96. Riding Lawn Mowers for Big-Ass Yards

27 Apr

When one of my friends, a native Seattleite, visited the Deep South for the first time, he was astounded by the amount of space folks have, including the biggest lawns he’d ever seen. At my house here in Seattle, we cut what grass there is (and by “we” I mean Geoff) with a weed whacker. We’ve got a lovely English-style garden in the back, but the grass in front doesn’t even justify a push mower. The house where I grew up, though, is a whole ‘nother story. One that involves a riding lawn mower.

Like many Southern folks, we lived out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods on all sides and, yes, a ginormous yard. One of my greatest thrills as a kid was getting to ride along as my dad mowed the lawn. Even today the smell of freshly mown grass makes me giddy with nostalgia. Ok, maybe giddy is too strong a word. Let’s go with “slightly less cranky than usual.”

As much as I loved going along for the ride, I couldn’t wait for that glorious rite of passage: Driving the lawn mower all by myself. Looking back, it might have been wise for me to practice before being set loose, but I reckon failure is how we learn. I’ll never forget the feeling of taking the reins for the first time: one part elation, three parts terror. As soon as I took off, I headed straight up the huge oak tree. Sadly, this would not be the last time a vehicle under my power would come in contact with a tree, but I shouldn’t digress…

Sorry, y'all, this won't cut it.

I’m sure I panicked. I most likely screamed. I definitely concluded that mowing the lawn was not for me. Now that I think about it, this childhood trauma is probably what caused me to abhor yard work of any kind. (Or at least it sounds like a better excuse than “Bugs. Worms. Dirt. ICK!”)

I’m sure the bike-riding granola folks here in Seattle would be horrified by the oversized carbon footprints left by gas-powered riding lawn mowers. I admit, they’re not exactly, well, “green.” But when you consider the Herculean task of cutting an acre or so on a sweltering summer day, I bet even Ed Begley Jr. would happily hitch a ride.

Photo credits, Flickr Creative Commons: Riding lawn mower by WindRanch, push mower by Dan Cederholm.

16 Responses to “96. Riding Lawn Mowers for Big-Ass Yards”

  1. Posky April 27, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    My father used the riding lawnmower as a way to trick me into thinking mowing the lawn is fun.

    In Detroit my yard is tiny and I use a push mower, but opted to let the backyard (all 9×12 feet of it) be taken over by wild mint, flowers, some grass and random vegetables. Now I just mow half of it and the tiny patch of grass in the front. Sure, I don’t have the best lawn on the block but I also spend the least time mowing.

    Of course, when I stay in New York I have no lawn… which has it’s perks but also it’s downside… no garden, no cookouts, no place to enjoy the sun. No place to let off steam and cry or go to the bathroom when the indoor toilet breaks.

    • Kim Holloway April 29, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      I think you have the right idea: mow as little and as infrequently as possible.

  2. Debbie April 28, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    We in the Midwest are rather fond of riding mowers, too. You’re right when you say people with BIG yards don’t want to spend all day baking in the sun and mowing — besides, riders don’t make you sweat as much (and Southern women never sweat, as you well know!)

    • Kim Holloway April 29, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Oh, I know. Southern ladies glisten.

  3. Mary April 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    I learned to drive the riding lawnmover before I learned to drive a car! of course with an acre and quarter we needed the riding mower. Now with a small yard on a hill I don’t even think we could use one without the real danger of tipping over.

    • Kim Holloway April 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

      As a riding lawnmower trauma victim, I’d advise you to stick with the push mower for your current yard. 🙂

  4. Kim's Sister April 29, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    If you can believe it, I was actually telling my neighbors last night about this very incident!!!! I don’t think you captured the intensity of the situation…it is so very vivid in my mind. You in the front yard with Dad, me in the back yard doing something…then a blood curdling scream and Dad yelling back “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!!????!!??????!!!!” me running around from the front to see the mower, with you still on it, halfway up the tree. AHHHH that was a priceless moment.

    • Kim Holloway April 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

      “Priceless” would not exactly be the word I’d use to describe that moment…

  5. Val May 1, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    I saw the photo and thought “but why not make the goat mow the lawn?” Great post as ever. I must comment more!

    Do southerners accept blog awards from absurd old birds? If so, there’s one here for you:

    • Kim Holloway August 8, 2011 at 9:51 am #

      Good question!! After all, aren’t goats natural lawn mowers?

      Thanks for the nomination!

  6. Tori Nelson May 2, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Haha! Love this. I happily sport my sundress and sneakers every weekend to mow the lawn. I figure a push mower almost counts as exercise and nothing beats the smell of freshly cut grass!

    • Kim Holloway August 8, 2011 at 9:53 am #

      Heck yeah pushing a mower counts as exercise! Hey, for some folks, even pushing a buggy counts as exercise. Especially if it’s laden with everyday low priced items from walmart.

  7. Margert @ Push Mower June 3, 2011 at 8:51 pm #


    Riding lawn mower is very funny.


  8. real southern men June 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    The riding mowers are necessities down here aren’t they? Any Northwesterner who complains about my carbon footprint can come mow my four acres anytime. But not all Southerners relish mowing the lawn. In fact, some of us think the lawnmowers are out to kill us all: http://wp.me/p1edIc-lP

    • Kim Holloway June 10, 2011 at 11:30 am #

      Loved your post. Funny stuff!!

      • real southern men June 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

        Thanks! We’re doing our best to define what Real Southern Man is – and celebrate the South in the process. Feel free to send some inspiration our way. Great blog, BTW!

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