Last weekend, I finally admitted to myself that the foot-tall grass in our lawn was out of hand rather than attractively scruffy. Once you start mowing in North Carolina you don’t quit until late fall, so I push off the first pass until as late in the spring as possible.
When we moved into the Ordinary House, we hired a lawn service. They did a passable job, but their riding mowers left muddy divots in the grass and their schedule was erratic. When I realized that we were paying hundreds of dollars a month for mediocre work that I could do myself, my self-reliant streak kicked in. I dusted off my old push mower and spent hour after hour pushing it across our three-quarter acre lot. The results were good, but the job was a time sink and took my attention away from more pressing projects, like that kitchen that I’m supposedly building.
This year, I promised myself that I would let my tightwad shield down just long enough to buy an expensive mower. Even so, I resisted that purchase until last weekend, when I walked into Home Depot and saw the model I’d been ogling on super-sale. Half an hour later, I was walking behind it my yard.
Yup, you read that right: walking behind it. I’m sure you’re wondering: 3/4 of an acre and you didn’t buy a riding mower? What kind of American are you?
Problem is, our yard has enough corners, flower beds and other obstacles that I’d spend an hour going behind the riding mower with a push mower. The mower I bought is a 30″ self-propelled push model by Toro, called the Time Master. It’s maneuverable enough to do most of the detail work, but has 9″ more deck width than my old mower, which doesn’t sound like much until you realize that those extra inches decrease mowing time by nearly 40%.
The mower is very heavy, weighing in at nearly 200 pounds, but the self-propelled transmission pulls it at any pace, from a crawl to a trot. The blades are engaged separately from the engine, so you can move a stick or dog toy out of your way without turning the machine completely off. It’ll bag or mulch or discharge to the side. And although it’s large, the push handle folds up while it’s in storage, so it actually takes up less floor space than the smaller mower.
The Time Master took some getting used to. It felt cumbersome at first, but after an hour I got the hang of it. Though I admit the idea of a riding mower with a cup holder is appealing, I think this is the right choice for our yard. The mower does the job relatively quickly, it can be stored in the shed we already have, and we spent far less money than we would have to get a riding model.
Now that I’ve mowed once, it’ll be a weekly chore through October. Twenty-six weeks of pushing will be the true test of my positive first impressions.