long-weekend rant: do you like to mow? (part 2)

tools-of-trade(A reprise of a favorite post, perfect for summer’s official kickoff.)

I HAVE A LOVE-HATE THING GOING WITH MOWING: I always feel it’s a time-waster, but I am also always relieved there’s “mowing to be done” since that means legitimate escape from things like writing the book I have due. Mowing has immediate, tangible results; you cut grass blades, and they look cut. You try to write and, well, sometimes you don’t get any words. So tell me, do you like to mow? We’ve talked about this before, and instead of repeating myself I could have checked that you’re following the tomato-growing tips and using a rain gauge when you water and pruning your fading lilacs…or asked if you’re almost done with the May chores list. But it’s a holiday, so before I go out to you-know-what (also known as avoid writing), I’ll simply ask if you like to mow, and also say one more thing: My frogboys, all my innumerable sisters and I wish you a happy, healthy, safe, delicious long weekend, mowing or its avoidance notwithstanding.

  1. margaret says:

    Happy Memorial Day, Ann and Bobster; nice to see you both again.

    Welcome to Amy, a happy veteran of two yards’ worth of mowing escapism weekly, and also welcome to J.R. Craigmile, who works things out behind the machine.

    I definitely understand both points of view, and I’m just in from mowing, too (and weeding, and repotting, and watering, and edging, and…).

    I hope to see both of you again, and thanks for visiting.

  2. Toby says:

    Hi Margaret. Love this site. I have a summer house in the Berkshires and since we’re college teachers we have a long summer, but I’ve had to hand over mowing to a crew so that in the spring and fall my neighbors don’t have to look at a mess. I actually miss mowing it. I like being in control. One of the problems is that the crew have their own schedule. Sometimes to my way of thinking they mow too often, sometimes not often enough. Most people in the neighborhood do their own mowing. I just wish we could figure out a way to all mow on the same day!! I’ve been getting rid of grass in by inch , but putting in larger and larger beds means more and more weeding. That’s one thing about lawn – unless you’re a perfectionist – keep it mowed and it looks nice and green.The weeds aren’t usually obvious. How fussy are you about your lawn? Did you see the recent article in the New York Times about bees dying and not to be so quick to mow down your dandelions? The bees will be attracted to them and pollinate your plants. (That’s the short version of the article; I think I got it more or less right.)

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Toby. I am not fussy about my lawn (which is simply made up of whatever grasses and weeds grow that I then mow). Hardly a real “lawn” as in grassy. I would need to use chemicals to make it a real lawn, herbicides in particular, and I just cannot. I did not see the article but will go look, thank you. See you soon again, I hope.

  3. Nemaslug says:

    I have to admit to finding mowing fairly cathartic as long as it is in small doses – less than an hour or so. However if I have to mow the front & back lawns + the paddocks in one go then I’m pretty bored by the end of it!

    The finished result can be very rewarding though, there is nothing that finishes a garden off like a nicely striped lawn.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Nemaslug. Yes, a nicely “striped” lawn from the even passes of the mower is a nice sight. Very satisfying. I hope we see you soon again, maybe between rounds of mowing? :)

  4. fern says:

    No, i don’t like to mow. On the 1 hand, it’s forced exercise, but until i mow front and back, i don’t feel free to do any other yard chores, and so i often run out of weekend time for the fun stuff.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Rose. One more “nay” vote duly recorded. :) I always feel like I am out of time, too, and you are right: having mowed and not “gardened” can be frustrating. Like nothing really got done, and no fun was had. Hope to see you again soon.

  5. Turling says:

    I have gotten rid of about 25% of the lawn, so far. Next year, the rest of the front lawn gets replaced with planting beds. I’m going to leave a small (and, I mean small) section of lawn in the back until the kids are older, then it’s being turned into a courtyard. I think that sufficiently shows my hate of mowing (and watering).

  6. woody plant girl says:

    It took me 20 years, but I have eradicated all of the grass on my lot. Now I have raised stone beds, gravel paths, flagstone terraces and NO GRASS. Gave away the mower, the trimmer, etc. Free from fumes. Still maintenance, but so much more pleasant.

  7. angela weathers says:

    I was wondering how fussy you are about your grassy areas, you never talk about it. Mine has lots of weeds and clover. I recently went on a garden tour and every garden that had a lawn had weedless, beautiful grass which really made me evious, but like you I don’t want to use pesticides and chemicals.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Angela. My “lawn” theory: Mow whatever grows on the ground that’s green, dig out dandelions in the most prominent spots, hope for the best. I don’t weed, spread herbicides, fertilize, or water. I have lots of weeds and lots of clover; sometimes I think that I should just buy a ton of clover and turn the whole thing into that. What a cooperative little plant.

      I am currently infested with “ground ivy” (Glechoma) because some key areas are getting shady as the trees grow, and also because the soil is compacted. I have tried a few rounds of core aeration and so on, but may have to strip what’s there and start over (again, not with chemicals). And then I get distracted and move on to something else. :)

  8. Bonna says:

    Love to mow! I am in total control and mow which direction I want, how high or low I want, mow how often I want, dump the grass clippings where I want,(I live in the country) think about what I want, sing if I want, use the push mower or the tractor which ever I want. I think you get the drift!

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Bonna. Now let me be sure I understand: You *like* to mow? :) Yes, I think I like it for all those reasons, many weeks, but when it rains a lot (like this year) and the choice of when to mow gets eliminated and one has to run out between storms…no matter what else is on the agenda…well, that has been a little irritating. Maybe I will try singing, next time. Good idea. See you again soon.

  9. Deb says:

    Mowing is a great thing for free-flow garden planning. Crack a cold Budweiser, put it in the screwed on peanut can, and off we go. The smell is wonderful, the yard looks neat and tidy, and I get great new ideas for my beds as I cruise by them several times, often seeing things in whole new ways.

  10. TC says:

    My answer to “Mow or no?” is the same as you feel about it. I enjoy the after effect much more than the before one. What with the new anti-lawn movement appearing to gain momentum, I’m almost afraid to mention that I actually get some enjoyment from the chore. My feet like it when their bareness touches that stuff, so, I keep a lawn – a safe one too – no chemicals, no fertilizers, nothing but grass and/or grass clippings.

  11. Fran says:

    I, too, have a love/hate relationship with mowing. I tried wild for a season but the mosquitoes and other insects were just a bit too close to the house for comfort, so I mow a lawn to keep the place civilized and the septic field free of tree roots. I love to bike. I would rather ride my bicycle than smell and hear the lawn mower. Often I ride the “country” roads near my house, my home for nearly 60 years. I get so sad when I see land that was once beautiful farmland, woodland and even successional fields given over to lawn. Worst is the Chem Lawn, aka Tru Green. All that chemical soup absorbing into the feet of dogs, cats, kids. I mourn the loss of wild places for the beleaguered wildlife. It breaks my heart when another wet place is drained and filled an housed. Fewer frogs and red winged blackbirds.
    Weeds? Mow high and cut their heads off before they set seed!!!
    In fairness, I do love the smell of freshly mowed grass and the evening’s green calm that it brings. And the satisfaction of a job done.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Fran. A great answer…covers all the dimensions beautifully. And yes, the lawn services that use all those products are the WORST. Not sure how people can even allow that knowing what we know today about the environment. Ugh. Hope to see you soon again; enjoy the bike rides!

  12. Angela says:

    I hate mowing. SO much that I let the grass grow really long before i cut it and then the mower dies struggling to cut through it. I probably have to start it up 6 or 7 times so the entire process takes that much longer. I have been accused of having a hay field which is a bit of an exageration but the point was made. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I could have a pristine weedless lawn but where I live we have a ban on lawn herbicides so it’s a bit of a challenge keeping up with it. I moved to a new house about 3 years ago and my focus is making new garden beds and rejuvenating the older shrubs of a very neglected garden.
    I previously had no lawn in my other house, it was all garden and I loved it! Unfortunately, it took a long time to sell the house because people just weren’t used to no lawn and weren’t ready to embrace a mower free existance. So I will begrudgingly keep my existing lawn and intend on eating up parts of it with more interesting shrubs and perennials.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Angela. I love the “eating up parts of it with more interesting shrubs and perennials” part the best. :) Hope to see you soon again.

  13. June Millette Fisher says:

    Margaret, I’m a mowing addict. At least that’s what my husband says…he chides me about being afraid of the lawn police should the grass get over half an inch high. Of course, that’s a wild exaggeration.
    For me, mowing is meditative. I love the views I get from my mower, going where I’m not always walking and watching. I love the smells of wild chamomile and many other wild herbs and grasses that share their essence with me as i buzz by but only in 1st gear now due to an injury. Going slowly makes it better because I watch the toads hop out of the way and have been known to stop for a butterfly just to be sure s/he wasn’t clipped. Admittedly, this year, I’ve had plenty of practice; I could mow every day and I will atop my 14yo John Deere in a day or two.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, June. Me, too. I love it at the moment. Makes me feel like I’m a good girl who ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING. :)

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, ZT. I have come to love mowing lately. I love seeing the tangible, instant results (though I must say I hate the noise and the heat exhaustion in high summer — yikes, hard to push that thing on this hillside about now!).

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Maggie — and me, too. Except sometimes this year, when it has required twice a week to keep it from becoming a hayfield. A lot of hours! But meditative in a funny way. And good exercise, yes.

  14. Lisa says:

    I don’t mow. Here in SoCal, water worries reign supreme. So I pulled out the lawn several years ago and left a heavily mulched space in its place. These days the area is a wide swath of california poppies… a golden reward!

  15. deborah levine says:

    I love to mow. I love the workout, and it is a way to visit the far reaches of my yard that I would never see otherwise.I get such a good feeling from pushing the mower.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Deborah. Me, too, USUALLY. Some weeks I get overwhelmed (when it’s hot like now!) but mostly I love it too.

  16. Rita Mortenson says:

    I actually got on here tonight looking for an alternative to mowing. We live on a double lot, on the corner of a cul-de-sac. It’s a big yard: I don’t like for my not-so-young husband to mow it, and he doesn’t like for anyone else to. So, why hasn’t someone invented a short, walk-on-able, green ground cover? Look at the $$ that would be saved, not to mention the pollution reduction. It must be the mower and grass seed lobbies, not to mention the fertilizer and poison makers. Or maybe it’s just the late hour and I’m imagining government plots to keep us mowing ours. ^__^

    If anyone knows of a plant that can replace grass and not need mowing, please let me know. It’s time to get the lawn ready for next year.

  17. Becca says:

    I used to despise mowing. We have a city lot and the yard isn’t very big – in theory it should take no more than 1/2 hour to mow everything . But our lawn mower was an old hand-me-down pull start gas thing, courtesy of my husband’s parents. Nice of them to give it to us when we first bought our house, but that thing was noisy, smelly, had no bagger or mulcher, and worst of all was next-to-impossible for me to start. When my husband was away and I had to mow I would resort to pushing the mower up against the deck steps (so it couldn’t go anywhere) and tying the handle “safety bar” down so I could use both my hands to pull with all my might on the cord.

    I moaned and complained about that mower for 6 years, all the while my husband insisted that it worked fine and started great – sure it did, for him with his 6 foot long arms that could whip the motor into action with one pull of the cord. One day last year after spending an hour trying to start it – including driving to the gas station to buy new gas for it – I just snapped. When hubby came home I told him that 1) he had to go mow that bloody lawn and 2) we were getting a new mower and he could either help me pick it out or just live with whatever I chose.

    Much to my delight even he had trouble starting the lawn mower that day, and shortly afterward he came home with a new cordless electric mower. It’s quiet, it mulches, it has a bag which we hardly ever use for grass but comes in handy for chopping up leaves and such, and best of all it starts with the push of a button.

    Now I love mowing!

    1. margaret says:

      A convert! Hi, Becca, and thanks for your story. I sort of miss mowing the last two weeks since the season here ended. But April will come soon enough again I suppose… :)

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