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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

M is for Mowing

I hate mowing the lawn.

This is not a matter of lack of energy, though it is a matter of time. Mostly, though, it's a matter that I really like seeing the wildflowers growing in the back yard and really hate mowing them down. All things being equal, I'd rather hire a goat to keep the grass down.

Still I found some interesting narratives and statistics. I've discovered that the country's great obsession with the lawn is fairly recent, though the lawn mower, has been around since the 1830s.

In the 1930s, U.S. lawn mower sales held at about 50,000 units annually. Following World War II and the American migration to suburbs, homeowners began to take a growing pride in tending their lawns, hedges, and gardens. During this same time, new grass seed varieties were also being developed, and the quest for the "perfect" lawn became a popular hobby and a point of pride.

I understand this abstractly, but basically the lawn obsession is totally foreign to me. The neighbors might care, however.

Reel mowers were the standard home lawn grooming device until the 1950s, when gas-powered rotary motors developed into more than a rough cutting tool. By the end of that decade, power mowers outsold reel mowers by a margin of 9 to 1. The rise in the popularity of power garden equipment was accompanied by a corresponding surge in lawn mower accidents—wounds from flying debris and toe and finger amputations. In the mid-1990s, design changes combined with news stories about equipment safety have raised public awareness.

I have a reel mower now. It uses no gas, no electricity, makes a minimal amount of noise. I will admit, however, that the overly rainy June and July made mowing difficult, not only because mowing wet grass is more difficult, but also because the rain made the grass grow faster.

One of my neighbors was considering buying a reel mower, but after this last summer is far less inclined.

In 1972, the federal Consumer Product Safety Act created a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); one of the initial concerns of that agency was power lawn mower accidents. At the time an estimated 77,000 people each year were injured by the whirling blades of this equipment. Following 10 years of CPSC data gathering and testimony from experts and consumers, the first safety requirements for power lawnmowers—the deadman control and blade housing and shield designs to prevent foot injuries—were adopted.

Something that operators of reel mowers have never had to concern them,selves with.

The Environmental Protection Agency continues to be a strong motivator when it comes to improving lawn and garden equipment. It has been the EPA's position for some time that lawn mowers are significant polluters. A recent EPA-funded study compared gasoline mowers typically used across the country with cordless electric mowers. Gasoline-powered equipment emitted eight times more nitrogen oxides, 3,300 times more hydrocarbons, 5,000 times more carbon monoxide, and more than twice the carbon dioxide per hour of operation compared to the electric models.

The EPA study concluded that if just 20 percent of U.S. homeowners with gasoline mowers switched to cordless electric mowers, there would be annual emissions reductions of 10,800 tons of hydrocarbons, 340 tons of nitrogen oxides, 84,000 tons of carbon monoxide, and 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide.


And if they stuck with reel mowers, it'd be even better.

ROG

21 comments:

anthonynorth said...

Ah, one of my pet hates - mowing the lawn. It never seems to stop, especially as we've had a very rainy summer too. But as always, you fill your post with interesting facts. I really enjoy coming here.

Mara said...

The best lawnmower I've ever seen is a small robot that runs on electricity. Basically you fence off the area you want mowed, put a powerpoint somewhere in that area and let your robot loose. It will go out every single day, mowing away. When it meets an obstacle like a chair or the underground fence, it will turn around and go another way.
I first really saw them at work on an Italian lawn and it was brilliant! Like huge turtles...

Rose said...

Or they could turn their whole lawn into a garden:) My husband is the mower here, and we have about 5 acres to mow, so you can imagine how long it takes him each weekend--usually about 6 hours every Saturday. He actually looks forward to winter! Originally, part of our yard was a sheep pasture; perhaps we should go back to that:)

Rose said...

Or they could turn their whole lawn into a garden:) My husband is the mower here, and we have about 5 acres to mow, so you can imagine how long it takes him each weekend--usually about 6 hours every Saturday. He actually looks forward to winter! Originally, part of our yard was a sheep pasture; perhaps we should go back to that:)

Sistertex said...

Very interesting.

Sylvia K said...

Interesting post! I'm with you though, rather see it grow wild, but as you said, the neighbors probably wouldn't be too pleased!

Have a great day!

Sylvia

RuneE said...

I love dandelions and hate to mow the lawn (we have two!). But I can proudly say that we use electric mowers...

Moss is also green.

Leslie: said...

My man is one of those kinds who loves to mow the lawn because it's a time he can just mellow out and be in his own head. And he enjoys the look of the lawn afterwards as he checks over the mower to make sure all is well with it. And I do appreciate all his efforts to make the house curb-appealing. But I know for most, it's a chore.

Martha in PA said...

I have a dislike for mowing too. My dad loved to mow the grass. Gave him time to be alone with his thoughts he said! Meditating while mowing maybe?

My ABC & Watery Wednesday

Leslie said...

I like the goat idea....

Buenos Aires Photoblog said...

I don't hate mowing the lawn, I hate when my neighbors are mowing. ;)
Anyway, mowing can be almost meditative unless you use one of these oversized gasoline mowers for your 1 acre back lawn.

Joy said...

I like those people that mow them stripey. Wild flowers is the way to go, just tell the neighbours you are helping the wildlife.

Grace and Bradley said...

If you have a half acre of land what will be the easiest way of keeping it nice and neat, have a lawn. On the other hand, I do not think lawn is the most "GREEN" thing and most environmentally friendly. Not only the pollution caused by the lawnmower, the amount of water, weed killer, insect killer, chemical fertilizer that need to be used are astounding. But our home owners are lazy people we love our lawn.

magiceye said...

hope the switchover to reel mowers is high!

Reader Wil said...

I hate mowing too. I had the same mower you have and a nice neighbour mowed my lawn when I was away on holiday. But I had my garden tiled and that's much easier!

Irene said...

We're not a lawn society here. Lawns are usually public spaces, mowed by foreign workers, using very noisy cutting blades.

jabblog said...

Mowing the lawn is a pain but the smell of cut grass more than compensates for it - unless of course you suffer from hay fever!

swapna said...

That was indeed a different thought to hire a goat....feed the poor fellow and hear a satisfied bleat :)

In this part of the world, not much lawns.miss the green!

Nice M post.

Beverley Baird said...

For several years I lived on a half acre and had what I called a "push-me-pull-me" mower. As you said - those real wet days when the grass grew and grew were oh such a struggle. Add a ditch and I was almost worn out after an afternoon of mowing!
A new house, a new husband who doesn't mind mowing - and I can relax a bit - plus an electric mower!
Great informative post!

Tumblewords: said...

I absolutely gave up this year - my yard is small, the mower is electric but I just didn't love it enough to bother - have no idea if there'll be grass next year or not. Wondering if I'll care??? :) Excellent post - left me 'reeling'.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

A few people have turned their lawns into meadows near here...and BOY! do they get a ton of flack!