The Real Green: Lawn Maintenance

When I moved into this house 5 years ago, I had very lofty dreams for my back and front yards. I’m not actually a big fan of grass – in the case of my own home, I don’t see the point. It just sucks up water. I don’t have kids who play on it, so it basically never got “used” except by my dog, who loved to roll around on it or sprawl out in the sun.

I had dreams of ripping it up and putting in a garden in the front and the back – but of course, I could not, as I am only renting this place. I was blessed that the landlords allowed us to rip out a small section in which to put a garden bed and I used the bed for many years, quite happily. But the lawn remained a constant annoyance, requiring an absurd amount of water to stay green during the hot summer months and an equally absurd amount of upkeep. (I don’t mind spending a lot of time in my yard to maintain features I like – such as the garden bed – but I don’t enjoy spending hours every week taking care of the lawn.)

In the early years, I was so idealistic. I wanted to do things “old school,” as far as lawn maintenance. No fossil fuels, no noise pollution… Which left us with the option of a push mower. I was so proud of that mower. Until about 3 months in. I got tired of raking up the grass cuttings (we didn’t have a mower with a bag attached) and it was so exhausting to use that thing. If I didn’t mow at least twice a week, I could barely get the mower through. Needless to say, despite his added strength, Former Boyfriend hated it, too.

His dad bought an electric mower one day at Goodwill and was kind enough to let us borrow it each week. I stopped caring about the noise pollution (that thing was loud!) and was just happy to have something that worked more easily than the push mower! It was still cumbersome, wrestling with the cord while mowing, but it was better than what we’d had!

When our house sold to a new landlord, she insisted on the one thing I had adamantly refused for the prior four years – herbicides and chemical fertilizer. There was no winning that argument, and she treated both the back and front yard. I’ll admit it – the lawn has never looked better. However, I don’t find much joy in gardening at this point, as I don’t want to eat things growing in soil surrounded by chemically-treated grass.

After Former Boyfriend left (with the electric mower), I was pressed to find a mowing solution that would work for me. Thankfully, the landlord had a spare lawn mower and has given me to use it at the house. And it’s a gas-powered mower, something I swore I would never use!

But at this point, it’s all about just doing what I can do. For the most part, I really don’t like the mower. It is very hard to start (“one pull start,” my ass!) and makes me smell like gasoline once I’m done. But it does move faster than any mower I’ve had in the past which has cut back my mowing time from nearly 2 hours to about 30 minutes. Can’t beat that! And since I’m taking care of this house all by myself now – time is an important factor.

I still have my dreams – dreams of owning my own home and being able to “de-grass” the yards and fill it with something far more beautiful and useful than grass. And if I do have grass, I hope to be able to find a mowing situation that works for me but also is a green choice.

In the meantime…I’m compromising.