The Tidy Raccoon, Part 2: Urban Eco-System

I’ve had a dream of growing grass in my mud pit of a backyard ever since I got my big, glorious dog Jasmine.  Her two favorite things to do are relaxing and luxuriating and relaxing and luxuriating on grass.  So this September I dug out all the useless clay soil around my patio and replaced it with nutrient rich, drainable soil.  I sprinkled a drought tolerant grass seed over it that the instructions said would grow a wild, long bladed style of grass, and then I fenced the whole area, watered it and waited.

In just a few days a dim, green shadow formed over my dirt patch.  My grass was growing!  I would run out to my tiny lawn each morning to see how many more blades had popped up over night.  Soon, I had fresh baby grass surrounding my patio.

Then the slugs arrived.  Based on internet gardening forums that I visited, this is a thing that happens in England a lot apparently.   But I’m guessing that to slugs a shady yard in San Francisco is as good as a yard in England.   It turns out they are attracted to the wet dirt and feast on the baby blades of grass.  They literally destroy your lawn one blade at a time.  Another gross thing about slugs is their disgusting booger trails make the grass that they haven’t eaten get moldy so they’re a real win/win.   The forums told me the only way to get rid of them is to go out with a flashlight at 1am and pick them out by hand.  Like a crazy person, I absolutely did this.  Every night.

It worked!  My grass flourished enough for me to feel comfortable taking down the waist high fencing and replacing it with a cute little temporary metal fence that would keep the dogs from playing on it as it matured.  A few days later I walked out to do my morning grass check and froze in shock.  My little fence was pulled out of the dirt and left in a mangled pile.  My beautiful baby grass looked like a tiny farmer from 1860 had come and hand plowed it, leaving it uprooted in perfectly straight rows.   It was as if whatever creature responsible for this destruction was a compulsive neat freak.

Just doing a little gardening!

And then it dawned on me, The Tidy Raccoon, of course!  I took out my phone and asked Siri if Raccoons eat slugs.  Strangely, instead of answering yes or no, she showed me literally the cutest video ever of a raccoon digging up and eating slugs in a park in Canada.   Mmmkay, so that’s a yes.

Britt came out to see who I was talking to.  I told him about the raccoon. He was gleeful.  “Oh how cute! He tore up the grass in efficient little rows!”

“But my grass is ruined!”  I told him.  “But how cute and talented is our raccoon he did it so neatly with his little hands?”  he replied.

Our raccoon.  He said our raccoon.  I sighed and rolled my eyes at him.  I shook my head and went back inside.  At least the slugs were gone.


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