I suppose I could admire nutgrass, aka nutsedge, an invasive weed that has defied my attempts to eradicate it for years. It is a survivor, a small green plant with an incredible ability to come back after I thought I had yanked it up by the roots. It has staked a claim to the “back forty” and refuses to concede any territory.
Of course, I don’t admire nutgrass. It’s screwing up my makeover of the back forty and making me alter my great vision and redo sections that I thought were finished. From the beginning, I had envisioned a rustic flagstone path winding through the garden. I found a blue-gray flagstone called New England blue that I thought would go well with the pastel greens and lavender of the Plum Creek cobble that I had bought for my dry creek.
I picked out about 30 pieces of the flagstone from a large pile at Cascade Rock, a delightful place if you like dreaming about one-ton boulders that would look great in your yard. I envisioned a spartan path of stones laid out on bare ground amid the rosebushes.
I cleared the ground of nutgrass and briefly considered putting down landscape fabric to control weeds. But that seemed pointless. I would have to bury the fabric under a few inches of soil to hide it, and nutgrass, as all Sacramento gardeners know, takes hold in the barest of soil. I deluded myself into thinking that the stones would block most of the nutgrass and that I could tolerate a few weeds between the stones.
My stepson, Glen, spent a warm morning installing the New England blue flagstone while I hauled cobble in my wheelbarrow for my dry creek. In a few hours, the path was done, and resembled the vision I had in my head.
Within days – like three days – squads of nutgrass invaders had staked out a claim to the territory and were calling for reinforcements. By day five, I realized I would have to surrender my rustic path or see it taken by brute force.
Like a soldier in battle, I found an old prayer rising out on the depths to provide solace and guidance: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
The next day, I took up all the stones and put in three-foot-wide anti-weed fabric along the path. I replaced the flagstone and covered over the fabric with cobble. The presence of so much rock blurs the impact of my emerging creek and reduces the rustic feel I’m aiming for. On the plus side, the nutgrass doesn’t get to emerge along the path. I can be serene with that.
I still have a few remaining areas of bare ground that need some work. I would prefer a minimalist look, a soothing emptiness. Nutgrass has been a minor problem in these shaded areas, but having suffered a setback in sunland, the nutgrass guerrilla army may want to stake out new turf.