Useful And Fantastic: The Wonderful Lawns Of The Future
…Lawns reflect a 200-year-old Romantic dream of fusing ourselves with nature. Yet that very dream now poses a major threat to the nature it so lovingly celebrates. Everyone with a pocket-handkerchief of a lawn thinks they need their own several-hundred-dollar noise-making polluting neighbor-annoying petrol-mower. Why? MOST suburban lawns do not need the great enormous waste of power mowers…
Val Yule expresses radical planet-saving views on the care of lawns.
An American wrote: ‘Today we burn a half billion gallons of gas a year powering rotary mowers”.
Lawns are lovely. I love lawns. Lawns are useful in hundreds of ways, lovely to the eye, beautiful in vistas, relaxing for the outdoor picnics and afternoon teas, and healthy for the air and the children playing. Lives are getting worse, not better, if the pleasures of lawns are rashly abandoned.
People with one-eyes want to get rid of lawns. But Australian lawns need not look like delicate shaven English lawns. They can go brown and waterless in summer because they don’t get watered, and resurrect when it rains. They can be mostly green flat-weeds with flowers of yellow dandelions and white daisies; a bit too tussocky for cricket pitches and tennis but fine for other amateur sports and play, children’s play gear, lounging, picnicking and barbecues, and parking extra cars.
Small suburban lawns can be mowed quickly with a light modern hand-mower that improves the waistline and cuts obesity, greenhouse gases and fuel bills. For larger lawns, an alternative is sheep or goats, with many side-benefits, such as an affectionate pet or college mascot, fleece, meat, and exciting chases when they escape.
The menfolk used to mow our lawn because the motor-mower is too heavy for me. But with everyone away for summer holidays, the lawn was high with, dandelions. So I got out the little light manual lawn mower from the back of the shed. And lo and behold, I could mow the lawn! I am going on 80 years old, and so old and small that I take a rest every ten minutes even typing this. I can mow my front lawn in the time it takes to get the petrol-mower running. Today even easier manual lawn-mowers can be produced.
Children can run as they push the lawn-mower. What matter if a few weed-heads bend rather than get cut. Use scissors for the left-overs – if you want to. In Kyoto in 1950 I saw rows of bowed women moving at a crawl across the lawns of the Old Palace cutting the grass with scissors . . do they still? Nineteenth century cricket ovals used to be scythed then rolled with horse-drawn rollers. There are places where power mowers are really needed.
We pour tens of thousands of tons of chemicals on our lawns. Needlessly. Lawns reflect a 200-year-old Romantic dream of fusing ourselves with nature. Yet that very dream now poses a major threat to the nature it so lovingly celebrates. Everyone with a pocket-handkerchief of a lawn thinks they need their own several-hundred-dollar noise-making polluting neighbor-annoying petrol-mower. Why? MOST suburban lawns do not need the great enormous waste of power mowers.
A gardening magazine had a big feature about Ride-On Mowers. I sent a letter about efficient manual-mowers which at the time cost under $80. I dont think it was published.
Support local light manufacturing before it disappears altogether. Push your lawnmower with correct erect posture, to trim your waist and body-build your arms. (If you bend, bend from the hips with back straight and tummy in. The first time you try this exercise, go as carefully as with a new exercise in a gym. Don’t try to get rid of your flab in one go; I am not advocating hernias or heart-attacks. Build up to Olympic competition status gradually over months.)
Save the time you used to spend on repairs and maintenance of a power-mower. If you have a large or bumpy lawn, you may still run over it with your handy little hand-mower, and keep the power-mower for the times when it needs the equivalent of spring-cleaning.
Save our oil resources! Save our carbon emissions! Save whatever is beautiful and lovely.
Lawnmowers and climate change
The thoughtless expectation for single-use plastic bags are the most publicly notorious example of how much waste has become built-in to our way of life.
The power-mower is an extremely useful invention, and where would we be without it. Even in 1950 it took long lines of crawling Japanese women with scissors to cut the lawns of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. 19th century cricket pitches used to be scythed then rolled with horse-drawn rollers. In between, however, was the manual rotary-bladed lawn-mower which most people today have never seen.
The power mower is allied to carbon emissions in its production, consumption of fuel, polluting exhausts, and even in its short life and final disposal. Yet despite its cost, it is routinely used to mow every suburban Australian lawn regardless of size, except for a very few. Gardening shows and magazines feature every variety, including ride-ons – but never to my knowledge, the manual mower. Yet, as an aged female of 80, I can run over my suburban lawn with a modern light Australian-made manual mower in the time it takes to get out a heavy petrol mower and get it going to annoy the neighbors. In time of drought it even has the advantage that it does not shave the grass as low.
Economically it would seem that people would save money as well as carbon emissions by producing and buying construction and use manual mowers for small lawns, and as a complement machine for larger ones. Even exporting them.
But economically, hundreds of jobs and businesses would collapse – in manufacture, sales, maintenance, spare parts, fuel sales, even in advertising.