The other day I noticed that nutgrass (okay, okay–nutsedge) was coming up through the blacktop on my driveway. This didn’t surprise me in the slightest. I had already learned that all of that optimistic advice about organically controlling nutgrass–you know, without chemical herbicides–was not, shall we say, grounded in reality.
I had tried covering the damned stuff with black plastic sheeting to cook it to death in the heat of summer. I had tried laying down cardboard and topping it three inches of mulch to smother it. I had tried sifting my soil and removing the nuts. Do I still have nutgrass? Oh, hell yes. Coming up through the blacktop, as well as pretty much everywhere else.
Not long ago the Los Angeles Times ran an article on this bane of the Los Angeles gardeners’ existence. Local experts offered advice. And here is my favorite advice from that article, offered by Frank McDonough, botanist at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden:
“Because we don’t use chemical controls, the only method we have at our disposal is removal. The most effective control of nutgrass that has established itself in the ground is to remove the soil down to 18 inches and replace it with nutgrass-free soil. The other strategy is détente: We have a very lovely lawn in an area that, upon inspection, consists mostly of nutsedge.” You can read the whole article here.
Guess what? My “lawn” is greening up nicely. It’s almost all nutgrass. And since the damned stuff requires very little water, apparently I can have a “lawn” without guilt. I’m going to call it detente, not defeat.