Battling kudzu is, to me, the ultimate futile fight of mankind against the inevitable. Finding a wayward patch, you grab it and pull. Yards upon yards of leaves and vines file through your hands as you tug roots up from the ground or pull the curled vines free from trunks and branches. But the branching, ever multiplying plant has no true end. Ultimately, you have to choose the point at which you declare “enough.” Even as the plant comes free in sweet release, your relief can only be physical. You have not won the war. In truth, you have not even won the battle. With a snip of your shears you have merely determined the location from which the fight will next resume.
You would think, with all the money we invest into biological warfare and gene tech, that someone out there would be able to develop a poison I could spray over my entire lawn that would only target the specific genetic structure of kudzu (Though I would be willing to sacrifice a few other ivies along the way if necessary). Yet, if such a product exists, people are completely failing to market it because I have yet to find it. When faced with a yard rung with kudzu, the most you can hope for is to declare your battle lines and to try to keep the enemy from crossing them. I pull vines free from the trunk of the one tree in my backyard which has not already had them intertwined into branches too high for me to reach. I monitor the fence that separates my back yard from my neighbors to ensure that the kudzu that covers it has not begun to creep along the ground. And I patrol the edge of my house while keeping a sharp eye out for any vines that have sought to cross over the thin strip of lawn in order to attack my foundation.
Should the vines ever reach the house, we’re done for. In a matter of months, kudzu can demolish a home. It twines through the foundation, busts through windows and tears down rafters. We bought our house in November, when the bare vines are barely distinguishable from all the other grey foliage, and we gave them no notice. At the closing the previous owners mentioned that the yard had “a bit of a kudzu problem” that we should keep an eye on. Of course, at that point it would have been too late for us to back out, even if we had realized the true implications of that innocuous comment.
The truth is, I love my house. At the most, the kudzu problem may have made me argue for a lower purchase price, but I doubt it would have been a deal breaker. I keep the pit of vines mowed back and monitor the lines I have declared. One day I hope to have the money to call in a landscaper and ask them how many thousands of dollars it will cost to have some professionals come in and clear out all the kudzu on my land (and that of my immediate neighbors, because otherwise there is little point). Hopefully, it will be a price I can afford. Perhaps it might be best to save this for closer to when we’re thinking of selling. While such an investment may definitely count as a battle won, it is still just buying time against the inevitable, unending war. After all, even a professional will ultimately have to pick the point at which they simply declare “enough” and and give the snip that merely redraws the battle lines anew.