Q: “I live in SW Florida and recently moved into a new home. I have absolutely NO green thumb . . . what is a good plant that has color, is pretty, and can survive with minimal care IN constant sunlight? Secondly, my yard is full of sand spurs. Have any suggestions as to HOW to get rid of them so I can let my pooches play outside without putting boots on them? ” ~Micky Rae
A. Ok, fortunately for me, but unfortunately for you, I have no experience with sand spurs. I’d like to keep my distance from them too, because those things are pure evil. For those who don’t know, sand spurs are an annual grass type of weed that produce a very spiky
torture device seed pod that hitches a ride on anything it can in order to spread its reign of terror seed and reproduce. What makes them particularly diabolical is that they can hold on to bacteria from animal feces (and what not) and then inject it straight into your bloodstream when you accidentally step on one and get impaled by its tiny hypodermic needle-like spikes. They inflict their torture indiscriminately―no one (no woman, no child, not even a puppy) is safe.
I’ve looked into ways that you can get rid of them and they mostly involve one of three methods: 1) hack them to pieces 2) poison them to death or 3) burn them alive. But all of those methods have major drawbacks (like contaminating the soil and rendering it infertile, #2) and varying degrees of success. And then it hit me . . . this is a classic battle of Good vs. Evil. You can’t fight evil with evil, that will just incite more wrath and vengeance! You have to fight those vile little herbi-monsters with love. You see, sand spurs rule in sandy wastelands of infertile soil, but they can’t hold their own when healthy plants and grasses choke them out. So if you spend your time and energy improving the soil and encouraging the growth of healthy grass and plants, the good guys will eventually win!
Kill them with Kindness.
1) Suit up. You don’t have to go full hazmat, but long sleeves, long pants, rubber boots, and thorn-proof rose gardening gloves would be good.
2) Drag the yard. Drag an old terry cloth towel or some burlap over the entire yard to collect all the loose spurs.
3) Disarm the offender. Using garden scissors, carefully trim the spurs off of the plants and put them into a paper bag.
4) Burn the evidence. Carefully incinerate all of the spurs so they can not do any more damage (or deliver their seeds).
5.) Administer TLC. Feed, shave, and shower your lawn regularly. A good watering and fertilizing program will encourage the growth of healthy grass. Mowing regularly (but not too short) is crucial because if you continually clip those f****rs BEFORE they go to seed, then they can never grow those awful little spike bombs, reseed, or reproduce. Remember that there may be seeds still in the soil ready to germinate and start the reign of terror all over again, so for several seasons you must be VIGILANT with that lawn mower, my good woman. But then, in the fight against evil, we must all be vigilant.
Now that we’ve overthrown the evil empire, let’s install some new leadership. You asked for pretty, colorful plants―how about checking out some perennials like Milkweed (ugly name, pretty plant) or Canna Lily. They should do well in your conditions. But, as always, I really recommend that you visit a couple of nurseries in your area and buddy up to the experts there. They will be extra knowledgable about plants that thrive in your neck of the woods, and they’ll be able to give you specific tips that will most likely be invaluable in the ongoing battle of Good vs. Evil. May the force be with you!