Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mr. Mows All The Time Waters All The Time, Too

I just can't stand not saying something. If you don't have anything nice to say, blog about it.

Mr. Mows All The Time is watering his yard. It is 100 degrees at 5:30 with a 115 heat index, blazing sun, no breeze though. Their lawn is ever so slightly browner than last week in this heatwave. Keep in mind he mows so often (mowing makes grass release moisture) and so low, that it seems brown right after he mows, so they also water then. Mow, water, blow, fertililze, water, mow. No trees.

So, let's play multiple choice here, winner gets a free copy* of my forthcoming book Sleep, Creep, Leap, which features a chapter on Mr. Mows:

Assuming one hour of watering yields 0.5" of water, how much of that water makes it to grass roots while watering during the hottest part of the day?

A) All of it. I'm insane.

B) At least half of it. Or none of it. Well, not much I'm guessing since you're so upset about it.

C) Do I want deep roots or shallow? Shallow.

D) I hate these kinds of questions. Reminds me too much of the SAT or GRE, and the college my parents wanted me to go to but wouldn't admit me because I fell asleep filling in bubble sheets early on a Saturday morning.

Point is, worst time of day to water. Mow less. Maybe plant a tree--or some native flowers and grasses that do the heat well and reduce the amount of lawn (and the effort / $ / resources you expend outside).

*free copies are invisible

12 comments:

Randy Emmitt said...

Benjamin,

When I lived in Ohio we had a neighbor that mowed his grass so low it browned out every summer and looked awful.

Remember Forest Gump said Stupid is as stupid does.

Benjamin Vogt said...

I try to forget everything Gump said. Life is like a flat of milkweed....

Casa Mariposa said...

If my suburb ever seceeded, it would be renamed Chemlawnia. When I teach my water unit (6th grd science) I get on my anti-fertilizer/water conservation pulpit and never get off. I'm always blown away by the number of sprinkler systems that run during rain storms. It's so frustrating!!

Thanks for the butterfly comment. I'm headed into the city (DC) in a week or two to talk to one of the horticulturalists at the Botanic Gardens. I'm really curious to hear what they have to say.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Unfortunately, I missed the chance to answer the door when Chemlawn (that's what they really are, name change or not) rang my bell. That guy would've been in for an ear full.

Saw a monarch, tiger swallowtail, and either spicebush or black tiger swallowtail today. Amazing. Amazingly late!

Tracy Seeley said...

In Michael Pollan's early book 'Second Nature: a Gardener's Education,' there's a brilliant and funny chapter on the history and practice of lawns in the US, called "Why Mow?". I highly recommend it. And I think you can find that chapter online by Googling. Cheers!

Benjamin Vogt said...

Tracy--That's one of my favorite books! I read it as part of my dissertation booklist (I fit it in there, I mean). I love that chapter where he recalls his dad mowing insults into the lawn, something I've thought about. I saw you're also a fan of Terry Tempest Williams--I assume you also enjoy Scott Sanders?

Lucy said...

I think some people genuinely enjoy mowing for its own sake - a sort of meditation or escape.

Lucy

P.S. The word verification is 'yardiale' which I think could be used in contrast with pastorale.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Lucy--meditation adn escape, absolutely. But for some people, shooting endangered animals is the same thing. Still not good. Yardiale--the vision of a flat green expanse which requires intensive maintenance; a twisted dream fo the pastoral; insanity.

Joe said...

Great post! I found an entertaining and great article on lawns that I thought you might enjoy: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/2011/06/the-lunacy-of-the-american-lawn/

Benjamin Vogt said...

Joe--That was a FANTASTIC piece, with so many truths. I'm glad ADHD and lawn chemicals was mentioned, and how long they take to break down once brought inside. Lovely. I know when we / if we ever have kids, shoes come off the second we come inside--and I will eat dirt with my kids.

Les said...

I have a neighbor like that too. However, he does not mow so much, but he waters, by hand, all the time. His yard is well established with very drought tolerant junipers, silk flowers and a St. Augustine lawn, which needs no extra water. More telling is that he usually has a drink in hand and is well on his way to being lit up when I see him. I know his house is full of in-laws and various children and grandchildren, so I think watering is just an excuse to get out of the house and drink.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Les--I'd be outside with a drink, too. I understand his motive, but there are more benign ways to get three sheet to the wind. Mr. Mows All The Time just moved, and on the very last day he mowed and edged his lawn one more time. Now that he's gone, the yard is going brown fast. Alas. Need a house in NE?