Greener Grass on the Other Side – An Ode to Push Mowing

Inspired by a three-hour marathon in the garden this evening, I thought it would be appropriate to justify my workout by sharing some fun facts about what it means to garden in a non-toxic, greener kind of way.

According to Ontario’s environment ministry, running a two-stroke gas-powered mower for one hour can create as much pollution as driving from Toronto to about Sudbury – that’s roughly 320 kilometers (pollution level depends on the car you drive)…

So a couple of options are to go electric and cut down your pollution by about 90% or get a four-stroke mower which cuts down pollution by about 70%.  Or you can be a super-freak like me and go manual with a swank push mower that runs on excess energy and pent up stress and pollutes the air with only a few swear words here and there as twigs get caught or rocks appear in the blades – it’s all good.

Cutting out the gas-powered blowers with the classic broom is quieter and creates a perfect opportunity to meditate and really be “in the garden” as you sweep.

Pull out dandelions and other weeds before they’ve gone to seed by hand.  For weeds cropping up between the cracks in the pavement you can use (get this…) flat coke.  That’s right, pop will kill weeds in about a week.  Vinegar works as well.

By the time you’re done, you feel like a gardening Goddess that’s burnt a ton of calories and most certainly conditioned the arms and core.  Love handles melt away (ideally) as you sweep the stubborn helicopter buds off the path and driveway.  All these benefits plus that amazing feeling of satisfaction as you marvel at the finished work.  It really is a wonderful feeling and the non-toxic, non-pollutant factor makes it all the more satisfying.

It’s worth ditching the gas guzzlers and over the top toxic weed killers.  One thing I like best about old school gardening is the community aspect.  In a sheltered neighbourhood, that often gets “help” to do outdoor jobs, it’s nice to actually see people outside.  I enjoy it when neighbours pass by with their dogs or kids and can actually have a conversation with you.  Power mowers are loud, obnoxious and anti-social in comparison.

I’m loving the Mow Down Pollution program that takes place annually across Home Depots in Canada.  It’s a take-back program that allows consumers to get cash for their old lawnmowers to trade up for environmentally friendlier replacements.  Last year they took back 7,300 old mowers and since 2001, the program has “retired” over 34,000 gas-powered mowers and trimmers reducing more than 1,100 tonnes of greenhouse gas and smog-forming emissions – sweet!!

There’s a lot of ways to enjoy your garden naturally.  This summer I’ll be exploring the creation of a vegetable garden as well as collecting rainwater through a barrel and composting. I’ve made up every excuse in the book to avoid the veggie garden in the city – I started with time and lack of space and then moved to raccoons and other possible predators.  In the end, I guess it’s just a matter of finding ways around these issues.  I think I’m ready to take the leap and besides the obvious benefits to growing your own food, it makes for a good family project.  I’ve been a bit of a skeptic about the rain barrel mostly because sadly, I’m still a water pressure junkie. I should smarten up though because in Canada, our water consumption goes up by 50% each summer.  Wasting water is not cool and yet I still see a lot of sidewalks getting watered everyday in the middle of hot summer days.

So much to evolve….so little time….sigh.


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