The Garden Episode 1: Mowing

When we first moved in, we were in the midst of a drought. At the time I didn’t think much about the lawn. In the back of my mind, I planned to get a manual push mower. I didn’t want something loud and gas powered. The yard itself is relatively small. Certainly not big enough to merit a real mower…I thought.

Now— I feel it’s important to mention at this point that although I worked for years at the U.S. National Arboretum as a horticultural intern–and although I have a master’s degree in Public Horticulture–I have actually never mowed a lawn. I have never put on my sneakers and fired up the mower and walked back and forth until the grass was shorter. Somehow I just always got out of it. For a while being a ballerina was the excuse. Then later it was the landscapers and not the horticulturists who were responsible for mowing…

But about a week after our move it started to rain and then the grass really started to grow. I guess my time had come. I ordered my cute little manual push mower from Amazon. It took a long time to arrive (for a variety of reasons, one of them being that I accidentally had it sent to my old address.) Anyway, it finally arrived. Unfortunately the grass had gotten really long (like 8-10 inches long) I was not deterred however. I went out on the deck and started to put the mower together right away. Then (like the rookie I am) I dropped one of the nuts down the hole between the slats on the deck.

Now– being a master of science has obviously given me some wicked problem solving skills–but more importantly the master’s program has given me an alumni pin. A pin that happens to have a very strong magnetic back. I used this magnet as the “hook” in a fishing rod of sorts that I constructed to rescue my lost nut from under the deck. Would you believe that I was actually able to use this magnet to fish it out??? I was. Boy did I feel like the smartest, savviest person ever.

After the lawn mower was put together, I got started.


At first the novelty of it was awesome. I was wearing my new gardening gloves and it was a sunny day. It was really hard–I had to go over the same spot 10 times to see any cutting effect but still I could see my progress. After an hour I was about a 1/3 of the way done…After two hours, maybe two hours and fifteen minutes, I was closer to 3/4 of the way through. But I was sweaty and sunburnt and the grass was really not what I would call mowed. The novelty had effectively worn off. And I’m not kidding the yard is literally really small.


The whole idea started to seem like a colossal waste of time. I could literally not remember why I thought a manual lawn mower was such a good idea. Luckily a friend brought me an electric mower to finish the job. Was I ever thankful.


True to self, (read stubborn) I got back out there the last two weeks with my little manual mower- now that the grass is a reasonable height– it is actually pretty easy and fast–probably not relative to the short amount of time it would take to use the electic mower, but I have no idea because again I’ve never mowed a lawn before. The lady next door is also an avid gardener. She mows her own lawn with an electric push mower and uses a weed whip! She is over 70 and it seems like nothing to her. Today she saw me mowing with my cute little push mower and said she assumes I’m doing it for exercise. That’s a good excuse so I’ll take it for now.




One thought on “The Garden Episode 1: Mowing

  1. Hello Laurie,

    You must send me a photo of the manual mower you are using. I have a love/hate relationship with a rotary one from my youth (that would be several years ago); the blades always needed sharpening and I never had the correct oil to lubricate those neat moving parts. And the mowable yard was not large. Meanwhile here are a few suggestions if you insist on push rotary mowing: a.. Make sure the blades are sharp and parts well oiled! b.. Always mow right before you think it needs it……in other words, while it is still short. c.. Mow the perimeter first, one continuous cut if possible, then mow in straight lines……maybe! d.. Use a different mow pattern as often as possible, including a beautiful diagonal cut occasionally. e.. Finally, learn to enjoy the wonderful sound of those turning blades. It’s the mechanical version of rain on a tin roof! Thanks for sharing. If I were there I would mow for you…….if the pay involved a G&T.

    Love and kisses to all.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s