Saturday 20 June 2015

Mowing the Lawn: Options??

Have you read this joke about lawn care?  Pretty funny when you think about all the effort people put into keeping their lawns pristine.  The one line that sticks out for me is when God is confused by the absurdity (in reference to "suburbanites" and their obsession with lawns), "They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off?!".

Since 2004, I've gone from a 2 acre property, to part owner of a 49 acre farm and now owner of a six acre property (about 3 acres of which are pine forest, then the gardens; the rest being something else like "lawn").  As a residential property owner, this is on the large side of lawn to mow.  And for the 1st and 3rd properties, the previous owners were pretty particular about their lawn (manicured to the hilt) which always left me with a guilt trip about my lack of interest in mowing the lawn (and all the weeds that I seem to cultivate).

After years of mowing by foot (thankfully with a "self propelled" style of mower versus a full push mower), I finally purchased a "rider" this past fall.  I had a number of reasons for not choosing to purchase a rider mower in the past:
  1. The price of the mower
  2. My lack of mechanical ability to take care of it
  3. The extra use of gas (both cost and environment)
  4. I have a desk job so I liked the exercise (or so I like to say)
  5. Did I mention the price?
  6.  Will people think I'm pretentious?
  7. Does it make me seem lazy (see #4)?

Usually it would take me 4-5 hours over a week to mow 2 plus acres of "lawn"; some of it was the finicky bits but mostly just sheer size.  It would also consume many hours each week of anxiety thinking of the upcoming effort and trying to work it into my schedule (I work full time).  Or worse, the extreme anxiety every time it rained and I would have to figure out how long it would take to dry out so I could mow again.  And praying for hot weather so the lawn would just die and get it over with each summer.

Regarding #2 above, I will not bore you with the story of buying a used tractor style mower from a local business only to sell it back many hundreds of dollars out of pocket just weeks later.   But (and only as an aside) I will say that I'm thrilled with last October's purchase of a Toro Zero Turn mower.
I now have very little effort in mowing the lawn and I almost enjoy it now (I'm sure if I were a beer drinking guy, I would really enjoy it, but not so the case).  But that's not the point of this post ... what I'd like to know is if anyone has been successful in a non grass lawn.  I have moss here and there but can't see fully establishing a moss "lawn" as I get too much sun.

I love the idea of "landscaping without grass" and would be interested if anyone has done anything on either a small scale or large scale.  I'm sure I could sell this new mower to someone if I could find a good alternative to the lawn ... a shame that it would probably affect property value (not enough people into this kind of thing) but I'm not planning to go anywhere any time soon.

If you have ever seen or created your own "landscaping without grass", I'd be interested in hearing about it.


  1. I would think a non grass lawn would be a lot of work too. You would have to keep it weeded. I think nature does it best. Tall meadows are lovely. But in most places they will turn into forests if you don't cut them down a couple times a year with a sickle mower. Or you could get a few grazing animals.

    1. Yes, you are quite right about turning into forests - it seems within days of mowing I have poplars coming up all over and those darn maples seem to plant themselves everywhere. Sigh ... it's a nice dream, but not really feasible, huh?

  2. As a beer-guzzling guy, I don't think I would enjoy mowing that much lawn, but the mower is certainly cool. I have a small lawn that usually dies off about now from drought and the pine roots sucking everything out of it. I did think about meadow mixes, but they are unreliable and hard to maintain for long. And like Daphne says, if you don't mow them regularly (or burn them off, something your neighbors and the fire department may not sanction), they will turn into forests. Take Daphne's suggestion and get some sheep, or maybe pay a kid to do your mowing for you.

    1. I've been thinking of goats lately ... but need to make sure I'm ready for that kind of commitment. Maybe some day.

  3. I LOVE our riding mower - oddly enough, we actually use it more for things that have nothing to do with cutting the grass, like moving soil, mulch & compost. When we first moved here, we purchased a new mower, but inherited an old, rusty cart that you can attach to it & I remember wondering what on earth we would be using that for...well, it has turned out to be the MOST used piece of garden equipment!

    During the fling, we went to one house that had replaced their entire front lawn with creeping thyme. That's the most talked about alternative to grass in a sunny area, but I suppose the one big downside (and the reason I'm hesitant to do that on our hillside, a part of which I want to stop mowing as it's such a PAIN!) is the cost and work involved (ripping out sod, laying topsoil, setting in plants (which you can grow from seed, so the cost in that respect may be ok), etc. I'm still debating about what to do as well. I'll be interested to see if you come up with a solution.

  4. Yes, that can be problematic. With a growing lawn, you'll have more surface area to cover, which means more hours in mowing. Though I'd advise you to keep your lawn instead of having huge chunks of grass pulled out of it. You can look up various solutions that will help provide lawn care. Good luck!

    Kristina Cobb @ Denny's Lawn