40 years ago I began my landscape career as a mow jockey, eight hours a day pushing a 21″ Snapper mower. The more seasoned workers got to use the triple reel ride-on Toros on the larger turf areas, leaving the rookies to mow the smaller panels adjacent to office and apartment buildings.
It was never fun, but I was a young man beginning a new career and went home each day tired but content. I took pride in creating straight lines and not leaving clippings on the hardscapes, weeds pulled and trash picked up.
In the 1980’s there was still small concern in the Pacific Northwest regarding irrigation and the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides – the goal was green grass without weeds, and contractors provided it, or lost the job to someone else. It was a competitive market in a strong economy.
Somewhere along the line the environmental movement started to zero in on golf courses, and soon all turfgrass became an issue due to the resources needed to keep it green and beautiful. The fact is, in my region the use of cool-season turf means fighting the natural habit of the plants to grow dormant during the summer with ample irrigation and fertilizer application. At the same time, I was growing weary of the effort required in my job and became sympathetic to eradicating turfgrass as a landscape staple.
I read that the EPA estimates that Americans use one third of our water to irrigate their lawns, and although I don’t necessarily buy that statistic, one thing that does offend me is seeing sprinklers running along and water streaming down the sidewalk, due to poor timing or adjustment.