When faced with a yard full of crabgrass and dreaming of a garden, there is only one solution. Sodbusting. It’s backbreaking, filthy work. But nothing feels better than destryoing the plainness of a rectangle of grass. Armed only with a shovel and a pair of heavy gloves, I got to work digging up grass in two parts of the yard: soon to be home to a pair of raised beds for vegetables. Over the course of a weekend, I accomplished the job, but not without finding dozens of intractable tree roots, a few garter snakes, some marbles and slugs galore. And earwigs. The most vile animal every to scurry the planet.

I cut through the mat of grass roots about four inches into the soil, then scraped off a layer of grass. I can now imagine being a settler plowing under prairie grass for the first time to create verdant fields. Except if it were me, I’d get about 60 square feet into it and say, “You know Ma, why don’t we just run a mercantile instead?”

More advanced technology that I had at my disposal.

I didn’t have the assistance of a clydesdale or even a mule, but my dog Scout did have a keen interest in standing right where I was placing the doomed clumps of grass. Once I had a sizeable space cleared, I shook as much loose dirt off the clumps as I could.  Beware: most companies that collect yard waste will not take anything that has a significant amount of dirt attached. I was stuck with this stuff. So being part tired out and part clairvoyant, I laid them green side down in a row along the back fence, where I would eventually plant some non-edible shrubs. My sodbusting frenzy went a little bit overboard, and a few weeks later, I cleared another smaller space for an herb garden. The grass clumps from that endeavor are still sitting in a trash can in the sideyard, waiting for me to figure out where to put them.