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doodle by andre: moving in slow-mow

THIS ISN’T JUST LOW-TECH, IT’S SLOW-TECH. Even with my old gas-powered push mower (emphasis on “push” on this hilly terrain) and the tractor for the outermost areas, I’m clocking a minimum of 45 minutes a day and not keeping up. Andre Jordan, our doodling friend, swears he has neighbors who cut their lawn with scissors; I will admit to clipping the edges of beds with a large pair myself, but that’s only because I so loathe weed-whackers. You? High tech, slow-mow–or perhaps a hungry goat or two?

  1. john says:

    We have 1/2 an acre and us a man-powered rotary push mower. It’s only really rough when the rain falls for 2 weeks during th egrowing season and we have to deal with super long grass on the 1st dry day.

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, John. Lately with all the rain I have been mowing between storms and sometimes when a little damp still (not good) to avoid the too-long thing you mention. I sympathize!

  2. Bob Scherer says:

    I’m currently using a high tech manual push reel mower by Fiskars. My so-called lawn has been shrinking with the installation of hardscape and plantings over the years. I don’t have the ideal situation for the my lawnmower though. Uneven ground and islands of lawn sometimes makes for an awkwards traverse. I estimate a total area of about 1/4 acre has to be mowed. Due to moss, clover, & constant foot traffic, some sections need mowing once to every four times for the fastest growing section. This is in a garden of about 3/4 acre in my woods of 16 acres.

    Pros: super quiet, easy to push (in most cases), no pollution, no gasoline, easy cutting length adjustment, less storage space.

    Cons: won’t cut tall grass the way a traditional power mower will. If you mow before the grass gets really tall, and the tall seed stalks appear, it won’t be a problem. Otherwise the front of the mower will push them down & the blades will just spin over them.

    Bottom line: for small lawns (not yours Margaret) without obstacles, it’s a no-brainer. Especially for a good weed-free lawn (not mine!).

  3. DONNA MCCOOL says:

    We grubbed around the trees this year and put down mulch. My grandchildren took the afternoon and helped us, weed and weed whip. We have a truck garden and the weeds and bugs are getting the best of the two , of us old retired people. Our squash and cukes are blooming, but the leaves are as yellow as the blooms. I am digging up nut trees that the varmints thought they had hidden for the winter. Pecans, English walnuts, hickory nuts, and black walnuts. I wonder if I pot them if they will have nuts on when they reach maturity? If not they are beautiful trees, and maybe they won’t make a mess, with nuts. Donna McCool

  4. Judy says:

    I am trying to be weedeater free also. I dream about being lawn free, more pathways, more planting beds, but there is still some grass so since I work full time and can’t alway expect the weather to cooperate with my schedule, I hire a neighbor to mow, so I don’t even have to store the lawn mower.

  5. Judy in Kansas says:

    At age 70 I mow almost ten acres (minus house, barn and outbuildings. Have two riding mowers and two push (one self-propelled) mowers that get alternated. Of course I never get done – by the time I make it through one section, another has gotten away from me Weeks of rain and storms haven’t helped.

  6. Johanna says:

    I mow an acre with the riding mower, but I’ve been considering getting a push unit (probably gas) for the detail work, strips near trees, near fences, etc.

    After a few years trying to get a weed whacker that was strong enough for serious weeds (or plants in my septic prairie that I must cut down rather than burn), I think I’m giving up this year and going back to hand-powered cutters. At least then some of it will get done instead of me paying so much attention to broken weed whackers.

    I love the thought of a goat. If only you could encourage them to be more highly selective!!!

  7. Balsamfir says:

    2 elderly mowers and scissors for trimming. My clippers don’t trim well enough for me. Never is all done well at once. I admit that last week I was watching a landscaper with a biodiesel zero turn mower with two hydraulic wing decks that lift up like the planes in Star Wars and thinking that I wish I could win the lottery. Definite mower lust at this stage in the summer, but somehow I always end up with more plants and no new machines.

  8. sixtyfive says:

    Since nobody has mentioned so far, I will say that my latest love affair is with the Black and Decker battery-powered machine that I got on Amazon. No gas, no fumes, fairly quiet, and none of those infuriating start-up problems. Even with my lawn-reduction program in place (adding shrubs, groundcover, etc wherever possible) there’s still too much for an old-fashioned push mower to handle. But the long-term plan is to get to that place. Slight (but VERY slight) drawback is that the removable battery is quite heavy. I think that an extension cord (when I can locate one) will enable me to reach the outlet and recharge without removing it.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Sixtyfive…and fascinating! I am keeping an eye out for the next mower (mine is SO old and i cannot even believe it runs, talk about getting your money’s worth from something!). I will read up on these. I have a very tough spot, big and steep, so I wonder if these new mowers are ready for me/here. :)

      Hi, Balsamfir. I agree — clippers are not as good as a big strong scissors. Have never found any that work for me (though I have tried all the English grass shears and so on…but I cannot get the hang of it). See you both soon!

  9. We have a riding mower and I, like Margaret, have seen it more than I would like, in between the rains. Yesterday we received over 3″ of rain, parts of the yard are ttally flooded. This year we created a fenced raised bed garden (see website) and I got a 21″ mower to mow between the beds and a battery operated trimmer for the bed perimeters. I do actually like to mow. It has been my job since we moved here almost 20 years ago. It is great thinking time and you can see what you have accomplished. Now if the rain would stop!

  10. Rachelle says:

    My sister-in-law is simply enamoured with donkeys. When she and my brother bought their 4 acre farmsted, she immediately got three donkeys. This year with twin two-year old boys she decided to have her donkeys mow the lawn. She stakes out different sections and allows them access to different areas over the course of the week. They seem to understand what she tells them to do, they stay off the shrubs and beds, go back to the barn to poo, and do a very even job. I have to say I’m impressed.

  11. ann says:

    Our son threw my lawn mower away and tried to hire a lawn service. This year, the abundant rain and cool weather enabled lush growth and seems that they can not or will not keep up. My sister said she was in neighborhood with her lawn tractor and in 3 minutes had grass trimmed to perfection..Ten minutes later, more rain so seems like grass will need mowed in just a few hours. What is up with all this rain?

  12. Sue says:

    Very, very wet here in the Pacific Northwest this year. Mowing 5 acres with a 12 year old Craftsman riding mower. Takes about 12 hours a week to mow at this point. If we wait it gets too long and our work is much harder. Also, it concerns me because the baby bunnies and birds hide in the tall grasses. I have had one disaster in that area and don’t want another one. This lengthy chore will slow down by the end of June. At least it helps to keep me fit!

  13. Marie says:

    Ahh! Goats. I dream of a tiny herd of dear pigmy goats – no billy, thankyouverymuch!

    Here in the Pacific Northwest, especially Southwest Washington, we are plagued with blackberries. So, goats could ‘mow’ my 18 acres AND keep the blackberries in check, no matter how rainy it is or how long the grass grows. Yes, I dream of goats. My husband dreams of acquiring a twin to our John Deere 3 deck mower so he and I can mow together. Me, not so much. I’ve had bunny and snake ‘accidents’ with the mower so goats are my preferred addition to our grass and blackberry management system.

    Plus, goats easily ‘mow’ around headstones. We have about 8 acres taken up with an old pioneer cemetery with about 100 headstones. I hate to weed whack so I use hedge shears and hand trimmers to keep things neat. I’m headed out right now to tidy things up for the families who still visit on Memorial Day.

    Love Andre’s doodles. Always brings a smile.

    BTW: We have a Civil War veteran and a Spanish American war veteran, in addition to WWI and a few WWII. There haven’t been any burials since the 60s.

  14. Becky says:

    My front yard is not big…25′ x 15’…and it is all mixed use…mostly veggies with a few shrubsand perennial native plants in the shady and rocky areas. However, I included in my garden design a 5′ diameter circle of grass (my nap pad) that I cut with an old pair of sewing scissors. The scissors are sharper than the hand trimmers you can get at Home Depot and they feel better on the hand. (Like many of you, I abhor weed whackers!)

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Becky — and I love the idea of a “nap pad.” That is very funny. Agreed on the scissors versus clippers. You’d think the toolmakers would get the hint…comfortable in the hand is what we want. See you soon again!

  15. MiSchelle says:

    I mow my 10 x 24′ lawnlet with a reel mower and love it. Yep! 240 square feet – enough space to give our two tiny dogs a place to run and for us to lay down and contemplate the clouds. It takes longer for me to get the thing out of the shed than it does to mow, leaving my plenty of time for other more satisfying chores. The remaining 1/2 acre contains paths, patios, trees, veggies, and mixed borders that I love to putter around. Time consuming, sure, but one can hardly call it work. Mowing? Work!

  16. MiSchelle, you guys have the right idea. We have just over an acre and we let a nice piece out front with trees go back to nature as well as about 1/3 of an acre in the back. I think our biggest joy is walking the paths back there and watching nature evolve under the trees. Lots of wildlife back there. I would encourage anyone with a few acres to give some back to nature and stop mowing it.

  17. Carol says:

    I mow my front lawn, back lawn, and back-back lawn with a reel mower. Once I am able to get the grass to the right length, in general, then it is do-able. If it rains too much and the grass becomes too long to be cut that way, then I’m in real reel trouble! This week, I spent several hours weed-whacking the lawns, due to excess length, and now they look bald and patchy. Hopefully, in a bit, I will catch them at the right height to mow. At least my neighbors aren’t reporting me!

  18. Mary Lou says:

    I love my Honda HRX SELF PROPELLED 4 in 1 mulch,or bag, leaf shred mower. Each year I install more plantings and let more woods grow up so now I am down to about 1.5 acres of mowing. It only takes me about 2 hrs. once a week to mow.
    In upstate NY we have had an abundance of rainfall but I do not cut my grass real short. If it is left a bit longer, then the sun doesn’t hit the weeds and there aren’t as many, or so it seems. I work long hours so don’t have the time to exercise. Mowing is a great exercise and a good cardiac workout too. Some of my property is hilly and then there are the unlevel areas from the moles but it zooms over them effortlessly, the unlevel areas, not the moles. I probably should have invested in lawn rolling to roll out those bumps but they don’t give my lawnmower any problems. Good luck in your decision!!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Mary Lou. I love the leaf shred part of it…sounds like quite the machine. I have mole and vole damage all over the place, and this year the chipmunks are out of control as well. Holes big enough to lose your foot in! :)

  19. Gayla Meade Templeton says:

    I’ve finally reached the ripe ofd age of letting someone else do it. My darling daughter mows, my precious son-in-law digs the holes and I put what I want in the ground. He has offered to dig or get someone else to dig a new garden pond for me. I left mine behind when I moved closer to family so they can help me. With someone providing the man (woman) power, it leaves me a lot of time to plan what I want this yard to look like. It is pretty much fresh terrain as the yard hadn’t been touched in years. The house is completely restored to it’s 1910 glory but the yard was left for last. A lot has been done already and I am still trying to decide what can go where as there is a lot of shade. Ask me if this old lady is having fun! You bet ! I’ll never stop wanting more plants.

  20. gardengal says:

    I invested in a battery mower a couple of years ago when I had to give up my landscaping service due to recession. It’s great. It has paid for itself several times compared to pro service. I have some slight sloping areas that I can do across the slope easily. . One small area is a little too steep for me and the mower. Is it me or the mower? I think its me — LOL! The first battery was no good, but the replacement battery is awesome. I can do 3000-4000 sf on just 25% of available power. I like to break up the job in 2 sessions, but I think the mower could handle it all in one session.

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Gardengal. Yo are all getting me motivated to begin another round of research, thank you. Sounds like these machines are getting really good! See you soon, I hope.

  21. Annie says:

    I have a teeny backyard where i have been nurturing about 200 sq ft of grass (just enough to wriggle my bare toes in on a summer day), and just last week i clipped it with scissors. For real. It was kinda fun, and very silly.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Annie, and we are going to give you a pass to “mow” with scissors if you promise it’s not more than 200 square feet, tee hee. Beyond that, no permits for such behavior. :)

  22. Gayla Meade Templeton says:

    Margaret, this is completely off topic but just have to tell you that I was at the library yesterday and came across your first book, A Way To Garden. I read it several years ago but since I feel I know you now, I checked it out again. My new yard is a clean slate and I know your book was helpful the last time I read it. I just want to tell you that the book is a wreck! I can only wonder how many times it has been checked out. Some of the pages are loose and just stuck back in. Lots of pages have been turned under and someone even lightly underlined with a pencil. I can’t think of a nicer complement to an author than this. It was donated to the library by one of the local garden clubs and that too should please you. A lot of garden books come out every year and garden club members know a good one. They don’t have your new book but I have put in a request for them to order it. I should donate my copy but I am not ready to pass it on yet. I’ll pass it around family an friends first.

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