Friday, September 23, 2011

Mow Yard, Mow Problems

Life -  
The only flat part of our previous yard can be seen past the sleeping dog.
 We got a new yard with our new town, a lot flatter than our last yard, but bigger and presenting more challenges in a lot of ways. Our old place was technically about the same size of property, but it was filled with bushes, trees, garages and sheds and whole swathes of land that didn't need to be mowed. The large bulk of what did need cut was pretty hilly and often boggy, but it was doable. A pretty good workout, in fact.

For some reason though, when we got the new place, I figured it would be about the same amount of work. Sure, the grass percentage was higher, but the whole yard was flat and even, with just a few hills. Nothing compared to the grade on the last yard. It was a little long too, the previous owners hadn't cut it for a few weeks at least, maybe a month or two.

I tried, I really did but man... Even once I'd cut down that initial overgrowth, found all of the hidden rocks, boulders, pipes, steel rods and mailboxes (Really) that were lurking in the grass, I still couldn't keep everything up to date. Between my extended work hours and the large field, By the time I moseyed around to the other half of the lawn a week had gone by and the previous half would need it again too.

So I did what I had wanted to avoid - I bought a ride-on mower. I'd never used one before - my aunt used to hand mow her massive back yard back in Idaho and to me, the men and women cruising around on their little lawn tractors always looked so ludicrous. But the owners of the land we're on are obsessed about the yard looking good (To the point that we refer to them as Lawnlords) and I couldn't hack it with my push mower.

After a while, I finally found a model at Lowes, a refurbished model (That had never really been used. The previous owner bought it, used it once and decided they needed a heftier model) for about $800. It's nothing fancy, no bagging system or trailer hitch, or snow plow attachment or lumbar pillow or sun canopy, though it does have headlights (Which seem useless) and a shallow cupholder that launched my water bottle under the blades the first bump I hit. But it does the job handily.

I still have to avoid a few obstacles - there's a couple of rocks sticking up from the grass and a half pipe drain that juts into the yard but aside from that and some slightly steeper slopes, I can mow the entire yard in a hour or so and get a nice, even cut.
Our new yard, including our former canopy/modern art sculpture
I feel like an idiot on it, truth be told, and I'm not a very good driver, but I'm blown away by how effective and fast it is. The real major drawback of buying a refurbished model, especially when you've never driven one before, or anything remotely like it, for that matter, is that it didn't come with a manual. My wife got quite a kick out of watching me lurch my way around those first meandering circles!

I still have a few bugs to work out - mostly involving working out a pattern around the copious rocks and obstacles that don't appear to exist until you've hit them with the wheels or blade, but this was a smart purchase. 9 hours of saved time is well worth the difference of cost and loss of dignity. And I never had much of either of those anyway.



Steve at Random said...

Kris, Thanks for a new blog. You don't know how many times I've come looking for something to read. I've always dreamed of buying a riding lawn mower. I've even spent afternoons looking at them in Sears, Lowes and other stores, but alas, I have a small yard. I'm not even sure I could get a tractor lawn mower turned around on my front lawn. The last time I mowed my yard, dad mowed the back yard for me. Wish goes to show you that there isn't much grass back there either. Take care...and thanks for the new post.

Teena said...

Hey, Kris, maybe the rocks, etc, are the reason some of your neighbors have those strange "flower" spots in their yards and the strangely placed gazing balls. Glad you got the mower.

randymeiss said...

You get better at tractor driving with practice. I was a great subject for funniest home videos when we first moved to rural Mandan. After about 6 Summers now I can get around with little difficulty. Keep it full of oil and change regularly and you should have several years of driving pleasure.

P.S. yes those cup holders are useless. I use mine to hold a pair of pliers when I need to work on my bagging attachment.