The Grass Is Not Always Green

Currently operating within my recently-developed parameters of First Retirement (no clue if not working will actually take) I have been able to spend more time at my keyboard reading and commenting on other blogs, as well as tending to my own site.

When my computing status changes to Away From Keyboard, one of the reasons why is the weekly endeavor of tending to the lawn…armed with my edger, my blower, and last but not least…my trusty push mower.

You may recall from a prior post I had an unfortunate event with a riding mower at our last residence…

We had a Zero Turning Radius mower. When we bought it, the advice was given to us not to operate it in wet conditions, especially on uneven terrain. After a light rain one afternoon, I insisted to my wife it would be OK to mow. Not agreeing with the decision, she grudgingly came outside to do some gardening. When she got to the large rose bush I had skidded into at the edge of our driveway, I tried my level best to assure her I was OK…even though my face felt like half the skin was gone. She gave me a once-over from head to toe…and calmly stated, “You’ll be fine.” Two years later, she admitted she thought those cuts would never heal.

Our current yard features a fairly steep slope, a bit more severe than our prior home. My wife “strongly suggested when we moved here this lawn not be cared for with a riding mower.

The property here isn’t quite a half-acre, so a push mower really is more than capable of getting the job done. To be honest, using a riding mower on this yard might find me in the backyard of the house behind us…with the mower on top of me.

We have lived at our current residence for about seventeen years. In that time, the yard has seen anything and everything weather in the Northeast US can provide. Thirty inches of snow and ice at one time. Eight inches of rain in an hour. Two months with 90 degree temperatures and no rain. Numerous demented squirrels.

You can find great advice on the Internet about taking care of your lawn and in many cases it is 100% contradictory. The only 100% foolproof advice I have ever gotten for lawn care actually came from my wife. It was the year I accidentally grabbed the nonselective herbicide RoundUp instead of the selective herbicide Ortho Weed Clear and sprayed several dandelions in the front yard with it. Her advice was if I ever did that again, she would round up all of my sports memorabilia and spray RoundUp on it.

One of the things I obsess over a bit is when to execute the very last mow of the year, trying to guess when grass-growing will slow to a crawl, as well as how high to leave the lawn for the off-season. Seven years ago, there was a particularly snowy and icy period one Fall before the yard had a chance to freeze, and with the grass also sitting a bit higher than I’d usually let it go, we had a resulting touch of what is known as snow mold. Snow mold does not do any permanent damage, but it was weird seeing parts of the lawn a shade of pink. At least we were fortunate enough to get the colorful version, as the other shade of snow mold is apparently a very dull gray. However, you might not be surprised a partially pink yard isn’t that visually appealing either, so the goal since that incident is to keep any snow mold from happening so the lawn has a nice, quiet transition into and out of dormancy.

I am a bit sad when the last mow of the year takes place. While the front yard is for the most part level, the lawn on the sides of the house slope down fairly severely through the backyard until it reaches the invisible yet defined property line with the home behind us. Mowing our yard does provide good exercise, and not mowing for a few months means I try to incorporate other activities to replace it. Snowfall removal certainly gets the blood pumping, but that’s sporadic and we don’t get quite as much snow as we used to. It is a good thing I am a “winter person” to begin with, and I do like to get outside no matter what. Hell, I’ve been known to go down to the basketball courts and shoot hoops even in snow flurries.

I’ve also been known to mow even in snow flurries. I’m actually a bit of a celebrity in that regard. One of my neighbors told me after one late-year mow five years ago I had amused both her and her husband.

“Hey honey, come here. Bruce is mowing in the snow.”

Maybe I do try a little too hard to coordinate and calculate the end of the growing season and getting the length of the grass just right. Looking back over the last few years, my last mow of the year has occurred as follows:

2014 – 11/8; 2015 – 10/31; 2016 – 11/19; 2017 – 11/20; 2018 – 11/8; 2019 – 11/1; 2020 – 11/20; 2021 – 11/10

The irony is not lost on me the very fact I have a record of these dates may very well be a sign I take this a bit too seriously.

In any event I am now monitoring the weather forecasts, examining the length of the blades of grass, and trying to time that final mow perfectly to ensure the lawn has the best chance of staying greenish instead of pinkish. Or grayish. I know if it changes colors again, the lawn will eventually be fine, but I really don’t want the yard to be stressed out.

I could just hire a lawn service to keep myself from being stressed out, but can I really put my trust in others…even if they appear to be as competent as I am?

 

Pictures Courtesy Advanced Turf/Great Lakes Landcare/Universal Studios

97 thoughts on “The Grass Is Not Always Green”

  1. I fought the lifetime battle with lawns myself. In the East, it was Marian blue. In the Midwest, it was Kentucky blue, out West it was some kind of hybrid. Here in the South, it was Zoysia. I finally gave all that worry and concern up and went to turf. No more wondering about that last cut. In fact no more wondering about anything. I enjoyed your lawn stories, Bruce.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Hey honey, come here. Bruce is mowing in the snow.”–that had me laughing so hard. But then you posted your ‘mowing stats.’ Whoa. You’re a serious lawn guy. Everyone around here has a lawn service. Too darn hot to mow grass in Florida. Mowing season is about over, but I do like everything edged so for $15, the yard is edged, at least until January when a quick mow will do until February.
    I’ve never heard of snow mold before but those cute little guys in blue jeans look like they could handle it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois, I was the one laughing when our neighbor told me that’s what went down in their living room the day I was out “playing” in the snow. They work very hard at their lawn as well, but they have yet to mow in the snow. I do think if I lived in Florida I’d be handing mowing duties over to someone else. Mowing in Florida is not for the faint of heart.

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  3. I hope you don’t mind me saying I found this hilarious. You would make an excellent Englishman, but even my dad doesn’t record the date of the last mow. Or maybe he does, I’ll have to ask him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really can’t help but find it hilarious as well, Ruth. I’m not really sure where the “list of dates” for the last mows of the year came from. I made a note of it the one year…and then remembered I did it the year before…and it became a thing. I am honored at the thought of being an excellent Englishman.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice funny piece. Fortunately, I have no lawn to battle. Too dry in my area. I love the snowman with the lawnmower. We don’t get much snow out here either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim, I do sometimes wonder what it would be like with no lawn to take care of. The snowman with the lawnmower picture could actually have been me had I stayed out much longer that day. It was a wet snow which actually started to stick to my clothes…not to mention the lawn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s always something to battle. If you have the water to support lawns, mowing is fairly easy compared to chopping, pulling and digging up overgrowth.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Lulu: “These days, at our house, the grass is not only not green, it’s not even grass. A lot of it is just dirt.”
    Java Bean: “Sí, it’s fantastic! I can dig in it and roll around in it, and when it rains, it will become glorious mud!”
    Lulu: “Somebody’s cruising for a bath …”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for a well-told story. I can relate. When I was 14, I moved with my family from urban Bayonne, NJ, to suburban Maumee, Ohio. I never had operated a mower, but needed spending money, so I went door to door offering to cut a lawn if the person hiring me would let me use their mower. On my first job, I was trying to remove clippings that clogged the bag when the blade sliced my index finger. As I held up the bloody digit, the woman rushed from the house. I’m not sure who came close to fainting first, me or her. Fortunately, the finger was spared, but I had a longtime scar as a reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That certainly was the case here until several years ago, John. Now, we get an early frost period…but it goes back up into the 60’s-70’s and the grass doesn’t know when to quit. We’ll get there…just takes longer than it used to.

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  7. Being in Florida, it is mowing season all year. We have a lawn guy, and from May – September, he is here every Tuesday. October – April, every other Tuesday. But, to comment on the blog title: I have found that grass green all year is growing over a septic tank.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You are certifiable. You’d hate me as a neighbour as I leave my dandelions for the bees 😉
    I don’t give a fig about my lawn as I will be slowly turning it into a xeriscape with zero grass. In the back, however, I still have to determine what I’ll be doing. Right now, the rabbits and groundhogs love that I leave all my weeds for them 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dale, first off I am certifiable. Duly noted. Second…now get this…believe it or not my neighbor mows his grass about five times a year, and right now all the rabbits and squirrels in the region have a campground in his front and back yards. I will say one positive from his lack of lawn concern is it is very easy for me to know where to mow when mowing along our property lines.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He he he! I say, to each his own. Of course, when one keeps his grass meticulous and his neighbour leaves his willy-nilly, there is surely some tension created. Five times a year? I think I mowed mine thrice. Maybe four. It hardly grows in front, though.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, I’m guessing they mow five times a year tops. At this point, I’m hoping they don’t mow again this season because it is so high it is catching some of the leaves from their tree, rather than me taking possession of their leaves.🙂

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  9. I hate mowing the lawn. Takes me about three hours (then the strimming on top of that too.) I fret over the last mow of the year too – our house is beside woodland and we have tons of leaves fall onto the grass every year. (Almost 300 large sack fulls last time I bothered counting.) The trick is to have the grass as short as possible before the leaves drop – otherwise, here in West of Scotland, everything just becomes one huge soggy mess and therefore more difficult to clear what with the persistent rain that coincides at this time of year. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can identify with your predicament to some extent. Where we used to live, there were a ton of trees on and around the property. Basically, the back yard ended and a forest of sorts began. There was a giant amount of leaves on the property as a result, and if you didn’t get them all up grass quickly became moss, or mud.

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    1. What I love about leaves is even with no trees on the property, we are a magnet for everyone else’s leaves. Trees all around us, and it just feels like their leaves are out to get us. I do like the fact that while obsessing over the last mow, in the interim I am actively turning those leaves into lawn food.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Living in southern California, I keep hearing about this mythical thing called rain, where water actually falls from the sky. And snow, where it’s frozen! …Seriously, I loved this post, as it reminded me of my Dad, who loved to mow the lawn. And when my parents moved to Oklahoma with a huge field, one of Dad’s joys was to jump on the riding lawnmower and go to town. He wasn’t as obsessive as you, but he nonetheless enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Bruce, your rain superpowers worked as L.A. woke up to light-falling moisture. It was more of the drizzle variety, but I’ll take it. Send more, please! And yes, living in Oklahoma, all the fields were flat as a pancake, so Dad had no problem navigating the riding mower.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Have you considered setting aside your 1st retirement and creating your OWN lawn care service. Think of the endless possibilities for stress and analysis of that epic “last mow” for all your clients! I rent and I am perfectly okay with the job our lawn service does. It took some time but I finally trained them to keep the bush in front of my parking space nicely trimmed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, one of the neighbors actually has his own one-man lawn service and he actually cares for a couple of the houses around us. The thought has crossed my mind on occasion to do that as well, but in the middle of the brutal summers we have I usually talk myself out of going down that road. And yeah, can you imagine me doing the “last mow” thing with multiple lawn responsibilities? Yikes!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lol. The reason I would easily be able to back into the dates the lawn was last mowed each year is that it was for sure the last Monday of October…..since the lawn service doesn’t continue into November. We, too, only had a push mower, partly for environmental reasons, partly so my stay-at-home-Dad of a husband would hear babies waking up from naps if he was out mowing. I encouraged hiring the lawn service because I realized that the only fight I ever wanted to pick with my husband at that time was about how the lawn looked. Since then, it has been noisy and non- environmentally friendly, but looking good, for many years. With (mostly) marital peace.

    I can appreciate the satisfaction you get from your work. There is nothing quite like freshly-trimmed grass.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The minions reminded me of the summer of 2021 when I hired a kid – maybe 13 – that I met in a used yard tool store. Seriously. His sister would drop him off and he would use my self-propelled mower. We have a somewhat large front yard that goes from gentle slope to slide-down-it if you don’t have the right shoes kind of slope. Every time he mowed, I had to go out and check his work. He just didn’t understand about always crossing over a bit where you already mowed, so there were always thin lines of unmowed grass. And I always made him go back and mow them. Then I had to drive him home.
    I decided to just go back to doing it myself this year!
    Oh, and I absolutely loved your telling of your “obsession” with your lawn, LOL! We actually don’t mow our grass, we mow our weeds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I first started mowing grass as a kid, I too had to get used to that same thing. Took me a few tries to get the whole overlap your lines concept. I think between his poor performance, and the fact you had to drive him home lol…that was a no-brainer taking back those mowing duties…grass and/or weeds.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The sad part was that his intentions were good, and he was a really nice kid. He even wanted to work up to running his own yard service. To top it off, when I asked him why he drank coffee, he said because it filled his belly.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. The Minions never fail to make me smile–if not laugh out loud. And hey, I saw the score for the game last night. Must have been exciting to be a Phillies fan! Hope they go all the way.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Nancy, it is something I have thought of on occasion, but can you imagine me having that “last mow of the season” responsibility for multiple lawns? Then again, I could always say my service only lasts until the end of September, and just let my customers fend for themselves finishing off their lawns for the year.

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  14. Great post, Bruce. I think 99% of husbands want to do the lawn themselves. It’s a guy thing, and they yard looks great afterwards. I remember snow mold, but not the pink variety. Yes, the when to stop mowing is tricky. We’re in a warm spell and had just stopped mowing. Sigh! Hats off to you for using a push mower!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I have never seen pink grass! My worry were always those bees that burrow in the ground. They got me once when I was pulling weeds, after which I made sure they would never return. And yet, every single season that same damn thought was in my head that they were coming for me. Never happened, but it didn’t matter . . the thought was there!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Oh, Bruce… I bet if you and Mike got together you could talk “lawn care” for hours on end. He also knows exactly when his last mow of the season is, how much rain we’ve had – down to the tenth of an inch – and exactly what chemicals do what. With all that said, we don’t have as much to keep up with as you do, but we do have the prettiest yard on the block. Thanks for sharing an entertaining post!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My husband has a strange relationship with his lawn (and fields) that I won’t even begin to try to explain, but it did find some correlations with your post about slopes, start/stop dates, and “blade length.” Your wife sounds like a very wise woman, Bruce. Thanks for the laughs, and I love the photo of you mowing in the snow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Diana, I applaud your husband for being so dedicated to the welfare of the property. Yes, my wife is a very intelligent person. At least between the two of us, we can say that about one of us. Glad you enjoyed the snow mow. I almost really did look like that. It was a very wet snow and stuck to everything…especially me.

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  18. Your property and ours are similar. You have to mow [and rake] steep slopes carefully, by hand. True story: a new next-door neighbor moved in and immediately went out and bought a riding lawn mower because he had all. this. property. On his first outing on the mower he lost control of it, slide halfway down the side of the hill, and got stuck in the mud and woods. He was unhurt but the machine had to be towed out by a Jeep. We tried not to laugh, but DUDE, what were you thinking?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ally, that is a wild story. Towed out, lol. I’m sure more than a few people get “over their skis” when they get new power equipment like a riding mower and just don’t think about being a little more careful and responsible.

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  19. You sound just like my husband. Really, aside from kissing a rose bush you could be twins. He takes his yard care so seriously our neighbor once bought him a shirt that said “The Lawn Ranger”.
    He just did a massive fall clean up and planned on packing it in for the year but then it rained for five days and the temps have climbed near 70. I’m very interested in the snow mold. Never heard of it… and am almost jealous you had a pink lawn.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Best of luck picking the very best final mowing date, Bruce! I have been known to give our lawn one last pass-through on Dec. 1 … Yup, I like seeing the mow lines from our push mower on our small front lawn on the periods it’s snow-free. Our backyard is totally dominated by our inground pool (long covered by now) but sure I’ll give the several stripes to the fence that final mow on the same day as the front.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I must admit that I am intimidated by the riding mower. I’ve never been on one, but I would like to learn how. I’m just afraid of flipping it or running into the house. We have five acres that are proper lawn, the rest is wooded. My wife’s father lives beside us and does all the mowing. He’s very protective of his riding mower and won’t let anyone else use it. Hahha. We’ve even begged for him to at least do our part, but he won’t give in. Oh well. I do all the trimming though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aaron, that’s a whole lot of lawn. Good you have that assistance with your dad-in-law and his riding mower. I did enjoy using ours while we had it for the prior lawn, and they’re very safe to use as long as you don’t get too speedy with ’em.

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  22. Love you Bruce. We are similar people. I too care way too much about lawn care, at least that’s what my wife and kids tell me. I wish I had a good record of my “Last Mow” but I’m pretty sure I performed a December mowing recently (a year or two ago). Of course, our climate is a bit different but here in Chicagoland it’s probably somewhat similar to you in Philadelphia. I’ll try to remember to let you know when I perform my last mowing this season. Good luck with the leaves, etc. I’m sure you could write an entire column about leaves too.

    Thanks,
    Reid

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Geoff, I will share this with you and only you…I have records of all mows for the last nine years. I originally just started a list to keep track of fertilizer applications and seeding times, but it became a list for everything…

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  23. Strong suggestions and fool proof advice from the wife should be heeded… or so I tell my husband. Does he listen? Well, sometimes. My lawn looks suspiciously green for November and the ‘final’ mow has happened a few times now. The weather here in England is doing bizarre things and nature is confused.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We here in Pennsylvania US have enjoyed temperatures in the 70’s the last few days, but it is possible the last mow has finally happened since we’re now headed for the 20’s at night this week. Nature has been confused here as well, Helen. Lol “suspiciously green.”

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  24. A riding mower once seemed ideal fun, kind of big toy for grown-ups, but too many reported hazards have out me off even though given the size of my lawn it would be a bit of an indulgence. Pink grass? Well, hey now, can you do it in blue?

    Liked by 1 person

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