In row after row of red brick ranch style McMansions, yard after yard was dark green lawns. But no one had finer thinner grass that Matt, the Crab Grass King. Matt worked at a landscaping outfit, but his specialty was weeding yards. He decided to specialize on the control of crab grass and he became an expert on the subject.
Matt had his own library. His walls were covered with shelves with book after book on the different types of grab grass, where they grew, how to avoid conditions that attracted them to a yard and of course, book after book on how to get rid of it.
“A lawn is the first thing you see when you pull up to someone’s house,” Matt said. “Crab Grass is like a mole or a bad rash on the face. It makes people feel self-conscious. It makes them less self assured. I’m like a plastic surgeon for a person yard. Eradicating crab grass creates self confidence.”
He had posters everywhere in his library and a few in his house. It was like a lifelong commitment to combat the scourge of grab grass. I had been to his house many times and seen his impressive collection of grab grass books and paraphernalia. It was impressive. He even had a book on the types of insects and animals to promote in a yard to eat and control crab grass.
Matt was a short read headed man with glasses. He took his hobby seriously.
“You realize few things can wreck a really nice yard worse than crab grass,” Matt told me in a very matter of fact serious tone. “I consider it my mission on life to help people lead a crab grass free lawn.”
For the life of me, I could not understand his obsession. To me crab grass was just grass with wide leaves. I never worried about it in my lawn. It was just one more type of grass to me. I went over it with my lawn mower and all the grass and a few weeds looked the same height. I never really worried past that. I figured I mowed my lawn when it got too high and the problem was solved for the time being.
I really didn’t understand Matt’s obsession with the type of grass he grew in his yard, and he was not alone. Others in the neighborhood worried about crab grass and other types of “weeds.” There were people in the neighborhood who would spend hours with those little tools pulling up dandelions and other similar weeds up out of their yard.
“You need to get down here and pull these weeds out by the roots,” said ol’ man Withers, my neighbor on the other side. “That’s the only way you’re going to get them under control.”
“Yeah,” I thought to myself! Like I’m really going to get down there and pull up those weeds when I can just mow over them. I had a hard time covering up my laughter.
Matt had many clients who came to him for crab grass advice, as if crab grass where the AIDS of the modern lawn.
My neighbors also watered their lawns deep green into the dead of summer when it was nearly impossible to keep the grass alive. Somehow I figured the grass went dormant in the dead of summer. I had a brown lawn at that time, but it was always green in the spring and fall. I suppose many of my neighbors thought I was being lazy, but the way I saw it, I was just going along with nature. Nature took care of its own and I rarely interfered.
My own yard went for the rustic look. I didn’t like well trimmed bushes. I like to let my willow trees and a few of the others, grow into canopies. I like to grow vines, such as hops or morning glory seeds on my fence. And it didn’t upset me if I found a skunk or opossum wondering around in my back yard. Some of my neighbors considered squirrels to be a pest and tried to get rid of them. I had no problem with letting them live in my trees.
But there was always Matt the Crab Grass King. I didn’t share his passion for crab grass, but I had to admire his singleness of purpose when it came to life’s purpose.