A Weed By Any Other Name

By Loren Skoug | September 7, 2021
Image by JohnAlexandr
by Loren Skoug
September 7, 2021

There are few aspects of gardening that I flat out dislike. As long as I’m spending time in my garden I’m gaining something from the experience. The chores that take away from my precious time are the ones that I hate and the task that tops this list is weeding.

Weeding – A Reason To Step Up The Gardening Game

The time I get to spend in my garden each week is extremely limited since, unfortunately, my garden isn’t in my yard. I live in an apartment, and while I love house plants, there just isn’t enough room (or sunlight) for me to grow what I want inside. Full-time employment, marriage, and the distance between my home and my beloved plants leaves me about four hours each weekend to garden.

Maintaining a 300 square foot garden with only 4 hours a week requires efficiency. Over the years I’ve adapted to these limitations, but chores like weeding are necessary and cut directly into my precious time. Strangely, the only weed that constantly creeps up isn’t normally a weed at all; it’s grass.

A Weed by Any Other Name

A weed is categorized as such based on its desirability. If a plant is growing in your garden and you don’t want it there, it’s a weed.  

I have raised beds that are surrounded by grass, and as long as the grass stays out of my beds, it’s not a weed. Problems begin sprouting up as soon as the creeping crabgrass breaks the surface of my precious loam. At that point, the grass has edged into weed territory.

Removing the grass, while tedious, isn’t my source of frustration; it’s the relationship I have with the grass. In the lawn, the grass is more than welcome as it keeps dust down, mitigates heat around my plants, and provides plenty of green fuel for my compost. Unfortunately, it knows no boundaries. 

Crabgrass is an extremely hardy perennial that can reproduce vegetatively via rhizomes – or creeping roots that produce new stems. This means that the grass that surrounds my beds is constantly pushing roots into my precious soil.  

I could remove the grass, but it would be extremely time consuming. My limitations require efficiency in the garden, so the grass remains. Instead of spending an hour each week gently coaxing wiry stems away from my babies, I’ve decided to create four inch borders around each bed. This keeps the grass at bay, but doesn’t hinder its contribution to my space.

So while I dislike crabgrass, I also appreciate it. Its persistence has forced me to adapt and stay efficient. Weeding is a pain, but it’s also helped me grow as a gardener. For that, I am thankful.

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