Mowing offers some interesting conundrums for an eclectic dinner party conversation. It is a bit like folding the fitted sheets when you take them down from the clothes line. Do you fold the corners first or fold in half and then try to tuck in the corners nicely? Do you mow in ever-expanding circles around your trees, crop-circle style?
The previous article in this 2-part segment gave an overview of basic mowing strategies pertaining to how often to mow and how short to cut your grass. In this part, we will explore the science behind mowing patterns as well as basic safety considerations. We have not yet resolved whether there is a reason to mow in one direction or another, so let’s begin with this.
Lawn maintenance experts advise to change directions about every other time you mow. Thus there is a science to the perpendicular and parallel lawn mower choreography. They also recommend adjusting your lawn mower to alternating cutting lengths. Both strategies will ensure a more natural looking lawn. Varying the length, ever so slightly, compensates for the inevitable scalping of uneven lawn sections. Linear mowing also cuts down on your mowing time.
We each have our own style when we do yard work and with tasks that present some challenges we tend to let our ego get in the way ever so slightly. Take the inclined lawn, for example. How do you tackle that hill with grace? The neighbors or occupants of cars passing by may have an opinion about your lawn mowing style. You must appear confident and sure-footed. Not only that, but at some level we all have a natural inclination to approach nature as an adversary we must conquer. We will not let that hill defeat us! Confidence begins with safety, hence the science of hill mowing.
Mow across hills; never up and down, not even if you have come up with a clever contraption to allow you to stand at the top of the hill and hoist the mower up and down with a pirate ship’s pulley (I confess that I have done this in my youth and it was more struggle than it was worth). Have you ever noticed the moisture bead that forms on the surface of a fresh cut when you trim a house plant? It is the same with grass. For this reason, freshly cut grass can get rather slippery. Add the incline, and you have all the ingredients for a slip of the foot right into the lawn mower blades.
Furthermore (Granny is not done… “listen to your Granny” once said Goatman Dave at Emerson’s Acre), take a stroll around the yard before you begin mowing to remove any object or obstacle, including the sprinkler head, even if the hose is not attached to it and you were going to mow around it. A moment of distraction and that little device will send you to the emergency room.
Mowing is not rocket science, but there is a science to it nonetheless. As for the science of folding fitted sheets… someone should invent Velcro corners that open up flat for storage. We’ve got gardens to tend and a lawn to mow and little time to fight with the sheets.