My garden-building began last month with a frontal attack on foundation shrubs (click here) and liriope, also known as monkey grass. The grass attack continues.
Now I'm pursuing lawn grass, which stands in the way of mosses, like the hair cap in the above photo, which reminds me of little trees.
Grass never goes without a fight, especially when it's growing for someone who doesn't want it. Like gutter removal, grass-killing is always on my mind when I start a garden. While I enjoy looking at grass, smelling its new-mown fragrance, I prefer those pleasures in someone else's garden; I do not want to cut grass. Nor do I want to use the huge amounts of water or fertilizers typcially spent on lawns.
Mosses, on the other hand, are virtually care-free, once they feel welcome and establish themselves. Moreover, they are beautiful, evoking images of forest floors, with a fragrance that combines the smells of earth, sea and grass.
In gardens past, I have thrown everything imaginable into this war on grass (click here), including vinegar, boiling water, sunlight-deprivation using mulches of cardboard, newspapers – and even shirts, shorts and pants, as long as they were made of natural fibers.
I'm using those same methods in my new garden here in Marietta, Georgia, with a couple of exceptions: I'm not using clothing; before moving from Connecticut, I threw away anything that wasn't worth keeping. The other change: I'm trying black plastic, which should block sunlight and at the same time trap enough heat to burn the grass dead.
Using plastic may scare folks who believe this material is tacky even if it does the job.
Killing two chores with one roll of plastic, I scattered pine straw on some of the plastic so the needles will decay enough to make good mulch during the few months the mulch will be down and working in the hot sun.
Another piece lies naked. Stones and container plants and such tarts up the plastic – and keeps it flat on the ground.
Whatever grass remains after a few months will get the acid treatment. Because grass prefers alkaline soil, I have laid in a supply of acidifiers. Later this summer I'll combine sulfur and aluminum sulfate, spread the mix on the grass and wait.
In a few months, the grass should be dead, and the soil should be below a pH of 6, ready to grow some of the estimated 12,000 mosses.
And if the grass is not killed by any of these means?
Well, I'll remind myself that, like building a garden, killing grass is a hard, constant, satisfying thing. Then, if necessary, I'll dig and scrape and pull it out by hand. In the end, this grass will not stand. Not in my garden.