Any Way You Cut It…

Johnny-on-the-Spot

It’s been said that confession is good for the soul.

I confess to being a “lawn nerd”.

There!

I said it.

I don’t actually dread lawn mowing.

For me, the only time lawn mowing becomes tedious is when grass altitude conflicts with the weather or my schedule.

Over the years, lawn mowing has allowed me to think things through, munch of salted sunflower seeds in the shell or listening to my music.

The added bonus in the summer is to relax poolside with a cool adult beverage or two.

Now I’m not “average” but the typical American spends 4 hours per week caring for the lawn.

Our current lawn is easily a half-acre and it takes one person pushing about 90 minutes to cut.

Add another 30 minutes if you bag which I occasionally do because I like to compost.

Riding the tractor turns the task into a little more than an hour.

Those figures increase by 15-20 minutes if trimming is involved.

In America, there are 21 million acres of private lawns that need clipping.

That’s probably why one in five of us hire professional lawn care people to do the work.

We spend $30 billion annually on lawn care which requires about 800 million gallons of gas.

There are 5M lawn mowers sold every year in the U.S.

Statistics reveal about 15% of those sold today are battery-powered electric models.

I’ve detailed the experience we had trying an electric lawn mower in an earlier column.

I need a few more advances in the technology and cost before I jump in with both feet./

Now, someone has calculated an average lawn mowing creates air pollution equal to driving a car 200 miles.

But, just a 50 foot by 50 foot lawn releases enough oxygen to care for one human being for one day so I figure I’m covering for my family’s daily oxygen needs and then some.

Did you now “lawn” comes from the English word “launde” which is a glade or opening in the woods.

Formal, well-maintained lawns were “vogue” in the European 16th century.

Englishman Edwin Beard Budding is credited with creating the world’s first lawn mower in the 1830’s after observing a cutting cylinder operating at a cloth mill.

That means those early Europeans probably left the grass-cutting to grazing animals, scythes and sickles.

At least the animals would produce a little fertilizer while they worked.

Thomas Green and Sons in England further perfected the grass-cutting machinery with the “Silens Measor (silent cutter) which used a chain drive from the rear roller to facilitate the cutting cylinder.

There was a steam-powered lawn mover in the 1809’s that was pulled by a horse wearing soft-leather boots so the turf wouldn’t get marked up.

In 1902, Ransomes Jacobsen created the first gas-powered mower which preceded the Ideal Power Lawn Company’s first American-manufactured gas powered mower in 1915.

Gas-powered grass-cutting didn’t really take off in America until middle-class vogue made lawn-mowing “cool” in the post World War II United States.

Until then, the hand-pushed “reel blade” mowers were generallt used.

Today’s models have multiple blades and are still quite sufficient for “postage-stamp” yards.

The Briggs and Stratton folks revolutionized lawn-mowing in 1953 with the first light-weight aluminum engine.

In 1969, the “Mowbot” became the first self-propelled lawn mower.

Today’s popular “zero-turn” mowers have actually been around since 1955 when the “Ride King” came out.

In 1995, “Solar Mower” hit the scene as the first fully-robotic solar powered lawn mower.

For young lads in America, you earned the honor of using the power mower in the summer from Dad.

I used to push the old rotary-blade cutter until the old man decreed it was time I learned how to start and use the old Craftsman model we had.

It’s funny because I never remember seeing my Dad tune it up or sharpen the blade on that beast which could throw a rock 50 feet if you weren’t careful.

I learned by small engine care practices from my Father-in-law, Ted.

There was no bagger or mulching pieces on that old Foster mower.

Wind rows of cut grass lined the Foster yard on Crestwood Drive for many years in the 50’s and 60’s.

Today, I make my wife crazy with my grass-cutting methodology.

I find wind rows to be abhorrent and muddy wheel marks make me crazy.

To me, the perfect mowed yard looks like it hasn’t been cut.

I also like to change my mowing direction to keep the grass blades on their toes.

We currently have two self-propelled mowers and a riding tractor but to be honest with you, we like walking the grounds of the palatial Foster estate behind a mower.

It’s good exercise and in the cool of the evening, even on hot days, it can be a pleasant way to pass the time. while doing something constructive.

There’s actually a lawn mower museum in Great Britain and I would like to see one of those steam-powered units that was pulled by a horse.

A little closer to home is the Lawn Mower Museum and More in Missouri, home to over 170 vintage and modern mowers.

I gotta tell you that I believe one of the finest aromas in the spring is the smell of that first cut grass.

How about that bright green hue on your shoes after mowing?

Some consider mowing a time-wasting chore.

Me?

When I have the time, it’s a great way to empty my mind and give the old homestead a nice look.

See you “in the yard”.

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