Last year I entered a lawn stripes competition. But before you get excited, I didn’t win.
I guess that possibly kills the story right here, but there is more to life than winning a top-of-the-range, state-of-the-art lawn machine. You could buy one, for example, and write about that.
But at the time, I did so need that top prize – a hugely expensive Allett lawn mower with all the various lawn maintenance attachments – scarifier, aerator, you name it. It was mid-summer and my lawn was looking a bit wretched. A win here could make extensive autumn lawn care much less oppressive.
In reality, I’d entered the competition frame a bit late and it was unlikely that my moss-laden main lawn could truly be a contender. So I decided to go for a more creative approach with circular stripes created in a wildflower meadow. ‘In it to win it’, as my wife observed, somewhat dryly I felt.
I have a small stone circle in the meadow, inspired by the nearby Rollright Stones, and with a vague nod to Stonehenge. The circle was created using large ironstone rocks, most of which were unearthed when I prepared my main lawn, but with a ‘King Stone’ sculpted by a cousin-in-law as a wedding present, or so we thought until the £200 bill landed, but that’s another story.
The stones were positioned on the meadow at which point my model-maker neighbour next door helpfully suggested that I part bury them for greater authenticity, making them appear as though they’d been there for centuries. This I duly did. And he was right – ish. But then the stones became swamped by tall grasses, hence the central and surrounding mown circles to expose them – all that initial lifting and digging was not going to waste.
In the run up to the competition closing date, I lowered the mower blades to reduce the flowering plants in the ‘stripes’ and to encourage grass to flourish. But at the eleventh hour, it dawned on me that perhaps ‘tightly mown’ on its own wouldn’t suffice. A more was ‘mown and rolled’ look was what they’d be after. Problem was, I didn’t have a roller, or a mower with a roller.
Ever resourceful and on my hands and knees, I pushed the heaviest cylindrical item I could find around the ‘stripes’ – namely a 10 litre, half-full paint can. Observing close by once more, my wife suggested I borrow a roller from her uncle in the village which again, I duly did. Such was the racket it made being dragged along the road that Sunday evening, I fully expected to be named and shamed in the village newsletter, but I got away with it. However the newly formed stripes still didn’t exactly suggest ‘mown and rolled’, more ‘scalped and flattened’. Nevertheless I figured being a ‘wildflower stripe’, I might just get away with it.
Closing date loomed and more and more high professional and beautifully striped lawn artworks appeared on the Allett’s Facebook page. There’s some top stripers out there and clearly stripes are not as straightforward as they may look. They require skill and practice. Undeterred, I stuck to my creatives guns and uploaded my entry.
I actually received an personalised email from the marketing director acknowledging receipt, which was nice. Probably everyone gets one. Or maybe they were all rolling on the floor in the marketing department and he felt sorry for me. Whatever, I was pleased with my efforts. And there’s always next year. In the meantime, I’ve bought a cheaper machine with scarifier and aerator.