- Ada, Oklahoma

June 5, 2013

Lawn Optimization

Bobby Winters Guest Columnist

Ada —

Having just finished getting my lawn accredited by NALM, the National Association of Lawn Mowers, I can’t just rest on my laurels. It is a time of reflection. One thing I am reflecting on is the fact that I got such a high rating. If my lawn was rated that high, maybe, just maybe, I am working too hard on it.

That’s right. Lawn accreditation is one thing. You pretty much have to have it if you are going to be taken seriously, but beyond a certain point, you are just feeding your own vanity. The principal mission of NALM is to spread the health and spiritual benefits of mowing. I contend that the aesthetic portion of the mission statement of NALM was just an afterthought.

In any case, I’ve gotten my accreditation. The question I need to ask myself now is this: Can I get it again without working quite so hard?

Yes, that’s right. There is a line that marks the difference between in and out. How close can I get to it and still be in?

This might go against many things you’ve been taught about doing your very best at all times, but let me guess: the people who said that were trying to get you to work, right? They were likely your employers trying to optimize the value of their dollar. There is nothing wrong with that just as there is nothing wrong with you trying to optimize the value of your time.

My optimization begins with the question "can I get the same" results with less work? I approach this by getting into the weeds, as it were, and looking at the details of how I currently do my job. In any case, I start on the northeast corner of the front yard. The entirety of the front yard takes half an hour. The front yard divides naturally into seven pieces, each piece of which takes slightly over four minutes to mow, on the average.

This is important. Four minutes is an amount of time that the mind can tolerate. People who train can hold their breaths for four minutes. You can endure a lot of pain as long as you don’t have to do it for more than four minutes.

So the front yard is a piece of cake.

The back yard, by way of contrast, is a pill. It can take anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour, depending upon how much debris I have to mow over. The back yard only divides naturally into four zones. That means that, even on a good day, these zones on the average take more than ten minutes to complete.

In the world of mowing, ten minutes is an eternity.

Try holding your breath for ten minutes. You’d pass out.

My plan is--and I’ve already piloted it--to redefine my mowing zones. I will divide the natural mowing regions further. This will be done in a natural manner as well, but I will use my deeper knowledge of the geography of my lawn to better refine the process.

Yes, we will retain our NALM accreditation, but we will do it with less efficiency.