Sunday, August 2, 2009

Benign power edgers

Most of you know that I have never used poisons, chemicals or power machinery on my property for the 34 years that we've lived here. However, I discovered last year an edger -- one of those gadgets that trims the edges of your lawn -- that is incredibly quiet.

I concede that trimming edges by hand, as I do, takes considerably more time than using machinery (a concession I won't make for leaf blowers or power lawn mowers). One can ask why it is done at all. Back in those halcyon* days before power machinery, the edges were consistently messier and I'm not sure that compromised the quality of human life.

I hand-trim mine now strictly to conform to current social norms. My mother used to say, "You have to live within your own culture." I don't know how she would view this possible "waste of time" (wasting time was one of the greatest sins in her opinion), but if I'm to have a yard that shows how nice it can be without power machinery, I feel I should trim the edges several times a year with a hand tool, including the week before each open garden.
If you want to see what a non-trimmed edge looks like, come by surreptitiously about two weeks before an open garden. (The next will be Saturday, Sept. 19, from 2-4 and will feature a butterfly tent in the front yard.)

Anyway, last year when I was visiting my son, his neighbor came out with an edger, and I ran away fast from the expect noise. When it began,I was startled at how quiet it was. I then acquired the catalog; it is advertised as "pollution free" and "whisper quiet." The latter is an exageration, of course, but if the noise doesn't bother Pat Kenschaft, it is remarkable. If people would mow their own lawn, I would forgive them the use of Turnado edgers. It is item number F5-57337 from or call 1 800-229-2901. It cost $39.99, including a battery recharger. It allegedly runs 40 minutes per charge.

I do not feel so benign toward power lawn mowers. When I was a child, lawn mowing time was Daddy time. My father worked at an exempted job during the war and loaded docks all day Saturday and Sunday. Evenings I enjoyed keeping him company in whatever he was doing, and lawn mowing has special happy memories. Many of us find they take no more time than power mowers, and one woman on this list with MS told me last year that she didn't have the strength to use a power mower, so she mows her lawn with a non-power mower.

Leaf blowers are totally unacceptable. Using them nearby makes my husband sick short-term, and some people suffer more than he does. Long-term they endanger the health of all of us by blowing around dust, pollen, and fecal matter. I'm not willing to concede that they take less time than rakes and brooms, but I realize this is controversial. The local health dangers and the contribution to climate change is undeniable. If I were queen, they would be illegal with major penalties.

Happy lawn care! If you want to find a landscaping service that restrains itself, I can give you contact information.


*"halcyon days" refers only to the lack of use of power lawn machinery, which DID make life more pleasant in my youth. I still remember the day I first heard a power lawn mower. I exclaimed to myself, "What! They are going to allow THAT in residential areas?"

I don't mean to imply that everything has gone downhill. In particular, when I was young only men could do lawn care. I'm really glad that women's lib has allowed me to enjoy this activity and some others that were forbidden then. Mowing lawns brings me (and quite a few others) significant pleasure.

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