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Column: The battle for the back yard

When I bought my house in November of 2007 I got a place to call my own, a break from landlord-controlled living and a living space big enough that I can have one room set aside just for my bikes.

Well, my bikes and the several bags of recycling I have yet to take out. But that's not really the point.

I also got a back yard made up mostly of dirt, trees and something I've come to learn is commonly known as creeping charlie. I don't really know gardening, but it's been suggested this is an undesirable thing.

When I first moved in I didn't know the state of the yard. It was fall when I bought the house, and the leaves from all those trees were thick on the ground. All I knew for sure was I'd have to do a lot of raking every year. There was snow on the ground before I actually moved in. I had to shovel my sidewalk twice before I spent my first night in the house. Weeds were well down on my list of worries. Somewhere between the half-inch gap under the back door and building a garage.

Even after I discovered my weed infestation I wasn't concerned. My first spring in the house I sprinkled some grass seed on the yard and assumed the problem was solved. I might even have watered it. At least once or twice.

Like I said, I don't really know gardening.

I think I inherited my gardening prowess from my mother. She once killed a Chia Pet, then turned it over to her father, who revived it. Then my mom took it back and killed it again.

I made more plans to attack my invading weeds my second summer in the house, but those never really materialized. I drove around all summer with a bag of grass seed in my car, but it never got closer to the yard than that. It didn't really matter. As far as I was concerned, the back yard wasn't much more than the weedy patch I mowed from time to time and that I passed through on the rare occasion I took out the trash, something that happened only slightly more often than taking out the recycling. I didn't bother it, and it didn't bother me.

I've since learned that creeping charlie can spread from an infested yard to neighboring lawns. If that's the case, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to my neighbors. Although, since one is appears to be at least a little racist and the other has a pit bull that want nothing more than to gnaw my face off, I guess I don't feel all that bad.

Still, I feel like this is the summer to get things done. I'm building a deck in my yard, staking a claim to a demilitarized middle ground that to this point both sides had been happy to let the dirt have. I'm making plans to spend warm summer days reading in the open air, and while I don't really mind the appearance of my invading plant life, I feel like I need to get rid of it on general principle. This is my yard, charlie. Move it or lose it.

Problem is, I have no idea how to make that happen. A quick online search suggests that weed killers are either the only answer or entirely ineffective. That I'm dooming myself to long hours pulling weeds or that the only solution is to take a blowtorch to the entire yard. I'm not sure what to believe. Although I like the sound of the blowtorch thing.

Maybe I'll just ask my mom to take care of it.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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