Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lawn Mowing Lessons Learned

I'm going to try to keep up with daily blogging and I thought using the National Blog Posting Month theme might help.  This month's theme is green, which can of course be interpreted and discussed in about a gazillion ways.  Today will be all about lawn mowing.  My home in Virginia was a townhouse with a postage stamp sized front yard that was covered with the shade from a lovely pear tree.  No need to mow there.  It became a bed of mulch with some shade loving plants scattered here and there (mostly where I could manage to dig a hole around the tree roots) so I haven't had much experience mowing in the last 15 years really.

Fast forward to the house I just moved into recently.  First, its a house which means it has a real yard.  Not a big yard, but a real yard nonetheless and there are two slim side yards and a courtyard in the front of the house too.  Lots of mowing space, even for a small property.  Its not exactly chock full of lovely grass, but there is alot of grass growing in the sand and dirt combo that seems prevalent here near the water.  Some pretty ground cover plants too, and it seems a shame to mow them down, but you can't exactly mow around them, now can you?  I was thinking I'd get a reel mower since I didn't want to deal with gasoline or a crazy long extension cord.  But the very nice man who does maintenance for my landlord brought me a small mower one day that someone had given away, and it works great.  Its 22 inches wide so its very manageable for a girl like me and I am actually enjoying it, and I've learned a few lessons along the way.

Lesson number one:  gas mowers need to be primed.  Feel free to laugh hysterically here.  Since it was a hand-me-down mower, I didn't get any manual or anything with it and although Max told me how to start her up when he brought it over, I had completely forgotten.  All I could remember was that you need to hold down that little bar.  After some frustration, I finally found the little red priming button and BINGO! Started up like a dream.  Not that I normally dream about mowing the lawn, but there it is.

Lesson number two:  When you're mowing a combination of grass and what we'll generously call ground cover (ok, its alot of weeds), its perfectly acceptable to NOT mow in straight lines just like your dad did.  You know, like this:

Click to read an interesting article on how to achieve this

Growing up in Buffalo, we had a large yard with lovely grass and my dad would carefully mow it in straight lines because that was the best way to go - it was easiest and it appealed to his need for symmetry, like all engineers.  Square yard equals straight lines.  My yard has a huge oak tree in it, with roots above the ground and a flowerbed in front of the courtyard wall that has a lovely meandering border.  No straight lines here.  I was a little uptight about that the first time I mowed it, but I quickly learned that you can't see how I've mowed this lawn, you can only see that its shorter than it was yesterday.  This is very good for me, since its impossible to mow straight in certain areas in this darn yard.  Get a grip, Ellen - who is uptight about these things, anyway?

Lesson number three:  If you mow the lawn in your old running shoes with the mesh inserts over the top of your foot, the mower kicks enough dirt and sand back at you that your feet actually get dirty!  Now I don't just mean your sneakers, I mean your FEET!  I should pr0bably be mowing in my construction boots.  I was horrified to see not only the dirt around the top of my socks but dirt IN my socks.  Can you believe it?  The dirt is propelled so strongly that it goes through two layers of fabric.  Gee, can you tell where my socks ended?  Too funny! 

Ah well, all's well that ends well, right?  I now have a beautifully manicured lawn and after I swept up all the grass clippings from the sidewalks and the driveway, I am quite sure I lost a pound or two.  Its sweaty work when its 93 degrees outside, even if I was in the shade for the most part.  I felt too gross to grab my camera for a final shot so you'll just have to believe that its lovely.

See you tomorrow!

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