Lawn Mower Fun Stuff

By   December 1, 2015

Lawn mower fun sounds like the product of a twisted mind, but mowing the lawn gives you time to think.  Mowing doesn’t take a lot of brain power, and sometimes my mind wanders off to strange places. It might kill my credibility as an author, but here’re a few of my stranger thoughts.

Sheep grazing. Viewed from this side, it's an early lawn mower. The other side is a fertilizing machine.

Viewed from this side, it’s an early lawn mower. The other side is a fertilizing machine.

The first lawn mowers weren’t machines, but they were multifunctional. Grass goes in the front; fertilizer comes out the back. All while standing on four hooves.

History tells us that private grass lawns became popular in 17th century England. Before that, lawns were mostly public areas where anyone could graze their livestock, hence the term “commons”.  Some were surrounding a village or castle, where lawns served the dual purpose of providing hay and keeping the fields open so that intruders could be seen.

Private lawns gained popularity in England though as the wealthy considered them a status symbol. Only the very wealthy could afford the manual grooming necessary to keep them looking good (or at least looking better than their neighbors).  Fine textured grass seed was rare, and finer textures were often imported from Scotland where they grew wild.  Mowing was done with a scythe, and the ground was leveled with big wooden rollers.  Fertilizing was still done with manure.  The lawn was off limits for a while after fertilizing. Many of these early lawns weren’t grass at all but consisted of fine textured ground covers.

And so, I often think back to those early town common lawns and seriously consider buying a goat.


 

No Work Involved Lawn Mower Fun

Lawn mower fun can be from a no-work involved robotic mower.

Lawn mower fun can be from a no-work involved robotic mower.

Modern technology is finally catching up to one of my other lawn mower fun fantasies.  Way back in the 60s, when I used to spend my lawn mowing earnings to buy comic books and popular mechanics magazines, there were predictions that the task of lawn mowing would soon be taken over by robots.  It looks like microcircuits are finally making that happen.

Early attempts had trouble mowing all of the lawn.  Like a child’s toy, they just ran around in any direction, turning only when they hit an obstacle.  Some models tried following buried wires but “jumped the track” and got lost easily.  Others weren’t self-controlled but were controlled by an R/C unit like today’s drones.

Now, sensors can track what area has been mowed and what hasn’t.  A robotic mower can do a pretty good job on a well laid out lawn, and each new generation is improving performance.  They’re still limited to smooth ground although most can handle slopes as long as they aren’t rough.  All have limited power that works best on lawns that aren’t overgrown.  Of course, if the mowing is automatic, it takes almost no effort from you to keep your lawn trimmed, and no-effort is the best type of lawn mower fun.


Stripes Lawn Mower Fun

Cut and striped lawn.

Perfect stripes, Front Court, Emmanuel College
The lawn in front court has been cut and striped perfectly. Nobody is permitted on the lawn – except when it snowed in February and students were allowed on (even encouraged) to make snowmen, and a snow duck.
© Copyright Rich Tea and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.

I always admired the stripes on a well cared for lawn.  Lawn stripes don’t always jibe with the idea of an easy lawn, but here’s wow to do it if you’re feeling fancy.

The appearance of stripes is caused by the way that the blades of grass lay.  They look dark if bent towards you, light if bent away.  A rotary lawn mower will create some strips.  As the blades spin they bend grass on one side of the mower forward and back on the other.  But this isn’t the real deep stripes that we see and admire on a finely cut lawn.

Stripes like you see in this illustration or at the ballpark are done with a special striping kit that drags behind the mower.  Some use a small roller; others use a brush to line up the blades.

If you want to have some lawn mower fun at home, a similar effect at home can be created with an empty lawn roller.  Cut your grass high so that the blades are long enough to lay over and run the roller over it.  Try to keep the rows straight.  The pros do it with a tractor and a lot of practice.


 

A push lawn mower attached to a bicycle

Bicycle powered lawn mower

This picture caught my attention from an online photo gallery.  I’m not quite sure that this would classify as lawn mower fun, maybe it’s more photography fun, but it certainly is unusual.