The following story was submitted by a Fatherly reader. Opinions expressed in the story do not reflect the opinions of Fatherly as a publication. The fact that we’re printing the story does, however, reflect a belief that it is an interesting and worthwhile read.
When it comes to lawn care, there are two types of homeowners: those who pay others to do the work, and masochists.
I came to this realization one recent Monday morning following a weekend of yard work. I could barely raise my arms and my legs felt like I was walking in quicksand. Yet I couldn’t stop admiring the lines in my freshly cut grass nor thinking about what I would do differently next time.
That I would develop a green thumb kind of surprised me. The first time I mowed the lawn at our house was the first time I mowed a lawn in my entire life. My mother did the mowing when I was growing up; she would not let anyone touch her lawnmower. If we came back from the beach on a Sunday at 2:30 p.m., she would be mowing by approximately 2:33. It could be 90 degrees outside. The lawn could look like a parched putting green because it hadn’t rained in 20 days. She would still be pushing that mower.
After we got married, my wife and I lived in an apartment and then in a townhouse. We had a postage-stamp-sized front lawn and a neighbor who graciously cut it for us when he mowed his own. So when we bought our house, it was finally my turn. On the recommendation of my cousin, I bought an electric lawnmower and trimmer. I assembled them in my basement and charged both batteries. I read the instruction manual and watched a few how-to videos online. And then I let everything sit in my basement. It was the middle of February.
It wasn’t until a couple of months later, during our first warm weekend of the year, that I finally got my chance. Of course, I had forgotten to recharge the battery since February, and it took me almost a full day that first time, but by sundown, our lawn was freshly shorn. I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
But here’s what I didn’t realize about your lawn in the springtime: IT DOESN’T STOP GROWING. Between the rain and the fertilizer, the grass is like a boy going through puberty. And, much like that teenager, I soon realized that I’d be whacking much more frequently than I anticipated.
Now, I’m obsessing over weekend weather forecasts. I sulked one Saturday night when a rain shower passed by, fretting at how it would impact the next day’s scheduled mow. I’m experimenting with different cut heights for different parts of the lawn, from the marsh-like growth near the back of the yard to that annoying strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street. I observe my neighbors cutting their lawn and note their technique.
But I also now notice who is behind the lawnmower. There are boys, all arms and legs, fighting to maneuver the machine. There are dads in jeans on a leisurely stroll, pushing mowers older than I am. There’s the guy wearing noise-canceling headphones so large it looks like he took a wrong turn from the airport tarmac. The hum of the lawnmower becomes the soundtrack of suburbia on a sunny spring afternoon.
“Most of the people in my mom’s group say they hire someone to mow their lawn,” my wife told me one day, matter of factly. I was not sure if that was a statement or a hint. “Well, most guys in the neighborhood don’t know what they’re missing,” I fired back. And that’s when it hit me ⏤ why I took so much to mowing the lawn. When you have an-almost-3-year-old who is potty training at her own leisurely pace, when you’re a month away from Baby No. 2, when you have demands at work, and uncertainties at home, it’s just satisfying to have a defined goal and a task you can complete and results you can see immediately.
And the two hours of alone time is pretty nice, as well.
Danny Jacobs is an editor in Ellicott City, Maryland. He wishes his yard were big enough that he could buy a riding mower.