Mown, mown,mown

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The Independent Online
Spring is with us and as my old friend William Shakespeare used to say: "Now is the time when a young man's fancy turns to mowing the lawn."

Yes, indeed. A nation awakes and the suburbs sing with the gentle hum of the electronic grass cutting device. After the dark winter weeks incarcerated in sheds, garages and B&Q warehouses, lawnmowers are being liberated in a mass celebration of nature's marvellous capacity for self-renewal.

Personally, I find mowing the lawn a pain, but I know that if I want to get to pour petrol on the barbecue in summer I have to cut the grass in spring. Such is the nature of the Boy's Own charter.

I would find cutting the grass less offensive if the mowing season did not coincide with spring. I do not blame nature for this. Rather I blame the marketeers who have turned spring into a mindless orgy of DIY. If it was just mowing the lawn it would not be too bad. But when this task has been completed there are 1,001 other little jobs that need to be done. None of these can be accomplished without a visit to your local DIY superstore where cunningly they have invented another 1,001 little jobs which need to be done.

The trick is that these jobs are, in turn, self-perpetuating. You cannot, for instance, just put up a garden shed. Once it has been erected it then has to be painted or varnished. Then it has to be waterproofed and weatherproofed. That means you need paint, paintbrushes, paintbrush cleaner, paintbrush preserver and paintbrush storage containers. The shed needs shelves. Then it needs things to go on the shelves. And so on. You try to put the lawnmower in the shed but it will not fit because of the shelves and the things that are on the shelves. It is time to get another shed.

The same is true of lawns. Cutting the grass is just the start of your relationship. There are all kinds of gadgets and potions which the enthusiast can use to fill a garden full of sheds. I used to think "Keep off the Grass" was a forerunner of the "Say No to Drugs" campaign. I am not therefore a natural nurturer. I do not think lawns need to be fed, treated or sprinkled.

They should be afforded the same status as Brazilian rain forests: encouraged to grow to great heights without being ruthlessly chopped down once or even twice a week. Years ago I lived in a house where I refused to cut nature off in her prime and let the front lawn return to its natural habitat. After some weeks the neighbours offered me use of a lawnmower. I politely declined. Then, while I was on holiday, they cut the lawn for me.

My unmown lawn was perceived to be depressing house prices in our cul de sac. I had never seen the lawn quite in those terms. It seems, however, that while the grass of itself does not add thousands to the value of a property, if the lawn is left untended it suggests an irresponsibility of ownership which can significantly reduce what a property is worth. Tidy lawn, tidy profit appears to be the motto here.

I am hopeful that the onset of spring will bring a healthy bout of lethargy amongst those charged with the responsibility of controlling the lawn. I see grass spiralling heavenwards and property prices tumbling in inverse proportion. I see a window of opportunity to make a house purchase at an affordable house. Then I see traffic jams outside Homebase and realise that lawns are once again going to be cut down to size. At times like this I would normally curl up in bed and go to sleep. Unfortunately the suburbs are singing with the hum of lawn mowers.