Adventures in Green Lawn Care


| 6/14/2013 3:42:00 PM


Tags: lawn care, reel lawn mower, Leigha Dickens,

Grassy BackyardI hate mowing the grass. It’s hot, it’s messy, it usually triggers my hay fever, and it’s one of those repetitive tasks that never seems to get done: a few days after you’ve finished it, you have to go and do it all over again.

In addition to merely hating an odious chore, the environmentalist in me cringes to ponder the utter ridiculousness that is the American Lawn: that we would supplant native plants with exotic ones, waste such water in nurturing them, kill their competitors with potentially toxic chemicals, and nurture their roots with fertilizers that create runoff and are energy intensive to produce…only to go and use a fossil-fuel powered engine to cut them all short again at regular intervals. Back before Facebook, in the days of chain emails, my aunt once forwarded to me an amusing imagined conversation between God and St. Francis, highlighting this ridiculousness.

And it’s not only Americans: on a trip to Australia some time ago, when the country was deep in the middle of a drought (as it often is), one of my sharpest memories is the many apologies my Australian friends felt the sincere need to offer, because all of the grass was brown.

So in my own personal quest to rise out from under the Lawn Paradigm, but maintaining a desire to keep my neighbors from hating me, I purchased a “reel mower” two years ago, and stalwartly used it to try and maintain what I believed to be an acceptable level of shortness to my small urban plot of grass—no fossil fuels, pesticides, or fertilizers required.

And it worked. Sort of. Pictured here is a section of my tiny suburban lawn, fresh-cut with the reel mower. 

The upsides were that the simple technology accomplished the job much easier than I thought it would. It blasted through clover very much like the proverbial hot knife through butter, and I have found it vastly easier to turn and maneuver over the bumps and hills of my Asheville lawn than even the lightest of self-propelled push-mowers. Modern reel mowers are made of very lightweight materials. It is quiet, doesn’t assault the user with gas fumes, and reel mower manufacturers claim that the spinning blade which scissors grass, as opposed to a chopping blade which whacks the tops off, provides a healthier cut for the grass.




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