Posts Tagged Lawn care
The detail-oriented (and there is nothing wrong with that) person spends an average of 4 hours a day tending garden and yard. Meanwhile, the more laid-back individual may clock as little as 4 hours a month. Let’s call them order-centric gardener and laid-back gardener for the time of this article.
The order-centric gardener tends to wake up early and may be found on hands and knees tending garden and yard before 6 am. She has made her bed, of course, and the house is in good order. In fact, she retired to bed last night only after making sure everything was just so. There is a place for each tool and every tool is returned to its rightful place between each use. Visual appeal is of utmost importance to this individual, who will be completely absorbed in weeding the garden to perfection, sitting on the garden seat for long hours, until the job is done.
Neighbors drive by on their way to the store and there she is, wearing the most serene smile, weeding as if she were trapped in a faerie ring (though she is not trapped but rather there by choice), repeating the same motion over and over. Two hours later, the garden seat and hose reel may have moved a few feet, but the gardener continues the same motions, unperturbed. She is in a different time plane.
Usually, the order-centric gardener is someone who delights in the many aspects of the harvest and takes the time to prepare elaborate meals and try new recipes inspired by the fresh produce at hand. “All senses are on alert,” they often say when asked how they feel about their hobby, and it is not so much a hobby as an intrinsic part of their entire being.
The order-centric gardener likes a proper place for each tool and a proper process for the harvest. Canning is not a chore, it is part of a process of life, beauty, taste, aroma and nourishment. The act of canning itself nourishes. For the order-centric gardener, there is never too much time spent in the garden or the greenhouse, yet the moment they step within the realm of that garden and greenhouse, time stops and stretches to accompany their every move.
The laid-back gardener has another perspective altogether. He or she fully appreciates the beauty of nature and its mysteries, but does not feel the pull of the soil; the irresistible urge to dig in and grasp the harvest at the roots, to connect with it. In this sense, the laid-back gardener is like a bird. He watches. He takes it all in, with peaceful, detached appreciation. He owns lawn care tools and equipment of course, and puts them to good use when so inclined.
For the laid-back gardener as for the order-centric type, mowing, weeding and tending the yard and garden require good quality tools, but are not a priority. This, my friends, is a person from whom we can learn. This individual is able to leave the dishes in the sink at night and read a book or watch a movie without being distracted by the thought that all is not in good order. Does anyone recognize a bit of themselves in this brief description? I can see some of this Granny here, quite easily.
We need to be able to laugh at ourselves, of course. This, I think, is a trait that is shared by the laid-back and order-centric gardeners: a sense of humor. And there is one more trait (perhaps more) that we share: the ability to be at peace in the moment. The order-centric gardener finds this while her hands are close to the soil; the laid-back gardener finds peace in taking in the entire landscape as is, without guilt for having allowed it to become what it is with little assistance.
The laid-back gardener may allow his lawn to turn into a small forest oasis. He will point at a corner and say, “See how beautiful it is?” Nature is his sculptor. For the order-centric gardener, nature is the sculptor as well and the gardener, its tools.
How Much Does Your Garden Reflect Your Personality?
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.
Diagonally would make an interesting pattern, but parallel to the house would be easier. Then again, perpendicular to the house would create depth. How short should it be? Is it a matter of preference or is there a scientific reason behind the golf green, besides accommodating the game? Should I mow every week whether it needs it or not or should I wait until the grass has reached a certain height? Is a rotating blade better than a reel blade?
As you might have guessed, we may be trading the lawn mower for a baler before we answer all of the above questions and finally take action. As with most everything in life, a balanced mixture of knowledge, gut feeling and personal preference is the proper way to go. So here is a bit of knowledge to consider. I leave the gut feeling and good taste to you.
Lawn mowing is a Cartesian activity, so let’s ponder logical questions. First, what sort of grass do you have around your property? Different varieties of grass thrive at different cutting heights and intervals. Experiment, but there are general rules of “green” thumb, so to speak: Grass grows healthier root systems the taller it is allowed to get. Taller grass also creates more shade for itself, which preserves moisture and further helps nourish your lawn. When the grass gets to the point where it is not unsightly, yet generates shade for itself, cut at 1/3 its height.
Once you have experimented with this approach, decide how high you are willing to let your grass grow between trimmings. Consider how healthy it appears. A mowing schedule will emerge naturally after just a few weeks. Remember, however, to always cut at 1/3 the general height. Do take into account your lawn mower‘s abilities and shortcomings. If it struggles in longer grass, then you must take this into consideration. Like any other yard work, if lawn mowing turns into a struggle, you are not going to enjoy your time taking care of the property and maintaining the beautiful environment for which you work so hard. Make it easy on yourself. Use the right equipment and use it smart.
How often do we turn a normal yard maintenance task into a nightmare? We curse our equipment or the task itself, forgetting that changing the situation may be as easy as changing our process. I used to have a neighbor who hated to mow his lawn because it took too long with his old mower and too much time after his work day. Someone suggested he do it on weekends. He responded that weekends were for playing. Someone suggested that maybe he could turn lawn mowing into something fun. He doubted that, but at about that same time he ended up deciding to purchase a new lawn mower because he had had it with the old, stubborn one.
The new lawn mower ran as smoothly as a chef’s whisk in light whipped cream (never thought you could compare a lawn mower to a whisk now, did you?). The next time said neighbor was seen mowing his lawn, on the weekend thank you very much, and the next time after that and the next, he was observed making a “vrooooom” sound with his lips has he walked up and down his front lawn with a light, cheerful spring to his steps.