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September 9th, 2006

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The grass is green all right, but it is surprising how much needs to be done in order to keep it that way. Before we bought the house, the owner said that all we needed to do was to mow the grass every couple of weeks during the summer. Oh, and treat for Prodenia in the autumn. And that's it.

Since then, I have done some looking and reading. It appears that grass needs cutting at different lengths at different times. Also, there are brands of grass, which require different treatment. Our grass is called "El-Toro". It requires low mowing (3-5 cm), and it loses its color in winter. It is considered "medium difficulty of handling", and it is known for breaking all boundaries and penetrating areas it should not.

Our friend the Prodenia has turned out to be hairy caterpillars which I have not seen yet, and are supposed to eat the grass roots. The grown up butterfly has already appeared in the grass, so I was anxious to treat for it. Also, it appears that grass should not be cut more than a third of its length, because then the yellow parts would be exposed and no green parts will be left to support them, but the previous owners had better things to do than cutting the grass before they left, and we still did not have a lawn-mower. So we needed the grass to be cut gently the first time(s), and not to its optimal height. In addition, a large part of the grass went wild among potted plants now gone, where wild equals about 20-30 cm.

Hence, getting a lawn-mower was at a high priority. I opted for a small, electric one, which I can easily lift and manipulate, and would not require me to take care of fuel supply. Those come with three cutting heights, only it is not written anywhere how high those heights are. We bought the thing anyway ("Tornado" lawn mower at HomeCenter) and set to assemble it yesterday evening.
It turned out to feel like a cheap Chinese plastic toy (which is what it actually is). The instructions were written in awful Hebrew, and spoke of parts that were not there and had no place to be inserted, according to drawings which did not exist. It felt rather like assembling a jigsaw puzzle according to the picture on the box, because this was the best guide to what should go where.

When we finished assembling it, it was already dark - too late to mow. Also, it appears that there is a lot more to mowing than just operating a big toy truck on 220V. The leaves which fell on the grass aught to be collected first, or the grass would look "neglected" afterward. The grass should be dry, or the cut edges will be attacked, and the machine will get rusted. The cut grass is better chopped and returned to the grass, but too thick a layer of dead material is bad for the grass. And I will not even start about airing places where the grass is heavily treated, diluting it and checking for irrigation.

I tried manually cutting the longest leaves by hand, and it turned out to be an enormous task. I decided to mow it, and allow this long grass to die if it had to, and hope the area will be conquered again. Some things are too much.

I did not get a lawn broom yet, so I used a silicon (?) broom (RavMag) which worked like a charm to collect the leaves. I think I might not get a lawn broom at all.

I asked Muli to set the mower on the highest height. It included fighting against two pairs of springs. The cheap plastic bent under his hands, but he was gracious enough not to give me the look of "this is what happens when you get a cheap thing" (for comparison, this one cost 460 shekels, and the average cost of a "real" fuel mower is about 1300-1700). I did not tell Muli at this point that the toy we got requires a rest of 10 minutes after 15 minutes of work.

After about 20 minutes of pushing the thing over obstacles I never noticed there were under the grass, the lawn looked, well, mowed. Many of the wild areas went away, and left bare ground under them. The leaves (which took a couple of hours to collect) were off the grass now, which significantly improved its look. And thanks to the new gardening gloves and the new (most expensive ones in the store) shears, the old roses got trimmed and some of the low plantation was cut, so we now have some more room in the jungle.

The next phase was the Prodenia phase, which required spreading small balls of poison+fertilizer on a dry lawn using a rotoric hand-held fertilizer spreader , watering it to activate the material, and washing all body, hair, shoes and clothes (preferably separately) later on.

The poison came with harsh instructions to follow the spreader's instructions, and use a certain opening. The spreader came with harsh instructions to use the material's instructions, and use a certain opening. Nowhere on the products (by the same company - Scots) nor on the Internet were there instructions as to how fast to walk or how fast to turn the handle in order to make the material intended for 65 square meters last exactly 65 square meters.
I wanted to spread it walking backwards at first, at one sweep, in order to step in the poison as little as possible. I decided to spread it slowly (in small amounts), and possibly go over the grass several times, in order to assure equal spreading. However, it turned out that what I considered slow was indeed fast, or almost accurate. I finished more than half the material before I reached half the way. Let's see what the Prodenia think about this.

Then comes watering. In order to water I needed to fix the tap, which had a broken 3/4-3/4 nipple (why do they call it a nipple? it is just a connector!). I bought the nipple and intended to just turn the old one and screw the new one in. Then I realized that it was connected on two sides, and turning to open on one side is turning to close on the other. the right thing, I guess, would be to dismantle from one end, but right now it seems like I will need to dismantle the whole irrigation system for this. This cannot be right.

In the meanwhile I opted for directing the dripping water into a container, and using it for manual irrigation. The "dripping" is over 10 liters per hour. I might give up and get a professional person to do that.

Now the lawn is wet and dangerous, and the cat is locked inside until it dries. But the lawn emergency has passed, and I can leisurely enjoy the rest of my Saturday.
Current Mood:
accomplished accomplished
Current Music:
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