October 19, 2012


by John R. Greenwood

I miss my two sons living at home. The two boys who used to fight over who was going to use the riding mower. One simply wanted to do donuts in the backyard, the other actually mowed. Now with lawns of their own, the responsibility of their father's yard has come full circle. I began my lawnscaping career back in the 1960's. My father would announce that the lawn needed to be mowed. I was to take it from there. Dad and I would share the work load in the spring and fall but in the summer when I was out of school the chore was primarily mine. Back then it was a true chore because we lived in Greenfield, NY and I learned early where my hometown got its name. With my fingers wrapped around the handle of the push mower chest high, off I pushed through tall fields of green. Oh, it had a healthy Briggs and Stratton but it was all push; unlike the Cadillac of mowers pictured in the present day photo above, which basically pulls me along for the ride.
Back in the sixties procrastinating my chore resulted in a nightmarish afternoon of  forging through tall thick fescue. Grass so deep, thick and green you would think it had been fertilized by some Scott's Turf Builder mad scientist. That was the problem in Greenfield, the grass felt it had to meet the expectations of its namesake. I was also about 100lbs lighter then. So here you have a flyweight preteen, a 1960's lawn mower that is all push, a now field of grass so deep and thick you could loose a basketball in it and do you know what you end up with? An afternoon of push-stall-rake-pull-start-push-stall-rake-pull-start-stall-rake-pile-pick up pile- repeat. All this was done in the heat of the baking July sun. What would take me an hour or so if I had done it a week prior, when first mentioned, now took an entire summer afternoon that could have been more happily spent on the seat of my bicycle. I will admit that the lawn was a beauty when it was done right. The satisfaction of a well maintained lawn is deeply embedded in my bloodstream. Lawnscaping is a bit different for me these days. I now live with the sandier soil of Wilton, NY under my feet. The grass here needs more love on the front side. It wains and stalls in the summer heat. I encourage it, then complain, and so it goes. I do love it. I do hate it. It's all about time and timing.


  1. I have never understood men's obsession with having large grassy lawns to mow. My solution is to let the violets and speedwells and ground ivy drive out the grass so I can have lovely little flowers underfoot instead of boring grass.

    1. All plant life can be found and are welcome in my yard. I am an equal opportunity lawnscaper. No weeds, violets, or speedwells were harmed in the creation of this piece. They are in fact the center piece. I look forward to Dan. D. Lyon's arrival in May.