The Perfect Lawn

Seems like every neighborhood has one: The guy who spends way too much time making his front yard look all perfectly manicured.

One of them lives two houses down. I see him working morning and night using tools I can’t describe let alone use. I don’t believe I could Photoshop a greener more perfect lawn. If a weed dares sprout after an evening shower, it’s gone by the time I pass his yard on my way to work.


I swear this guy worked as a groundskeeper for a major league team before he retired to our neighborhood to make the the rest of us look like landscaping slackers.

My lawn isn’t in the same league. As much as I’d like to blame it on my dog and four kids, I can’t because it rains so much in Seattle it doesn’t take much effort to maintain a green lawn.

The main difference between my lawn and the the lawn of the groundskeeper is the stripes. His lawn looks like Augusta National. Every inch is geometrically designed and executed. No wasted diagonal streaks scarring his masterpiece to be found.

As I gassed up our John Deere this morning I decided to take my time mowing our front yard. Normally, I begin by mowing around the edges before making a few haphazard circles. Eventually I get bored and change things up by mowing the longest grass regardless of location. I don’t plan. I don’t maintain perfect lines. A couple of goats would make work of my lawn in a more organized fashion.

I chalk up the mission as a success if I get through the morning without stepping in dog poop if that’s any indication of the high standards I hold myself to.

So I began by making four or five nearly perfect lines keeping the wheel marks as parallel as possible. I stood back near the street to admire my work. It wasn’t up to groundskeeper standards, but I wasn’t embarrassing myself either.

As I detached the bag full of grass, the kids showed up and wanted to help. First Anna and then Lincoln and Luca. I held the mower while they engaged the wheels by squeezing the lever with their small thumbs. One time back and forth was enough for each of them, and the lawn still looked quite good with just over half completed.


I could finish off the remaining grass in less than ten minutes before moving to the backyard. Kim and maybe all but one neighbor would be impressed. Things were looking up.

And then Kai showed up.

He tugged at my shorts and pointed at the mower.

“He can’t reach the handle”

“He can help mow the backyard”

“There goes my plan for the perfect lawn”

Maybe when I start the engine he’ll be scared enough that he’ll run to mom. Excuses were easy to come by.

Yet I should have known better. Because when I pulled the cord and the engine whirled, Kai stepped up to the mower and grabbed hold of the lower handle as if it had been tailor-made to his height.

After making sure his tiny feet had enough room to walk, I engaged the wheels.

And for the next thirty minutes, we zigzagged our way around the lawn like a Roomba on crack.

Sometimes imperfect is perfect.

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