The trials and errors of mowing the lawn in Arkansas
There is no doubt that some of the most beautiful lawns are grown right here in Arkansas. Those gorgeous lawns take a bit of work, especially with such a long growing season keeping the lush green for a good portion of the year. What does it take to get the best lawn possible? For starters, it takes a few hard-earned lessons.
There’s a right way – and a not so right way – of doing things.
Though there was a few weeks’ delay in this year’s growing season, I had already mowed a half-dozen times by the middle of April. It wasn’t grass I was mowing, except for a few tufts of rye and fescue, but weeds. Lots of weeds. Or, so it seemed. My fear was that the weeds would choke out the bermuda grass, which took a few weeks longer to start growing. So, I set the mower to the lowest height setting and mowed often. I wanted a thick, green, consistent lawn and that was what was behind my thinking. Boy, was I mistaken.
Ah, if only that were the extent of the trials and errors! But, no, when and how to mow is just half of the equation. The other half is the lawn mower itself. With a postage-stamp sized lawn, I bought an inexpensive Briggs Stratton to do the job.
The first few times, the mower did just fine. I expected as much since it was only going into its third mowing season. By the third time though, it was starting to give me fits. It was running at very low RPMs and stalling every time it hit a patch of grass that was just a little dense. A friendly neighbor came to the rescue, found that a spring had come off some doo-hickey, and, not knowing where that spring was actually supposed to be connected to, set it to run at such high RPMs that it felt like the machine was going to take off and fly.
So, I went to YouTube and found a helpful video that explains the where, when and why of getting that ol’ mower to behave without dying or flying. With my trusty toolbox in hand, I tore the thing down and got the thing running again, almost perfectly.
The reprieve was temporary though. My son took a turn at mowing, and it was back to stalling out all the time. In the process of restarting and restarting, the pull chord broke.
Despite a fair bit of nagging, my son decided to ignore my advice to hit YouTube for clear instructions on how to replace the pull chord, along with some tried and true tricks to doing the job quickly and easily. Talking with the guys at work, he heard that replacing the pull chord was a bear, especially when it came time to get the spring reloaded and the whole assembly reassembled. Alas, he learned from a video that you weren’t supposed to take it apart so that the spring is unloaded – after the fact. The end result: the purchase of another inexpensive mower.
I wish that marked the happily-ever-after end to the story, but the setup of the new mower wasn’t seamless. Why? Well, the manual wasn’t even glanced at. Sure, it should be common sense; sure, putting in oil and gas should be enough to get up and go. But that get up and go up and left after a few passes. The thing died, complete with smoke coming out of where you put the oil in.
I only got a few good nags in before my son hit YouTube, found a helpful video and got the thing running again. Lesson learned. At last.
White County resident, freelance writer, photographer and blogger. Email her, visit her at A Bumpy Path and Out in the Back Yard for more neurotic enlightenment and visual stimulation.