Bill Mollison of Permaculture fame refers to the suburban lawn a "green cancer" due to its lack of productivity and the amount of resources required to maintain it. I can't help but agree in general terms, however, having been a prisoner of suburbia for many years, I also understand that to keep the peace (especially with my partner in self sufficiency - I wanted to plough the front lawn up and plant wheat, but the plan was vetoed - no sense of humour!) a certain amount of lawn is required. So for years I have been harvesting my lawn and using the cuttings to make mulch and compost as well as feed to the chooks. Now that I have a chook tractor operating, the grass clipping have become a valuable resource to be eaten by the chooks as well as dug over into the veggie patches by them. I am even starting to eye off my neighbours lawns when they get a bit high.
Up until 2 years ago I used the conventional petrol powered motor mower to gather in the harvest, but I have now invested in a push mower.
I can still remember back in the 1960's the type of push mower that my father and our neighbours used to use - big cast iron and steel things that seemed to be lubricated with gravel. They took a fair amount of effort to use and it is no wonder that the motor mower took over. Nowadays there are much lighter and more efficient models available, they do not take any more effort to push and consume no fossil fuels. The brand that I have is Flymo but I have seen others available too, you also need to buy a catcher with the push mower so that you can collect the grass clippings for use.
In our local area we have a place called "Bartertown" where materials that are still salvageable are rescued form the tip and then sold off cheaply. On inspection I found that they have a plentiful supply of pre-loved push mowers of varying vintages and conditions. If you have a similar service in your area they would be worth a look. Unfortunately the grass catches do not seem to survive as well so you may still need to buy or make your own catcher, or just rake up the grass afterwards!
The advantages of the push mower are -
As with all things there are some disadvantages to the push mower -
In my experience, the following helps in operation -
I suppose I am a bit masochistic, but there is something satisfying in being able to harvest the grass and have a reasonably tidy property without relying on the petroleum industry to make it all possible. So If you are stuck in suburbia like me, still want to be self sufficientish and are waiting to make the break, look into getting one of the new style push mowers, you will find it a worthwhile investment.