Friday, August 23, 2013


By Chuck Petterson

One of my motives, albeit small, for moving from the city to the country was to reduce lawn care pressures. Granted, the area I now mow is 15 times larger than the entire lot   we had in the city. However, I figured I didn’t have to worry about how my lawn looked next to my neighbor’s. I have no neighbor east or south and there is 600 feet of meadow between my yard and the neighbor to the north.

Over the past ten years there are periods when I had more yellow than green in my lawn. This year I decided to get rid of the yellow-flowered plants. I studied all the labels for the different herbicides one can buy without a permit. The majority claim to slowly strangle 200 varieties of broadleaf plants most folks find offensive in their lawn.

I bought eight quarts of a popular- brand broad leaf weed killer. I eschewed the option of crabgrass preventer in fear I would end up with more brown than green in a week.

I applied the chemical in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations, all local, state, and federal regulations while wearing long-sleeve shirt, long pants, rubber gloves, goggles, muck boots, and self-contained breathing apparatus.

I must have picked just the right week in the growing season. For one week my lawn showed green grass, purple leafed dying dandelions and something else that was dying and I was a happy lawn maintenance person.

I didn’t really notice the other green things that were still healthy, because all I focused on was “not yellow”.

A few days later I started seeing tiny, four-petal, yellow flowers here and there in my otherwise variegated-green lawn.

Thinking I may have missed these candidates, because there were a few dandelions mocking my efforts, I bought a few more quarts of spray and doused the offenders again, following the restrictions for soil load, etc.

That was two weeks ago. The little yellow invaders weren’t fazed a bit. I hit a few of them with some war surplus Agent Orange and that did the trick. But, I have to be precise in applying the defoliant or else I kill the grass I am looking to promote. That takes a lot of time and it is hard to keep track of what has been sprayed and what hasn’t. I need another option.

I am somewhat aggravated that with 200 species of weeds on the list I have one that isn’t!  I did some research. Yeah, 200 species, but some of them aren’t on YOUR property, unless you are reading this in Estonia, the Eastern Caucuses, Australia, or Peru.

I went to the extension service website, searching for the identity of this weed and a possible cure.  Sure enough, Glechoma hederacea is NOT among the 200 weeds on the label of my herbicides. I need to buy a different herbicide and, according to the instructions, apply at night during the new moon in September and then spend the following six Sundays in church praying it worked. All of this depends on whether or not I made the correct identification. By then it will be Thanksgiving and everything will be brown anyway.

I just hope I don’t have to take licensed-applicator training. That will put me off for another year!

Charles (Chuck) Petterson lives with his wife of 43 years in rural Harrison County, Iowa. Following graduation from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Chuck enlisted in the Navy. He spent seven and a half years at sea with the Atlantic Submarine Force after two years of training as a nuclear plant operator. He worked for Westinghouse Electric Corporation as a nuclear instructor and field engineer for 18 years. Since 1991 Chuck has been an independent technical writer specializing in proprietary documents for electric utilities and industrial thermal facilities.

Chuck’s creative outlets include playing saxophone in a variety of community concert bands and dance bands. His writing efforts include contributions to a variety of hobby interest publications.  Polar Bear in Parrot Jungle is the first novel length story offered to the public.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Chuck.

Since we live in Iowa, too, we can totally relate to your odd weeds. We've passed the point of no return--we just embrace them. Quite a few, like plantain, are actually medicinal!!

Love your writing style - thanks for sharing today. And if you ever know of anything going on in Iowa concerning writing, I'd be interested!

Gail Kittleson

Caroline said...

Lol. I love the little persistent buggers! I know they're weeds, but cheery ones. If all else fails (chuckling here . . .) give up and enjoy!

J.B. DiNizo said...

The weeds in my lawn make me wish for a lawn of nothing but stones or pavement. Well,my weeds are green, and I guess that's good.

Claude Nougat said...

Hilarious! What a pity this is just a blog, I'd love to hear you play the saxophone...