Zen and the Art of Lawn Maintenance

how-often-should-lawn-be-mowed[1]  As I was walking my dogs yesterday, I began paying attention to the different lawn mowing techniques of my neighbors. This got me thinking about border lines and “zen and the art of lawn maintenance”. There is a saying that fences make good neighbors, but what about the green borders between yards which need to be mowed? Here’s what I have noticed.

Some of us make the “friendly gesture”. That means we try to seem helpful or return a favor. On the days that I mow, I’ll go an extra 6″-12″ over the border to where the neighbor’s driveway is, so they don’t have to mow that side. Of course, if you do this you have to be careful not to make it seem like you are claiming those extra inches because that could ignite “the border dispute”. This can be seen when neighbors constantly overmow the area around the border in an effort to control it.



Another trend that we see is “the meticulous mower” vs. the “too busy to care mower”. The yard of the former is kept short and weed-free. Often there will be yellow flags up warning that pesticide has been used. The yard of the latter has long grass and often is full of dandelions, making for an obvious contrast in gardening styles. Is there a correlation between the yellow flowers in one yard and the yellow flags in the other? Probably and hopefully it is not a hostile one.




Lastly, there are the types of people who mow their lawns in a variety of patterns: on the diagonal, in a circle, like a checkerboard. Are they doing this because they are creative or bored, or do they just want to be different? I only want to get the job done, not turn it into a competition over whose lawn looks the most well-groomed.

In fact, lately I have turned the position of chief lawn mower over to my son. For a fair wage he is happy to clear the yard of sticks, balls and dog droppings and cut the grass, including all the odd-shaped parts around the garden beds. The first time he did it he did not make the “friendly gesture” I previously mentioned. After I praised him for his hard work, I pointed this out to him. A few weeks later, my neighbor approached me about “the accident”. She was almost apologetic as she explained that she had recently seeded an area of her yard and my son had mowed it before it was ready. Ooops! The art of lawn maintenance sure gets complicated.

Here’s to mowing a fine line to keep the peace.