Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Mathematics of Weeds

Soon after moving into our new humble abode, about a decade ago, I was faced with a lawn problem. What I had assumed would be a woodsy view from the south windows, was instead a sea of rocks and mud where the contractor had laid the lateral lines for the septic system.

At the time, buying more sod was out of the question. What with all the unforeseen expenses of a new home, I was broke. Instead, and in keeping with the “natural” look, I opted to plant a field of wildflowers in lieu of grass. No mowing, no fertilizing. What a concept! Weeds? Yeah, there might be a few but hey, weeds are “natural” too, at least in that environment.

When the flowers were blooming, it was beautiful; a riot of color with blues, reds, yellows, and whites. That would last for all of about oh, two months. Then the flowers died off leaving a half acre of ugly brown stems and of course, the weeds. A few seasons later and with new homes springing up around me, all with immaculate lawns,  something had to change. I bit the bullet and had tons of top soil hauled in, sod for the slope, and Bermuda seed for the flat areas. I watered, fertilized, and waited. Time passes and Shazaam, I too have a nice lawn. Well, except for the weeds.

Dealing with 10,000 square feet of weeds is a problem of overwhelming dimension. Instructions for weed killing granules implore you to water after the application for best results. Simple if you can afford either a sprinkling system, a neighborhood lawn boy, or a team of lawn care professionals driving big tank trucks and wearing green coveralls with a logo on the pocket. A half dozen garden hoses with 14 sprinkler heads, not so simple.

My fishing buddy Arnold (also with a big lawn) came up with yet another of his famous sensible solutions.

“We go together and buy a tow-behind sprayer for our lawn tractors,” he says. “We use liquid weed killer. No watering in. Just spray it on and go get a beer.” Hmmm.

The scenario: I stand before the sprayer, my trusty Sears riding lawn mower, and a two gallon container of liquid weed killer from Atwoods in hand. But there’s a problem. Somehow, the mixing instructions have been misplaced. Hmmm.

I go to the Internet for help where I find the product. The formula for the mix reads: 2.66 pints to 40 gallons of water for 1 acre of coverage. I'm looking at 10,000 sq. ft. and a 25 gal sprayer. Hmmm. Can I do the math? One acre equals 43,560 square feet. So... 10,000 sq. ft. is roughly ¼ of that and 2.66 pints at 16 oz. per pint is uh...42.56 oz. and 1/4 of that equals 10.54 oz. Is that right? Close enough.

But there’s no mention of the speed at which the lawn tractor needs to be driven to properly cover the designated area. Obviously, fifth gear will cover it about five times faster than low gear. Trial and errror time? No. I certainly don't want to kill all the grass by overspraying.

Back to the Internet. With further research, I’m shocked to see that my particular concentrate of weed killer is designed not to be delivered by a Sears Lawn tractor, but by AIRPLANE.  And is not for common lawn grasses, but biologically engineered to treat fields of COTTON!

Hell with it. I mix one ounce per gallon, put the tractor in third gear, and spray the crap out of everything. Either I’ll end up with a beautiful green lawn or the damndest crop of cotton you’ve ever seen.


  1. the trick is to have enough beer afterwards that you'll just take whatever comes. cotton could be nice

  2. that model looks like that one I have


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