Bobby Winters Guest Columnist
The Ada News
When I write about mowing, I get a lot of feedback. Some of it comes in the form of questions. One question I get is: Is NALM real? NALM, of course, is the National Association of Lawn Mowers. Asking whether NALM is real is like asking is Santa Claus real? Is the Easter Bunny real? Or like looking at Dolly Parton and asking ... well, you know.
The existence of NALM like the existence of any similar entity depends upon the metaphysics you choose to work in. There’s talk about a webpage for it. Can you get more real than that?
I also get information. Pursuant to my annual column about the importance of the first mowing of the year, one spry dowager wrote to remind me about the importance of the second mowing.
She’s right, of course. The second mowing is very important, but we enter into more subtle territory, one that might be too much for beginners to take in all at one sitting.
As a matter of review, recall the last mowing of the year is important because we need to time it optimally. You want to wait late enough so there is minimal growth afterwards, but not so late that you will be handicapped by the coming of winter. The point of aiming for minimal post-mowing growth is so there will be a “green bomb” effect after the first warmish rain of the spring.
In the first mowing of the year, you are beginning that weekly cycle of lawncare that will take you into September/October. In my case, this involved topping the weeds that constitute the majority of the lawn.
After the first mowing, even though everyone tells you the lawn “sure looks nice,” you know better. You’ve been over it foot-by-foot, inch-by-inch, gopher-hole-by-gopher-hole. You know every flaw, every scar, and you know it’s not really filled in yet.
The second mowing is important because you get that filled in look so prized by the experts at NALM. It also gives you that warm satisfied feeling that is simply lacking in the first mowing.
This is the point that if you are really serious about your lawn, you should also begin to think about edging.
Yes, I’ve just used the “e-word.”
Edging is a sensitive topic to many and I am no exception. Having come into town and civilization from a rural area where mowing is all about snake control, edging is a foreign concept to me. I am not a native edger. I am not a part of the edging tradition. All I know is if you can edge it, a snake can’t be hiding in there to begin with. It’s that simple.
My genetic problem with edging is compounded by the fact people can get really persnickety and argue about it in the same way Lutherans and Catholics argue about the nature of the eucharist. You can believe it’s very important but you can’t understand what they are saying.
Let me preface the sequel by saying I am very much in the process of becoming comfortable when it comes to edging. I cannot afford a special edging tool so I’ve pressed a weed-eater into service in that area. The persnickety purist will say I am simply setting myself up for failure, and my only defense is to reply that poor folks have poor ways.
In the past, I have used gas-powered weedeaters and, though they are powerful, I’ve found them to be unreliable. It’s hard to get them started. Once you get them started, it’s hard to keep them going.
This is especially a problem if you are trying to pawn the job off on the wife and she doesn’t have the requisite upper body strength for the task.
I’ve dealt with this by opting for a paradigm shift over to the rechargeable, battery-powered weedeater. No mixing of fuel because there is no fuel to mix. You don’t have to worry about having the upper body strength to start it, and once it’s started, you don’t have to worry about keeping it going. You can also make yourself believe that is "greener" than using a gas-powered weedeater if you forget that fossil fuels are used to generate electricity.
In any case, mine is awesome. It makes edging a breeze, especially when I get Jean to use it, and the edging for the year will begin as soon as I get it charged.
Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com.