This is the before picture of the grass.
It's too invasive. It has zero winter interest. I think voles like it in all that dead grass. It must go.
Tools of choice for this job were a Cape Cod Weeder, a hand rake, and some gloves.
Tip of the garden hat to Annie in Austin for recommending I get a Cape Cod weeder. I have no idea how I gardened all these years without one!
I used the hand rake to rake out as much loose grass and leaves as I could and then I followed up with the Cape Cod weeder to dig out the grass roots a section at a time.
I knelt in the dirt to do this, which is how I got my knees all dirty.
I am thankful that I can still kneel on the soft, cool ground to dig in the dirt, and I'm JUST as thankful that I can stand back up afterwards.
The result after about 50 minutes of raking and digging by hand is that I've removed 75 percent of the ribbon grass.
That's a very good start, if I do say so myself. Another 30 minutes or so of digging and most of that blankety-blank grass will be gone. (I know the grass won't be completely gone, but it will be gone enough that what remains I can weed out as it sprouts.)
Some tips for others who have some digging to do this spring:
- Work in small sections. No matter how big a digging job looks, if you do it a square foot at a time, a little at a time, you can get it done!
- Always buy the best tools you can afford. The two tools I used are well made and they make the work easier. I can do the work without worry about the tools falling apart.
- Get started.What are you waiting for? Why are you procrastinating? You've dreamed all winter of getting back out into the garden, so just go out there and get started. This was literally the second good day to work outside in the garden this year. I went straight home after work, changed in to my gardening jeans and headed out to the garden.
- Don't over do it the first few times you get back to gardening in the spring. I decided to start with about an hour's worth of work so I wouldn't end up with blisters, a sore back, aching knees, sun burn, etc. I just wanted to do enough so I could see some progress and I can definitely see some progress. Remember, a runner doesn't start out by running a marathon after resting all winter; a gardener shouldn't start out with an all day gardening marathon on the first nice day of spring.
- Don't plant ribbon grass. A friend gave me a start of this when I first moved to this new garden. I was desperate to plant something. Too desperate. I was vulnerable because I'm a gardener and I like to plant. I believe this ribbon grass is probably Phalaris arundinacea. Watch for it, avoid it, don't take a start of it.*
The happy end to all this digging is that I'll end up with a pretty large area to plant something else in, which is what every gardener wants, right?
(*Okay, you can plant ribbon grass if you have an area where nothing much will grow, or you have a slope or hillside and you need to plant something for erosion control. But do not plant it in a flower bed and think you will contain it. You will not contain it.)