Now that the growing season explodes upon us, I have been waging war in my yard daily. I define weeds as plants that are not where we want them. Thus, I allow milkweed to grow out by the cul-de-sac because it attracts monarch butterflies, and I rip out myrtle in dozens of spots because, although it is a lovely ground cover, it also tends to choke other things that are more desirable. It truly is a war. The myrtle advances and I attack with all my weapons.
Every day I find poison ivy, which I pull up gingerly, and then take great care to wash both arms up to my elbows with poison ivy scrub. This morning I detected a small rash between my pinkie and ring finger on my left hand. This isn't fair. I didn't pull it out with my gloved left hand! But a few rashy spots (most of them just pinhead size) are what I've come to accept as a normal part of a gardener's trials.
I often fight plants with plants. If you rip out what you don't want and replace it with a vigorous start of something else, it might be able to hold onto its turf and keep the undesirables at bay. Another option is mulching, but I have always struggled with limited time, energy and money. When it comes down to choosing priorities on what to spend my meager funds on, plant material and some good soil to get them started always wins. In the meantime, I pick up pine cones by the buckets and mulch around bushes with them. This year I may splurge on a bale of hay for the vegetable garden, and maybe even ask our lawn mower (the person, not the machine) to collect the clippings, now that we have a mower than can actually bag the stuff.
Progress is slow but steady. Every spring I wonder if I will just give up, and then I get started. Inspiration sprouts and then gets rooted. I reach for the hoe, the shovel and the poison ivy scrub and decide that I can't just let things stay the way they are.