Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thrifty Gardening Tips: Save Gas, Only Mow Where You Go

Here is Part 3 in The Home Garden's series of posts about how to garden on a budget.

One thing that drives me crazy about lawn mowing is when I see someone mowing their grass when it doesn't need it. Imagine the scene: it hasn't rained in two weeks, the grass hasn't grown a centimeter, and someone is out riding in circles on their lawnmower cutting that centimeter of grass more out of habit than any real need. In addition I often see people mow dirt, yes dirt! Rather than make a turn to avoid the area they just plow over it spewing up dust clouds underneath the whiling blades of the mower. These practices are both bad for your yard and wasteful. Here are some guidelines that I try to follow when mowing my lawn that may save a little money on gas.

  1. I try to only mow where we go. What's the point in mowing an area you never use? If it's just to make it look clean and manicured consider investing in a new flower garden. You not only create an area that is nice to look at but you don't waste gas to run your mower! Even if you don't want to spend the time or resources to make a new garden bed consider planting wildflowers that will naturalize.
  2. Don't mow dirt. As I mentioned a minute ago some people do this. Maybe it's easier for them to mow in a pattern every time they mow. It's not a big deal for a small patch of dirt but for large areas that may be underneath trees or on slopes consider planting a groundcover that will do well in those locations. Just avoid mowing over it, knocking down a few weeds just isn't worth using up gas on a patch of dirt.
  3. You don't always have to mow everything every time. I find that my lawn grows at different rates due to the different varieties of grasses and weeds that live in it. If there is a spot that needs mowed I'll mow that area rather than do the whole yard which may not need it.
  4. Don't mow when it hasn't rained! If your grass isn't growing mowing out of habit won't do any good. All it will do is waste your gas and consequently waste your money. Besides letting your grass grow longer is better during the hot months for cool season grasses. High grass keeps the roots from drying out as quickly and it typically has deeper roots.
  5. Consider human powered tools. Since my push mower caught on fire I've been thinking about my next mower. Both the electric mowers and reel mowers are something I'm considering in the future, if you have any experiences good or bad with these let me know!
For more Thrifty Gardening Tips take a look at these posts:

Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1: Buying and Saving Discount Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1 Follow Up: Buying and Saving Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 2: The Generosity of Gardeners

9 comments :

  1. Great tips! I wish the maintenance staff of our apt bldg could read them. In an effort to save money, I suppose, they last mowed the lawn so short, they scalped it! Now, what was a lovely green carpet is nothing but strips of brown, with the occasional bare spot where blades dug into the soil. :-/

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  2. From your blog to my neighbors ears! In my suburb...most folks seem to hire lawn services and they are out there scalping the 'lawns' all the time...then they sell the folks lawn seeding services because they have killed the grass from too often and too short mowing. What a racket!

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  3. Thanks for making the suggestions. I hope more and more people become aware of how much of a strain lawns place on the environment: excessive water consumption & wastage, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, gas consumption & the associated emissions, noise, etc. It's a multi-billion dollar industry that's not doing our planet any favours.

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  4. I like that tip to make more flower gardens-less time, money and maintenance for sure. Good tips!

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  5. A few days ago we drove past a guy on a riding mower kicking up so much dust we could hardly see the road! We have a lot of sand in the soil here so when you mow the dirt, you are filing down the mower blade as if using sand paper! So another reason why not to mow the dirt here.

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  6. I have a Black & Decker Electric Mower and Trimmer. Mine isn't the cordless kind. I have a huge extension cord, as I have a small area to mow. 2 of my neighbors have the cordless ones and they love them. I have had less mower maintenance with the electric mower than I did with the gas powered. I used to have a push mower too, but my grass always looked butchered and sometimes I just can't push it for too long.
    I also like the cordless trimmer I have as well. The gas weedwackers also needed to much maintenance and too bulky. Sometimes I don't use the trimmer and just use a manual trimmer when I am out weeding.

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  7. I've been thinking about an electic mower just to elinate the gas & maybe some noise. I do have an elecric weed whacker. I like it even tho I have to drag the cord around. Must admit I haven't used it since I broke my leg/hip.
    When someone mentioned mower I go to laughing about yours catching on fire. That was a funny post.
    I've also thought about making more flower beds. Too much grass to cut & Young'un doesn't like to do it. I loved mowing---garden/yard work. My world.

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  8. Nancy,

    Those general contractor type landscape services don't usually do what they should regarding mowing. Most of the time they think that if they cut it short it will stay short longer. Grass actually grows faster to recuperate and you end up right back where you started!

    Gail,

    I think most of the lawn services that scalp lawns do it out of ignorance than to deceive anyone, but I'm sure there are a few disreputable people who may do it on purpose.

    KD,

    I agree! Hopefully better technology will help those who want lawns. Maybe solar mowers instead of gas for riding mowers, who knows what the future will bring. For now though we should take steps to do better with our planet.

    Thanks Tina,

    While the initial work of installing a new flower bed or garden might be more if the right perennials are planted (i.e. drought tolerant or native) it is less work in the long run!

    Laurie,

    For the trimming I would do one of the battery operated trimmers would be fine. The electric mower sounds good but I would definitely need the cordless kind. I have to go to the back of our acre lot and hauling the cord back that far wouldn't work. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Lola,

    Eliminating gas and noise would be great wouldn't it! Thankfully I haven't blown up anything else since that post!

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  9. I did a post about lawncare. We have had drought conditions the last 2 summers so not as much mowing. I use to try to keep our lawn watered but I've given up.

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