When it comes to lawn mowing, what is the neighborly thing to do?
Not too early.
Not too late.
Not too long.
And, oh yeah, keep your shirt on.
Last week, we invited readers to respond online to a question about lawn-mowing etiquette.
The comments came fast and furiously. Because Lincoln's rainfall is above average for the summer, lawns are growing strong, which means mowing frequently is a must to keep up with the grass. Noise - and the time of day the mowing is done - was the No. 1 issue among readers, because lawnmowers have a tendency to drown out the quiet in a neighborhood. Interestingly, according to Rick Thorson, environmental health supervisor for air quality at the city Health Department, lawnmowers are exempt from the city noise ordinance.
The ordinance covers all kinds of
other noise, from loudspeakers to musical instruments. It restricts the sound levels from 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. to 65 decibels. At night, from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m., the restriction is lowered to 55 decibels.
The noise level is buffered by things such as fences or landscaping or even clouds in the sky, said Thorson, who usually mows his own lawn right after work.
The city rarely gets lawnmower complaints, but Thorson said it does get complaints about early-morning snow plows.
Another issue among readers was the frequency of mowing. In other words, as Coupe commented online, "Please, people, just mow your yards more than once a month. We only mow for about eight months out of the year. That doesn't mean you only need to mow 8 times. It takes twenty minutes to an hour for most houses per week. Some people act like it's the worst chore in the world to spend 30 minutes in their yard once a week."
Wynn Hjermstad, community development manager for the city Department of Urban Development, said this issue almost always comes up when she addresses neighborhood association meetings.
"We talk options," she said. Neighbors need to get to know each other and find out if there is a reason the lawn hasn't been mowed regularly, she said.
Her department also monitors the neighborhood hot line (402-441-6300). Complaints about "weeds, which is really unmowed lawns," she said, skyrocket in the summer. Last year, during July, August and September, Hjermstad said there were 77 complaints.
The whole idea of being neighborly does apply to lawnmowing, according to our readers.
For instance, vicuna wrote: "The people on either side of me work evenings and nights, which I also do, so we just keep a eye out for one another - once we see each other up and moving for the day, we mow."
And Nina, who wrote: "What is neighborly is not only mowing your yard, but mowing your neighbors' too, because you know they're on vacation that week, etc. We do that for our neighbors and they do it for us."
Heat makes a difference, too. Several people noted they start mowing early in the heat of the summer.
DrTedNelsonPHme commented: "I don't, however, think much about the noise. I live on one of the major streets in Lincoln, it's always noisy here. Sometimes, though, 9 p.m. is too early. If it's a hot, humid July day with triple digits, I may not start mowing until it's nearly dark. Again, if it's a choice between injuring myself due to heat vs. inconveniencing my neighbor, well, I'm sorry. They make earplugs for a reason. I promise I'll finish up as quickly as possible."
One solution to the noise and pollution from mowers came from mike5790: "I xeriscaped my yard (patio), so I don't need a mower."
"CedricSa"wrote: "Reel mowers don't make any noise. I'd love it if someone tried to complain while I used one to mow."
Ultimately, the choice of lawn maintenance equipment is up to the homeowner.
But remember, your neighbors are listening.
Reach Kathryn Cates Moore at 402-473-7214 or email@example.com.