Monday, April 19, 2010

Let 6 Months of Mowing Hell Commence

Mr. Mows All The Time mowed this morning. He mowed on Wednesday or Thursday of last week. It hasn't rained here in I can't remember how long. So, how much plutonium is he using to justify mowing twice a week, as he will do until hell, er, the lawns freeze over in late October?

Yesterday my wife went to read on the garden bench in the morning. Read with an iPod even. She came in because our neighbor to the right began mowing his lawn.

Then as I was grilling dinner, the neighbor to the left mowed her lawn. Peaceful tranquility, let me tell you. I so enjoy the garden.

Saturday morning I was grading essays at the kitchen table, and slid open the porch door to some lovely weather. Within 10 minutes the back neighbor, on 3 acres, comes plodding along on his sit-down mower--WITH GIANT EAR PROTECTORS ON (like you'd see, oh, on aircraft carriers). What does that tell you? He had to mow his weeds, and I got to close my door and breathe my polluted indoor air.

This nonstop buzzing and whirling has me going insane. Two of my neighbors, including Mr. Mows All The Time, complete their 45-60 minute mowing cycles with blowing lawn clippings around. Mind you, we have 20-30mph winds quite often that cleanly and cheaply blow these clippings back on to the lawn.

Sometimes, I feel like the sooner we kill ourselves the better off the few of us left behind might be in the long run. That's a bad way to look at things, I know. Do people really enjoy mowing their lawn? Is this leisure time, connect with nature time, joie de vivre? Spewing stats at people does nothing--we have to feel the problem, emotionally. I need to figure this out. I'm tired of living an emotionally / culturally / socially constipated life.


Diana Studer said...

No they don't enjoy mowing their lawns (altho we had a push mower for the rented house. Mowing up and down, in stripes, using your own brute strength, is a meditative space.) And they whine about how much water it uses. 'But you can't HAVE a Garden without a lawn ...' We did. And we do. That's TWO gardens.

Gail said...

The lawn care business is a multi-billion dollar industry that has spent half a century or more brainwashing people to believe that a green lawn is superior and if you have one you are superior...Amazing how they have also convinced real estate agents that a big expanse of lawn is better for property values. HGTV bears some responsibility for that 'increases' property values and for the proliferation of 'safer to paint everything beige' mentality.

I am sorry you have to be surrounded by the noise! You would think that climate change would smarten up the very least the water shortages should.


Susan in the Pink Hat said...

So yes they do and no they don't. We have to remember that many people see lawn as their garden. And they see it as an uncomplicated garden. Of course they would rather not have to do anything with a garden at all, but this is the "easiest" and so it's what they have. I don't understand why people need tractor mowers for their 1/4 acre lots, though.

Jim Groble said...

Who's to know. The guy across the street from me mows twice a week and then walks around pickin who knows what up. The guy in back of us cut down 23 trees so he could grow turf grass. now he wonders why his yard is so wet. Duh! I mow when I have to. By July, I only mow every other week. but when I mow, I enjoy it because nothing says fine gardening more than yard mowing. or so says the commercials.

Randy Emmitt said...


here it is leaf blowers that drive us crazy! The mowers do make noise but all the houses here have woods in between them. Peacocks on the other hand call loudly all night, I'd rather have the mowers than this ^%$# peacock!

Noel Morata said...


i'm sure some guys like big lawns and toys that they can toot around in...that would drive me crazy too, although i probably would ask for all the grass clippings to make up for this :)

Christine B. said...

We haven't had the mowers start up for the year yet...never thought I'd be grateful for snow, but at least it's quiet. Well, it would be if that dog down the road would stop barking (all day!). I planted trees and put in a fountain for a road and noise buffer, but that would have to be one heck of a buffer to filter out a riding mower. Giddyup!

Christine in Alaska

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

I'm glad I don't mow next door to you, you sound likely to (((attack))) at any time!!!

Anonymous said...

I like your attitude, Benjamin! Your right to quiet is being trod upon, no stomped by the mowing of neighbors in a suburban area. I do believe the mowing is how they connect with nature, in their own misguided way. Anyone who mows twice a week loves doing it. Maybe it is you who needs the ear protection.

tina said...

You'd not like me as a neighbor, I cut mine at least two times per week. I LOVE mowing my yard and it is not weeds-mostly all grass and organically. Guess why? Because I mow it a lot and mow it properly. But I do understand your frustration. I try to mow mine only during weekdays (Tues/Fridays) and never on the weekend. Gotta enjoy that grill sometime:)

Carol said...

Oh I do feel for you and hate mowing. I have to do it though... until I can get rid of bishops weed and grasses that grow too tall... encouraging ticks... these crew cut lawns are another thing all together. After a certain time the growing season slows down and so does the mowing or so it should.

Sylvana said...

Gail's got it. I only mow when absolutely necessary. Like, I'm-losing-my-dogs-in-the-grass necessary.

I think I'd rather have the mowing over the neighbor blaring the scare-talk radio. Or the body shop down the hill from us spewing what smells like fingernail polish fumes into the air. Or all my smoking neighbors who wait for me to go out to the garden to suddenly pop out of their houses to smoke as many as they can as long as I'm outside. Most times I just give up and go inside. What a waste!

Turling said...

Friday nights after 6 and all day Saturday. That's when the gardener's decide to do the six or seven houses around us. I like Friday's and Saturday's when it rains.

Ellada said...

I have no problem, as you, with lawns.
If it were, I would talk to my neighbors, who frankly are very nice people.
In Greece, we are lucky, we can still talk, with our neighbors. And resolving problems in the neighborhood.

Benjamin Vogt said...

EE--In Nebraska, as in many parts of the world, water levels are low, and the spring rains haven't come. I'd liek rain to come adn wash away all the grasshopper eggs from last year's infestation.
Gail--I honestly don't think people know, really know, about climate change, and certainly don't see it. Then a lot don't beleive in it. May parents live in a hood of acre lots, and some of those lots are all sod!
Susan--A lawn is a garden? Oh for shame. I do want a straw poll--how many mow for fun or relaxation?
Jim--Yup. I mow when I have, which is when it's too hot and I die outside.
Randy--We discovered we have a peacock around here somewhere, but have never seen it. I used to live on a lake, and chainsaw seemed to buzz all year long.
Noel--In order to fall asleep at night I imagine that machine guns pop out of my roof and patrol the border of my 1/4 acre frontier. Passive aggressive? You be the judge.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Christine--Don't get me going about dogs! One starts, then another, then another, then it's an echo-y chorus for 360 degrees. I put up a fountain too, and the trees may help, in like 10 years.
Rob--I wouldn't attack you. You seem like a nice guy. Are you?
Frances--Ok. Ear protection. I will stop cleaning out my ear wax.
Tina--So if I mowed twice a week my lawn would be greener? Huh.
Carol--Oh no, Mr. Mows All the Time mows twice a week no mater what. And everyone around here scalps their lawns.
Sylvana--Well, you sem to have it worse. You win! What's the prize? Sadness.
Turling--Rain? What's that?????
Ellada--I'd move to Greece, but is the stereotype true about Greeks not liking Americans? Then again, lots of countries don't seem to like us as much. Wonder why. Hmmmm. Yup, here in the U.S. we scowl at each other through the fences. Or at least I do.

Anonymous said...

Mowing sucks big time. Sorry that your tranquility is interrupted by neighbors wielding petrol-belching lawn care equipment.

I think many people take PRIDE in a perfectly manicured lawn. It's their way of keeping up with and staying ahead of the Joneses.

If it's any consolation, our yard is bordered by four yards - and three of them have outside dogs for a total of five dogs. EVERY hour of EVERY day they are barking for some reason or another. Peaceful tranquility!? Not with all of the canine chatter going on!

Luckily, the lawn mowing isn't an issue - my neighbors hate mowing almost as much as I do.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Joseph--I don't like spending an hour going back and forth, back and forth.... I don't like the heat. I don't like the humidity. I don't like being seen by my neighbors. But, I'm very thankful I don't have a situation like you with other neighbors right behind you, and with dogs. I get so angry with all the barking dogs that are just elft out for an hour or two at midnight, 6am, and inbetwee. Let's start a cat commune!

tina said...

You bet. Very interesting the comments on mowing:)

Meredith said...

Personally, I hate to mow lawns -- but this is because mowing was assigned to me at age 15 as one of my chores by my father, who was by then understandably sick of it! I also don't like lawns much anymore since learning their environmental costs, which are huge (hello, dead zone in the Gulf!) and just because they're, well, boring.

Well-written post, and I'm just sorry it had to come from the depths of suburban lawn hell.

Jess said...

I am sorry. That sucks. As I see it there are many others like you, but they tend to migrate to cities (where small gardens and window boxes replace acres of lawn) or out in the country where nobody can disturb you and vice versa. The suburban dream, propagated in the 50s and still held high on the alter of nostalgia comes with a big lawn and all the garage gadgets needed to make it look carpet perfect, even though nobody actually goes outside! Gross generalization, of course, but I can't help but feel that way.

Layanee said...

When you are rich and famous you will own a one hundred acre spread and there will be no mowing except by animals. That is my wish for you anyway.

Connie said...

It would be nice if everyone turned their yards into gardens for growing food and/or used one of the new electric mowers, which I hear are pretty quiet....and no smelly fuel odor involved, either.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Meredith--I often get headaches after mowing the lawn, likely because it's hot, sweaty work, and the older I get, the less heat I can take. I also tend to not mow often enough, so when I bsolutely have to, it's 90.
Jess--Mr. Mows All the Time has a massive yard for our nieghborhood. As far as I can tell, only their two little yippee dogs use it.
Layanee--Your wish is my command. Or, by your command, cylon commander.
Connie--I was fortunate enough to have a cordless electirc mower gifted to me. It is like vacuum cleaner loud. Doesn't quite finish the job if the grass is long and wet (whichit always is for me), but it gets darn close.

Pam said...

When I first moved into my place - it was an acre of lawn with large live oaks, a small evergreen magnolia, one camellia, a water oak, and three dogwoods. And lots and lots of lawn. Slowly but surely I'm getting rid of it - I'd say that 50-60% is now planted - with a remaining 25% in lawn and the other 25% in...leaves and stuff. I kinda of let the leaves mulch for awhile, then jump in and plant. So I'm going in the right direction - but at the same time, I'm dependent on my mower to help me mow areas, like outside my front fence (that is about 200') that gets snakey as hell if I don't keep it mowed (and I'm horrible with those weed-whacker things). We have stuff down here that is crazy-invasive (I mean, there is BIOMASS) and that grows feet in a week, so if I skip mowing it for a month or so, it's out of control. My goal is to get my lawn down to ~20% of the acre (and just in one area - under the live oaks - where I never water because it's shady).

So I guess this is the deal: I think we should get away from nutty lawns (although I agree with the folks above, that alot of folks consider their lawn a garden) - but lawn mowers are a practical thing to me - and make certain activities (like controlling certain invasives) even possible.

Les said...

In all fairness we have no idea what hell goes on inside some homes that make men (and some women) want to surround themselves with deadening noise in a cloud of pollution for an hour twice a week in season whether it needs it or not.