You can’t let a single one live. If you let one live, it will feed the source and you’ll never be free. I’m talking about total, complete destruction. No matter how cute those babies are, how much you empathize with their struggle to survive, they won’t love you back. They only exist to destroy you, so in a Mano-a-Mano struggle, you’ve got to harden yourself. No mercy, baby.
And if you think you can kill them easily, you haven’t tried. They’re sneaky, wily, and when you’re done, you’ll swear they can move faster then a two year old headed for the ice cream truck. You’ve got to adopt a Zero Tolerance policy and you’ve got to devote 3 full weeks, no vacations, no days-off for good behavior, to the blood bath. If you’ve been infested already, you have to work hard at annihilation. I’ll tell you how I’m doing it, not because I care so much about your yard, but because I want to eradicate the stupid things. If everyone eliminated the thistles in their own yard, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about repeat infestations.
First, order large quantities of your favorite toxic chemical. 20% vinegar does the trick, but the whole area will smell like a pickle factory when you’re done. Industrial strength Round-up works, too, without the smell, but it will kill larger areas of grass. Whatever you choose, go outside in the heat of the day. The roots are more receptive to your noxious liquid during the hot part of the day—usually around 3:00 PM. Spray it everywhere a thistle has cropped up. Or where you think one might be growing. Or where one has grown in the past. You’ll end up spraying there anyway, and you might as well get a jump on things by spraying it now.
When you’ve done the first round, go inside, congratulate yourself, drink some ice water and wait 10 minutes. Go outside. Notice that you missed a bunch. Spray again. Repeat congratulations. Wait 10 minutes. See the cycle? It won’t take you long to realize that you haven’t missed them—the roots have sent up new runners. You’ve got to hand it to evolution: she created a masterpiece when she came up with the thistle. Fortunately for you, Mother Nature has a larger swath of ground to cover, so if you’re lucky and if you send enough money to your favorite Green Earth charities, you may just get rid of them before she turns her attention back to your yard. But don’t count on it.
I keep repeating to myself that at least the thistles aren’t giant tree roaches. Or fire ants. And at least the grass surrounding the thistles resembles the ground cover that most people would recognize as grass, unlike the St. Augustines that we put up with in our last abode. But all of that didn’t help 2 weeks ago when I had a mini-breakdown after researching thistles. It seems that most websites recommend placing large quantities of mulch or a black tarp over the entire area. For 2 years. Yah, that doesn’t work so well with my whole notion of “barefoot in the grass” experiences for my children. On the other hand, I’ve never heard of mowing a tarp, so there could be benefits. And, after all, I’ve got to provide fodder for my children’s therapy. “My mother wouldn’t even let us have grass! She was so hard-line…”