenty of enemies. Dogs Sawyer and Phoebe could be my ideal war machines, but they have sided with the enemy. Sawyer eats the roots off new recruits. Phoebe destroyed an entire young battalion when she dug deep right through them to bury a chew hoof.

Crows and doves come as death from above, swooping down to feast on fresh soldier seeds. Another large blackbird ripped up a troop to go build a nest. Phoebe chases nearby motorcycle noise across the backyard but pointedly ignores the birds.

Soldiers die off by the dozens. Some wither and brown when I forget to water. Others float sadly to their demise when I go inside and forget to shut off the hose. Still more succumb to bombings by the dogs with a toxic liquid.

Although I’ve gained much territory since the war began, it has seen its share of casualties. One of the most tragic was a poor baby lizard hiding in the path of the grass shears.

He was cleanly cut in half.

Yet he died a noble hero – fearless and noiselessly for the cause.

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[tnipoll]

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Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who spends her free time making art and fighting Bermuda. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

Bermuda southeast war zone 2007/Ryn Gargulinski
Southeast Bermuda war zone 2007/Ryn Gargulinski

Southeast relcaimed territory/Ryn Gargulinski
Southeast reclaimed territory 2010/Ryn Gargulinski

wb-logolilWhat do you think?

What plagues your yard?

How do you get rid of it?

Have you ever battled Bermuda grass?

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