Fortunately I have a lot of history with mowing grass so I enjoy the challenge and take it seriously.
The odds are good that I am an anachronism and not just when it comes to the grass in my yard. Most people view their yards as a royal pain and I looked at it the same way for many years.
As a youngster, I worked hard at getting out of mowing our tiny yard in Lewisville, North Carolina. It seemed an impossibly large sea of green. Little did I know what was in store for me.
When my wife and I got married and moved to St. Croix Cove, Nova Scotia, I used to joke that it was in our marriage contract that we could never have a yard which I could not mow with an eight foot bush hog. This picture of her standing in the long grass might lead you to the same conclusion that I had at the time. Perhaps I was actually winning the lawn war.
That did not last very long. The next summer my mother came up to visit. She and my wife went down the mountain to Bridgetown and came back with a small Toro mower. The grass around the house got cut to look like a real yard instead of a clipped pasture. I have now been pushing a Toro mower for over forty years.
There was the period on the farm when we had a Cub Cadet riding mower and the Toro for the rougher parts of the yard. Then there were the two years we lived in Maryland after living in Halifax, Nova Scotia where I went to work for Apple. The heat shock of moving from Canada to the seemingly tropical rainforest of Maryland and all the travel with my job meant we briefly switched to a lawn service.
When we moved to Roanoke, Virginia, the Toro came with us, and I resumed mowing our yard. We had a wonderful looking bluegrass yard there. About ten years into stay in Roanoke, the original Toro wore out and I had to get another one, but I kept mowing because I had grown to like mowing.
On the farm it was not unusual for me to mow three hundred acres of hay a season. There is an art to doing a good job when mowing a hay field. There is a great sense of satisfaction when you have cut down twenty acres of almost waist high grass and the corners are done as neatly as the hospital corners on a bed. There is a lot of pride that comes from doing a job and having it done to perfection.
However, doing a centipede yard to perfection is easier said than done. The picture at the top of the post is part of our centipede yard at the end of last August when we had plenty of moisture. Unlike bluegrass lawns which have a habit of looking beautiful and green like this in early spring, centipede yards often look like this picture that I took on April 16, 2015.
If you work on the weeds, fertilize it very little and cut it the right way, it might look like the picture at the top of the post. I am making some progress with my centipede grass, but you certainly do not have to worry about it getting away from you like a bluegrass lawn which might need mowing twice a week in spring. Sometimes I have had to mow bluegrass after snow melted off of it. While bluegrass will work you to death with twice a week mowing in the spring and completely overwhelm you if you let it get ahead of you, centipede hardly needs mowing every two to three weeks in April and May.
Adapting to something different is good for you, but it is hard to love centipede because it does not respond to love like bluegrass. Toss some seed on a bluegrass lawn in the fall and the fall rains will rejuvenate it. It is not that easy with centipede. Sometime it just does not want to grow. Even when it does grow, it grows sideways.
Beyond the grass, mowers are not what they used to be. What I declared to be the best mower in the land in 2007, turned out to be not nearly as good as that Toro bought in the spring of 1974 which lasted over 25 years.
Still I like mowing my yard but you have to be careful here in the South. The combination of heat and humidity can do in almost anyone including me. Fortunately I have gotten a lot more cautious and tend to mow our yard over a couple of days in the hottest weather.
Once in a while all of us get caught and have to mow on a tough day. It feels great when you get it done and hit the shower. If shower is on completely cold water and it still feels good, you know that you have earned your credentials as a true Southerner.