Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weed Whacked

Don't be alarmed, it's only me decked out (the family says I look like the "Weed-a-Bomber") for my annual weed warfare. This time of year is really tough on me. First it's taxes in mid April, then fire inspections start on May 1. We have to have our whole yard trimmed up and cleared of weeds and grasses.

Here's the before picture. I think it looks pretty nice but this will get us a big fat fine and the fire dept. will come and clear it themselves, then bill us for the work. The only reason some of the grass is still green is due to the shade from our trees. In another two weeks this would all be straw like you can see in the background.

Here it is immediately after trimming but before I raked it all up. This is one of 5 areas that have to be trimmed each year. It takes about 2 solid days of work get the whole yard into compliance.

My legs look like pin cushions when I am done. I am also allergic to the type of grasses that I have to cut so, even though I wear a bandanna, I sometimes get shortness of breath for a while afterward - yea.

We used to have much more work to do. Then we planted an area about twice the size of the one pictured with California native plants. The natives really keep the grasses and other weeds to a minimum - not weed free but workable. Eventually we will have much more of the yard planted with a mix of natives and edibles which will displace the grass and weeds.

Next year we will seriously consider a goat contractor. First we need to figure out how to protect the desirable plants from the goats, and the goats from the dogs before we go that route.

Tomorrow I get to haul out the "Patriot" chipper and make mulch from the branches and plant material that is suitable for mulch. Normally I perversely enjoy the chipper, but tomorrow, after a solid day of swinging the weed whacker, I hope to get through as quickly and painlessly as humanly possible.


  1. Yeah! Goat contractor! I used to work at a lab in the Berkeley hills and they hired a goat contracter to come in and mow the hills. It was really impressive. The guy came out with a little RV and 40 goats and some car battery run electric fence and go to town for a couple weeks each year. Pretty cool.

  2. Really confused here. You can't let your grass grow on your property because it's a fire risk?

  3. Sorry Ian, I should have been more clear. Yes. There are strict fire regulations here in L.A. County- especially for fire overlay zones. 100 feet from any house must be cleared of all dry brush and grasses.

    You can check out the rules here:

  4. How does displacing the grasses with natives work? Don't they fall under the same regulations? I'm thinking native grasses, maybe you have something else there. I just spent the weekend clearing out our weeds, I'd love to make next year easier.

  5. Chris,

    We planted our yard with a broad mix of natives, mostly flowers like california sunflower bush, sage, penstamons, manzanita, etc. There are some grasses there too (canyon prince, deer grass and fescue) but they don't dry out and turn to straw the way that the other grasses do.

    There are some pretty tight restrictions on native plants, you aren't technically supposed to have them very close together, they are supposed to be trimmed up an neat. But there are also exceptions for irrigated plants. Ours are on a drip system that we seldom use. There are also some natives that are fire resistant. You can see a list here:

    The bottom line is if the inspector sees lots of dried grass, dead wood, overgrown bushes, etc. you'll likely get a warning and eventually citation. If your yard looks like it is maintained and free of debris, you'll be ok.


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