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Tired of Constant Mowing : How His Grass Always Looks Greener

November 08, 1987|LOUIS HILL | Special to The Times, Hill is a Cypress free-lance writer

It has been 17 years since I first started mowing the grass. And you will note that a true grass mower never says just grass. He always says "the grass."

And, after 17 years of mowing grass, I have finally learned that there is a strong philosophy connected with mowing the grass. It has something to do with getting back to the soil, working with the hands, getting the feel of the land.

The philosophy of mowing the grass involves scientific understanding. For example, the purist insists that the true grass mower use a vertical mower.

He does this because the blades of grass are neatly guillotined, whereas the rotary mower hacks the blades and leaves an unsightly stubble. The true mower of grasses is an artist who uses a Pennsylvania hand mower. I happen to be a Pennsylvania hand mower.

For me, the truth of grass mowing lies in the sickening awareness that grass never stops growing. It grows in the summer when it is plainly visible; it grows in the winter under the snow, under the leaves, under the sidewalk, wherever.

You can mow grass for 50 years, and one morning you can look out the window and see the grass is the same as it was 50 years ago. Grass never gets old. But grass mowers do!

When I first started mowing the grass, I didn't think anything about it. I did think I should mow with a hand mower because the grass I bought with my house was an indeterminate variety known as Bermuda orphan. That grass lasted three years, but like most Bermudas, it tended to migrate, and this grass migrated to the street where it found better life in the asphalt cracks.

The second grass was Kentucky blue. It came in rolls and looked beautiful for several weeks. I couldn't wait to mow it. When I did, it showed its true nature. Hiding under the luxury of a surface cover were patches of brown that seemed lifeless until you realized after several weeks that they were taking over the lawn and recruiting weeds to help them.

I am not a religious person by nature, but I looked to heaven for help with my lawn. I found it. St. Augustine arrived in the nick of time. St. Augustine grass is great. It starts in clumps or plugs and soon becomes a sea of grass. It grows fast and strong.

Unfortunately, St. Augustine grows too well. After a few months, it is impossible to cut it with a hand mower.

Now I have plasto-turf. It looks like grass at 100 yards because it is green. At 60 yards, it looks like pool-table velvet or felt. At 10 yards it looks like plasto-turf.

What does plasto-turf look like? It looks like thin green carpeting with visible seams. But it has a virtue. It can be mowed with a Hoover!

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