James Lileks
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I was putting down some new grass seed when a neighbor paused and asked, "Think it'll grow?"

No, it will not. This spot is cursed. The ground is sour. I probably used the wrong seed. I know — wrong seed? How? It's grass. It's not in-vitro fertilization. You dig, rake, strew, wait, and, voila, grass.

I know guys who can lay sod on a concrete driveway, and it's not only still green a month later, it has taken root. I put down the finest seed on rich bespoke soil imported from the Red River Valley, give it the care and love you give a newborn, including starting a college fund, and I get a salute to male pattern baldness.

At the store I looked at some new seed innovations: One uses less water, another has the fertilizer built right into the mix. How did grass grow before we came along with fertilizer? (Probably mastodon droppings, which were then spread by advancing glaciers.) One package caught my eye because it promised, more or less, that the grass came up so fast you had to fling the seeds and run, lest you be lost in an instant thicket. Bring a flare gun, just in case!

Well, that's what I want, right? Finally, a grass for today's busy lifestyles. None of this lollygagging bluegrass for me. Then I noticed that it also said: "Great for temporary lawns."

Under what circumstances would I want a lawn only for a while? I mean, any regular lawn can be temporary if you want. Either hose it down with Roundup (Now reformulated for fast-acting lawsuit prevention!) or just deed the land to me; I'll drop by, walk around, and it'll be dead in a week.

The one thing I can do, lawn-wise, is kill weeds. I bought a spray bottle with a special handheld grudge nozzle, as I like to call it. It lets you eliminate weeds individually instead of all at once. It's more work, but it's more satisfying: "You want some? You come around here after what I gave you last year? Say hello to my little friend, glusoclyne-phosgena66X."

The label says it kills "470+ weeds," which is a strange number. Could mean it kills 471 weeds. Or it kills exactly 25,022,394 weeds, but they figured no one would believe that. There's a little pamphlet, glued to the bottle, and it tells you some of the weeds that will perish at your hands:

Spurge, Crimson Drop, Devil's Fescue, Jaundiced Nutsedge, Turgid Lawnwort, Scottish Grass-Rash, Lacerating Jumpweed, chickweed, chuckweed, checkweed, chackweed (flowering and nonflowering), and so on.

If they listed all 25,022,394 weeds, the booklet would be 9 inches thick. Or there would be a QR code you could use to get an audiobook recording of the list, read by an underemployed English actor whose mellifluous tones lull you to sleep until the poison wand slips from your slackening grasp.

The Ortho brand is different: The label says, "KILLS ALL WEEDS," which seems to cover it, but small print following "ALL" says "types of." This would seem to be a distinction without a difference, no? If the dentist says, "I'm going to remove all your teeth," then adds, "Well, all types of your teeth," you're still certain it's going to be Jell-O and milkshakes from here on.

All the sprays kill crabgrass, which is a pity. That stuff grows well, and technically, it's grass. Just a little broad in the blade. I'd be fine with a lawn of well-trimmed crabgrass.

The only other option is quite toxic: Just paint it all green. Note: Use watercolors for a temporary lawn.