Wives should start with lawns to understand husbands
Published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group May 4, 2017
By Ray Hanania
Wives just don’t get why lawns are so important to men.
Honestly, I am not sure why lawns are so important to men either, but I do know that the lawn is the front line in manhood. Machismo. Masculinity. Gallantry.
I remember the first time my dad showed me how to mow the law. Of course, back in the early 1960s, we didn’t use a gas mower. That was too costly. We used a push mower, with blades attached to the wheels that turned when you pushed and the wheels turned.
My dad would point to the neighbors and it was clear, the homes with neatly cut lawns were respectful. The ones that looked like prairies were where the trouble would always be.
And you know what? It was true. The kids in the neatly managed lawns were nicer, more polite and respectful. The kids in homes with “distressed lawns” had troubled kids. Bullies.
I can see those kids sitting in jail wondering what caused their lives to go so wrong.
I bought a push mower a few years ago and sure enough, “Afib” nailed me, had a mitral valve repair, and the push mower got all the blame. It could have been that dozens of Diet Coke I drank daily.
It was the push mower.
But my dad told me that your home is your castle and the lawn is the front sign that reflects that home to the world.
Ever since, I have always planned my Spring, Summer and Fall schedules around mowing the law, making time to get it done.
And you just don’t “mow” the lawn either. It’s a science. You divide the lawn into square or rectangular sections. You cut each grouped meticulously getting the grassed edged.
If you have a good mower, you can edge the lawn without Step 2, using the Edger.
Most importantly, you visually identify where your lawn ends and your neighbor’s lawn begins. You never cut their lawn, not because you don’t want to help them, but because you don’t want to make your lawn look bigger at the expense of your neighbor.
The worst thing is when a neighbor who you might share a lawn section along the street curb and they cut your section along with theirs. It makes their lawn look gigantic and neat, and your lawn look awkward and cheap.
And even worse than that is when a neighbor doesn’t care about their lawn letting it grow like a scene from The Jungle Book.
You have to fertilize at least three times a year, Spring, Summer and Fall. And the height of the grass cut changes, higher in the beginning of the mowing season and low at the very end.
Get rid of the Dandelions. Pull the weeds. It doesn’t matter if you cut straight or believe that the diagonal cut looks better.
There is nothing like a freshly cut lawn with its rows of light and dark cuts (caused by the direction of the mower), and that fresh smell of grass cuttings.
I use a mulcher, a lawn mower that not only cuts the lawn but dices up the cuttings as you push over the grass. It’s not because it’s easier than raking and bagging the clippings. It’s because the grass mulching left on the lawn serves to keep nutrients in the lawn.
A good lawn mower lasts about six to seven years. The back wheels should be larger than those in the front. Last week, I went to Menards and purchased a mulcher with All Wheel Drive.
My wife chided me and asked why I haven’t spent any time looking for an AWD SUV to replace the main car?
Little do you know, woman! (Don’t tell her I said that. She’ll get really mad.)
Lawnmowers are dangerous, though. You have to watch the blades. Years ago my cousin came from Venezuela to visit and he was obsessed with the lawn mower, watching me mow the lawn each week.
He wanted to do it, and I said yes. He was at my mom’s home insisting on mowing the lawn when the grass bunched up, he bent down to pull the grass out. Fortunately, Christ Hospital put both fingers back and they worked great.
I didn’t see him exporting the American lawnmower trend to South America after that trauma.
I walk the lawn before mowing just to make sure there are no baby rabbits or fallen birds in the grass. I managed to spot a frog and a garden snake, saving their lives – although you don’t see garden snakes in the southwest suburbs that much any more.
It’s good exercise, too, more than 6,500 steps according to my Fitbit watch.
Mowing the lawn. It’s a Man Thing. I enjoy it.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)