Modern lawn care: a lot of hot air

One of the things I strongly believe in is the need for manual labor, especially during these highly industrialized times. I believe such work yields better results and it keeps us grounded, in touch with the earth from which we ultimately draw our living. I dislike the “modern” methods of lawn care, where one uses hedge trimmers and leaf blowers to do a job which can be done much more adequately by simpler, manual tools such as a broom and a pair of hedge scissors.

Don’t mistake me for a luddite. I use lawnmowers when they’re justified, like when a lawn requires it, because of its size, or because it can’t be cut by a push-mower or a scythe. The scythe in particular is a great way to cut grass, and it’s also a great workout for one’s back and abdomen. It’s been around for millennia. It’s only been replaced by machinery during the last couple of centuries.

If you live in the suburbs, then this next picture should be familiar to you.

That, of course, would be landscaping day, or if you happen to live within a larger community that has a lot of lawns, this would be part of landscaping week, which would happen every month, or worse, during frequent rainfall, every couple of weeks. Every day of that period, the maddening roar of the leaf blowers would be heard all over the compound, gnawing away at your brain, making it impossible to take a nice afternoon nap, or to concentrate on a project.

I find it so inefficient to blow leaves around all day, for hours on end, when a pair of men with a couple of good brooms and some rakes would make short work of those leaves, with no noise at all, no pollution from two-cycle engines, and much less dust. I’ve often seen landscaping teams use tractors to mow little patches of grass where a push mower would have done just fine, or use hedge trimmers to walk for entire yards and trim little weeds here and there, when a man could have simply pulled them up by the roots.

I associated this sort of inefficiency, expense of petrol, noise and air pollution with the US, because so much gets wasted there these days, by people who feel entitled to everything the country has to offer, even though they offer little to nothing in return. So I was surprised to find the same waste had arrived in Romania, where my wife and I currently reside.

Here people still use scythes to cut the grass in the countryside. It’s a wonder to behold a good scythe-handler. A single man can make short work of an entire hillside in an afternoon. And it’s even more beautiful to hear the noise a sharpened scythe makes as it cuts through long grass: a metallic whoosh, coupled with a slight singing of the blade at the apex of its swing. Every other noise of nature is perfectly audible: the birds, the bees, the distant bleating of sheep, the breeze blowing through the grass and the edge of a forest nearby… It’s wonderful!

And yet, the noxious use of leaf blowers and hedge trimmers has found its way into Romanian cities, probably brought here through the export of popular American culture. Here, too, we can see workers parading through our street and through the city center with leaf blowers and hedge trimmers, making a huge noise of it all, for days on end. It’s such a pathetic (and polluting) spectacle. The noise is unbearable. Here we have tall brick buildings, built by the Saxons. These cities seem made for echoes. The wall of noise obliterates everything around. It bounces off the walls and can be heard hundreds of yards or kilometers away. It’s such a waste.

It was but a few short years ago that the city would hire scythe-men to come and cut the grass. In a few short hours, with a few swoops of the scythe, they’d be done, and someone would come after them to gather up the cut grass. It was peaceful and quiet. Now, we’re polluted with noise, and the blasted filthy smoke from the blowers and trimmers.

The sad part is that here, the public lawns found on streets and in city parks are not of the scale found in the States. They’re small. And Eastern European grass is soft. If one must use more modern machinery, they could easily switch to push mowers and be done in the same amount of time, without all the ridiculous noise and smoke.

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6 thoughts on “Modern lawn care: a lot of hot air

  1. And, boy! Didn’t I mess up that post
    script (P.S.), by not even designating
    it as such and also by not beginning
    its first sentence with a capital letter,
    and then signing off on it with the
    standard salutation for the initial
    letter prior to the post script (P.S.),
    which is to be signed only by the
    writer’s initials, such as, in this
    case,”HMP”! [Prior sentence not
    punctuated with a question mark
    (?), as it is a “rhetorical question”,
    and at least in this case is to be
    terminated with an exclamaion
    mark (!). One more time, as I
    say, nobody’s perfect, not even I.

    Sincerely,

    Hardy Parkerson, J.D.
    Lake Charles, LA, USA

  2. And get this! I even proof-read the second comment
    above and didn’t catch my error of having begun
    a comment inside a bracket (]), but not having closed
    it with a bracket. Again, none of us is perfect, not
    even I…or me. [Frankly, I prefer brackets ([...]) some-
    times to parenthetical marks [(...)]; but then the
    complicated Engish Language even has its rules
    concerning those.] And now with the upgrading of
    computer keyboards, we have this creature: [{...}].
    [And get this! Should the terminal punctuation
    (the period) in the last prior sentence here have
    been ended with the terminal punctuation inside or
    outside of the bracket? I say outside, and that’s the
    way I did it. Now, as I say, nobody’s perfect, not
    even me. Oops! I mean, not even I.

    Sincerely,

    Hardy Parkerson
    what’s the function of that creature? Can anybody
    tell me? And, yes, I even consider myself an
    “expert” on the subject of English grammar. [Did
    I spell that right? "Grammer" sounds better, but
    I'm sure it is "grammar" instead.] Oh, well, none
    of us is perfect, not even I.

    Sincerely,

    Hardy Parkerson
    Lake Charles, LA, USA

  3. Yes, one day I’ll learn to proof-read and correct
    errors in my internet writings. Yes, the word “however”
    should have been better punctuated, and my question
    to the writer of the article should have been terminated
    with a question mark (?). Oh, well, none of us is
    perfect, not even I. [Boy, this English Language is
    something else! I think “not even I” is correct in the
    last foregoing sentence, but I’m sure “not even me”
    would sound much better. Oh, well; again, nobody’s
    perfect, not even me.

    Sincerely,

    Hardy Parkerson

  4. Good article! I didn’t know what a scythe was however, so I GOOGLEd it and found some photos there, and this reminded me of such a tool that was still being used some in the East Texas Oil Field back in the late 40’s and early 1950’s. Any chance you, the producer of this site, are engaged in the business of Landscape Management. If so, I’l like to talk personally with you, even if by e-mail. Keep up the good work!

    Sincerely,

    Hardy Parkerson, J.D.
    Pres., Southern Christian University
    “The World Is Our Campus!”

    • Thank you for your comment! No, I’m not involved in Landscape Management. It is an interesting field, and it’s one that deserves more attention, from folks dedicated to ecology and the environment, not the dime-a-dozen business owners who only care about the bottom line and cutting the grass quickly.

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