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Gardening While Married: To Weed, or Not to Weed? That is the Question.

To weed or not to weed? How could that be such a charged question? It’s a no-brainer to me. Ditto for my husband. But there’s the rub. We come to different conclusions.

We are simpatico on nearly every issue. Politics. No problem. Religion. Not an issue. Money. We jive. But weeds? Where I see invasive interlopers with flying seeds and unruly roots, Gary sees lush green. And when I clean squatters out from around my perennials, Gary cries “scorched earth!”

Our conversations go something like this:

Katlin: I can’t find my daylilies.

Gary: They’re there. Just wait until they bloom.

Katlin: The roses can’t breathe.

Gary: We shouldn’t grow roses.

Katlin: Vinca is taking over the yard.

Gary: Vinca? What vinca?

So imagine my chagrin when I opened the weekend Wall Street Journal to find a massive feature story “Why We Must Learn to Love Weeds” by Richard Mabey.

Darn that article on weeds!

The article invoked Ralph Waldo Emerson who said: “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” That would be Gary’s point of view.

The WSJ piece also mentions my stand: “They (weeds) are plants that sabotage human plans. They rob crops of nourishment, ruin the exquisite visions of garden designers, break our codes of appropriate behavior, make unpleasant and impenetrable hiding places for urban ne’er-do-wells.”

That’s certainly what I found in a recent campaign against unwanted garden guests. They were blocking my plans (and plants), robbing my perennials of nutrients, messing up my garden design and hiding legions of disgusting snails .

At our first house, we found a simple solution. Gary took the backyard. I gardened in front. I can’t remember who tended the sideyard. It didn’t matter. It was a tiny, easy-care yard.

At our current home, that all changed. We have gone out of our way to create a very high-maintenance yard. And we share landscaping duties throughout the multiple garden beds.

So how do you cope with a split household on the subject of weeds? This may sound rather sneaky but it works for us. I suggest that Gary go do something that he loves like, for instance, sailing. Then I move in with trowel and create botanical dig sites throughout the yard, unearthing my beloved plants. Here are a few before and after photos:

A few of the backyard beds:

Before - Jungle of plants

After - Plants with shape and personality

One of the new perennial beds:

Before - Jumble of plants

After - The daylilies are located!

Before - Hidden daylilies and fern

After - Happy plants!

From the frontyard:

Before - Rhodies with encroaching bergenias, end-of-season forget-me-nots and colonies of snails

After - Rhodies waiting for new bulbs and other companions

It’s not that I’m hiding my eradication efforts. The weeds end up in a very obvious pile in the driveway. Then Gary comes back from sailing a happy skipper and hauls them off while I enjoy a drink on the patio.

The great payoff...

Got any better ideas? I’m listening!

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10 comments

1 Maureen Chan-Hefflin { 06.06.11 at 1:12 pm }

Great article — an ongoing discussion in many households this time of the year!
My suggestion – bring in the kiddos! The boys planted over 150 annuals for Mother’s day (without complaining, I might add!)

2 Katlin Smith { 06.06.11 at 1:19 pm }

Comment from a friend:
Here’s an idea for you… come over any time with your equipment and I’ll sit on the patio and pretend I’m not watching! Oh, this was priceless. I guess I will weed next weekend… or maybe not.

3 Katlin Smith { 06.06.11 at 1:21 pm }

Comment from Gary via Facebook:
One other weedy rule. They must be tall enough to pull without being on you knees….otherwise leave them alone.

4 Matt Weiland { 06.09.11 at 6:56 am }

As Richard Mabey’s editor here at Ecco, I just wanted to say how much I loved your post (and picture) about the WSJ excerpt! And I’m glad to discover Zest into the bargain.

5 Katlin { 06.09.11 at 11:46 am }

Comment from Facebook: No arguments about weeds at my house–I’m the only one who ever pulls them.

6 Katlin { 06.09.11 at 11:46 am }

Another comment from Facebook: Pretty funny! Quote from Iowa State University horticulture professor circa 1970, “Weeds are unwanted flowers.”

7 Katlin Smith { 06.09.11 at 11:48 am }

Thanks, Matt! My husband loved his article. Please tell Richard that I won’t hold it against him!

8 Perennial Garden Photos « Home Flower Gardening { 08.21.11 at 4:20 pm }

[...] for a Perennial GardenAugust Garden PhotosGarden Plants Questions About Small Rock Garden PlantsGardening While Married: To Weed, or Not to Weed? That is the Question. #content-body,x:-moz-any-link{float:left;margin-right:28px;}#content-body, x:-moz-any-link, [...]

9 Liz w/ BigTex Worms { 01.20.12 at 12:40 pm }

Uggh. Weeding, my least favorite part of gardening. And with perennials, they tend to spread and take over rather quickly, especially my rhizomes.
Lovely garden and article. Wish my husband would help me, he wont even take out the weeds for me. Boo.

10 Katlin Smith { 01.20.12 at 12:50 pm }

I feel your pain, Liz! My husband is helpful in the garden BUT he disagrees with me on what is a weed and what one should do with those pesky things. I have been known to send him on errands so I can weed in peace!

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