"I love my cats because I love my home, and little by little they become its visible soul." Jean Couteau

Thursday, May 2, 2013

lessons in lawn mowing

You may have noticed in some of the pictures in the previous post that there are several large dead patches where there should be grass. That was when I learned that, while in general it is OK and maybe even good for the grass to have the clippings left behind after cutting the grass, this does not hold true when the grass has grown so tall it is falling over on itself. In this case, the clippings are extra thick and will not decompose fast enough to maintain adequate sun to the grass beneath, thereby killing the grass. Last summer, I tried twice to grow new grass in these dead patches. I was mildly successful in the back, under the deck, even though I had been told it would be harder to grow grass there in the shade. However, in the super sunny parts of the yard, my attempts did not produce any new grass. I believe there are multiple contributing factors to this, including:

  1. terrible soil
  2. insufficient soil aeration
  3. not reseeding at the appropriate time of year

This year, we are calling in professionals to aerate and fertilize the whole yard and reseed the dead patches. Apparently, though, the optimum time for that is in the fall, not the spring, so we'll have to live one more summer with sad grass.

You may be wondering why we let our grass get so long that leaving the clippings on the lawn would be a problem in the first place. We had moved into our house in March, when the development was not yet finished. We were told by the builder's realtor that, most likely, when the development was finished and the HOA was turned over to the homeowners, everyone would probably vote to add a little more money to our dues and have the care of our private yards taken care of by the same folks that do the maintenance on the common areas of the community. Since we had bought our house in December, I guess we kept thinking that this turnover would be imminent, so we didn't want to rush out and spend lots of money on a lawnmower that we wouldn't need in a few months. Then time went on, and our grass kept getting longer, and we hadn't heard anything about the HOA being turned over to the community, so we finally gave in a bought a plug-in electric lawnmower. 

Initially, Zach said I was in charge of all yard-related things because he's not good with plants, but my first go at lawn mowing was an emotional disaster. I got up early to get it done before the summer heat became too much for me to handle doing manual labor. However, with the recent rain and dew not yet evaporated, I knew I really shouldn't be cutting the grass yet. Also, I discovered that part of the mower had been bent, and we were unable to adjust the cutting height up from the lowest setting. Zach had called, and we were supposed to be getting a replacement part, but we didn't know when, and our grass was already way beyond when it should have been cut, so I decided to go ahead anyway. So, to recap:

super long grass + damp grass + shortest mower setting = mower getting clogged every few minutes

I had to stop many, many times to unclog the mower, so the job took me a lot longer than it normally should have. By the time I was done, the sun was super hot and I was super grumpy. So, when the lawn needed to be cut again, I made Zach do it. Now it has become his job, though it's not as much of a job when the grass isn't ridiculously long. This past weekend, he even trimmed the bushes in our front yard. So he's slowly becoming a bit more of a plant caretaker :-)

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