Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On Edge

We spent well over three hours edging our lawn yesterday. Edging is a relatively esoteric thing some people inflict on their lawns. Urban dweller's lawns constantly try to overtake sidewalks, curbs and driveways. Upstanding lawn owners will fight back and edge their lawns and keep them in their place. Some people go so far as to edge their grass on a regular basis. Not us. We put this strenuous task very low on the totem pole of homeowner chores. Every time we look at the grass creeping ever farther out onto the sidewalk, we think "Gee, we oughta edge the lawn." And then common sense prevails and we go camping or bike riding or something else far more preferable that edging the lawn. There's at least a million activities that easily take precedence over edging a lawn.

Well, meanwhile, the grass seizes its opportunity and grows ever farther onto flat concrete. Pretty soon, the grass brings along soil, too, and before you know it, you're looking at some serious excavation to put the lawn back in its place. As a Professional Procrastinator, I would rather do almost anything EXCEPT edge the lawn.
And so the years have passed since we last performed this chore and the grass has been happily encroaching on any available flat concrete expanse. Finally, the moment of truth arrived yesterday. We knew it was time to go mano-y-mano with the vicious edging machine and all the related work such a dirty job entails.

Lawn edging machines are as odd ball and as dangerous a landscape machine as you are likely to find. They remind me of a helicopter design that never made it off the drawing board. They have a whirling blade that would easily amputate your hand if you were so stupid as to stray within its sphere of spin. There's levers galore, wheels here and there and a noisy, balky little engine to power it all. it's a heavy machine and not self-propelled. Meanwhile, the edger has a mind of its own and absolutely loves to stray off course, creating edges that look like the work of a bunch of drunken sailors who painted a highway centerline stripe.

Yesterday, I got smart. (Oh, oh!) I bought 25 little yellow flags on thin steel pins from Harbor Freight. Then, I got on my hands and knees and crawled painstakingly along a total of 250 lineal feet of lawn edge towing a long-handled axe. I chopped out the grass and soil to find the edge of the concrete and put a little flag every 2-3 feet. In this manner, I had an "aiming point" to keep the gnarly edger aligned and on track to produce a relatively straight edge line. It worked great, even if passersby did double takes and probably thought there was an old crippled beggar crawling along the sidewalk of 12th Street.

Meanwhile, once the edger has done it's thing, the battle's not over. The next step it to take a flat bladed ice scraper and somehow detach the grass and soil strips from the main lawn. That's a VERY strenuous part of this lawn edging gig.
And it still ain't over. You then have to deal with miles of piles of dirt and grass and debris and dust. As usual, Susun worked like a whirling dervish on the debris removal and, luckily, the machine didn't die half way through the project. We hauled off several full wheel barrows of soil and perhaps 10 or more bags filled to weight capacity with grass strips.

We returned the rented machine a about four hours after we checked it out and they gave us the "half day" rate so the total cost was only $26.50. After the whole job was finished and the cleanup done, we both felt like we'd been in a high school wrassling match. We're still pretty gimpy this morning, too. I remarked to Susun that lawn edging is one job where landscapers really earn their money and probably the ONLY landscaping job that's worth paying someone else to do.

You're probably wondering why bother with lawn edging. What's so bad about grass creeping out onto the sidewalks? Well, those are good questions. Here's your answers: If you don't edge the grass, water will build up on the sidewalks and then turn to a sheet of ice in the winter. Water (when it's warm enough to melt) needs drainage along the edges of the sidewalks. If there's no where to drain, you're going to have sheet ice all winter long. Secondly, having a knife edge along the sidewalks makes it 1000% easier to navigate a snowblower. When the snowblower runs into grass edges it messes up the snowblower and it's a royal pain to deal with. OK, now we know you're wondering, "Well, if you're not going to be there during the winter, why bother?" Once again, good question. There's a law on the books here that the homeowner has the clear legal obligation to keep their sidewalks free of snow and ice. So, we're going to have to pay somebody to keep our sidewalks clear. If our walks are easy to do, our contractor is going to thank us and be a Happy Snow Blower! Meanwhile, having easy-to-navigate walks means the neighbors might even do it once in awhile, too. Got that? We hope so.

Well, cross one more task off the Arizona Trip Prep Checklist!

Cheers, jp

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