Just a mow: A little tact is called for

JUDE GILLIES
Last updated 12:48 28/09/2012
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LOVELY LAWNS: Daylight saving brings the start of the summer lawn-mowing season, a noisy business that calls for careful timing to keep the neighbours happy.

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Daylight saving starts tomorrow night. Yippee. Goodbye winter. Bring on those long, mellow, fragrance-filled evenings of spring and summer.

Bring on those fun times around the barbie and easy, outdoor dinners.

Bring on the sound of birds chirping in the late evening light and the smell of freshly cut grass.

And bring on some rules of engagement for the modern obsession with mowing lawns.

Daylight saving may not make the grass grow quicker or the curtains fade faster, but it definitely means the start of the mowing season. And that means lots of lawn mower-laden, neighbourhood angst.

Not wanting to be one to spoil the fun, it seems to me there's lots of scope in the urban jungle for some rules around the mowing of lawns. Hands up those who haven't been rudely woken on a Sunday morning by the sound of the neighbour giving the turf a short back and sides. Or, equally annoying, the full throttle roar of the neighbour's two-stroke starting up just as you sit down to a gin and tonic in the calm, daylight-saved evening.

True, there's nothing quite like the smell of freshly cut grass and the distant purr of a well-tuned mower. It's a battle of (mostly) man and mower, pitched against the urban equivalent of the jungle, of dangerously sharp, rotating blades against soft, green cellulose.

It's a war of control and dominance, clipping the natural inclinations of a dense and numerous, but vulnerable enemy.

It's the home garden statement of submission, of law and order; no defiant sprouts or unkempt edges to spoil the look, only countless blades of grass cut down to the same, uniform size.

Cutting grass is what we do when the neighbours, friends and family are invited to dinner or when the offspring come home with another tattoo/body piercing/dodgy school report or the car has blown a gasket and we “need a bit of space”.

To the keen eye of a fellow traveller, the unmown lawn is a comforting sign of someone who hasn't completely given in to the conformist demands of the standard urban subdivision.

Lawn mowing is where country folk escape the style dictates of suburbia with longer lawns and a casual, “rural look”.

It's what gives dandelions attitude, forcing them to change their carefree, windblown ways to sneaky, low-lying habits.

It's what gives licence to onehunga weeds to scatter their insidiously prickly seeds around the lawn, invading and destroying havens for barefoot summers.

It's what keeps the petrol pumps going and the bank account diverted from other, more fun forms of entertainment.

It's what kids do for their grandmother or for the sick person down the road.

It's what you or your spouse do on a Saturday morning or weekday daylight saving evening.

And, ready or not, it's coming to a lawn near you.

Which is why, I suggest, a little bit of etiquette would go a long way to ensuring everyone has a happy summer.

No pressure, folks, but let's be kind out there. Perhaps you could opt for a voluntary cutoff time between getting home from work on the weekdays and sitting down to enjoy the barbie, a sort of friendly neighbourhood happy hour of mowing.

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Alternatively, the weekend cut could be scheduled for only after midday on a Sunday, even for those who aren't churchgoers, and perhaps after midmorning coffee on a Saturday.

And, dare I suggest, making the cut together offers the chance for a sort of happy neighbourhood mow-in, sharing clip techniques and style manoeuvres and, I'm thinking, synchronised mowing.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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