29 November 2021

Mowing schedule woes continue amid long grass, rain ... and goats?

| Lottie Twyford
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Slow down near mowing operations.

Long grass has become the bane of many Canberrans’ existence. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

With rain comes growth – and while no one would argue this is a bad thing, many agree it is possible to have too much of a good thing. As in grass.

There’s long, out-of-control grass everywhere you look – and in some cases, local sports grounds are out of action and motorists are struggling to see past it as it takes over roundabouts and verges around Canberra.

While the ACT Government says it’s only two weeks behind its regular mowing schedule, the Opposition simply doesn’t think that’s good enough, saying the same excuses of ‘unexpected rain’ are heard year upon year.

In response, Opposition whip Jeremy Hanson last week moved a motion in the place of Opposition spokesperson for city services Nicole Lawder calling on the ACT Government to update its mowing schedule in response to weather patterns and increase funding.

Mr Hanson wasn’t willing to cut the government any slack, even though the Bureau of Meteorology has just declared a La Niña in the Pacific Ocean, and it’s very likely this month could become the city’s wettest month ever recorded.

“Every year, when we get a bit of rainfall, the government just does not keep up with the mowing,” he said.

“Their excuse is ‘oh, well, we weren’t expecting this.”

“They need to be better prepared.”

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The Opposition called for more resources, surge funding and a better long-term strategy to get the mowing done.

Mr Hanson said the motion was being moved in order to express the concerns of frustrated Canberrans.

He accused the ACT Government of continual neglect of basic services and of losing touch with the ordinary Canberran.

“There’s no doubt that this government is not focused on suburbs and on the things that matter to Canberrans,” Mr Hanson said.

“It’s got its priorities wrong.”

Minister for City Services Chris Steel, however, said staying on top of mowing was already one of the government’s highest priorities.

He said preparation for this year’s mowing program started in July and is now going ahead at full capacity, but the Government could not control the rain.

“Even with the best-laid plans, you can’t mow a lawn when it’s wet,” he said. “It damages the equipment and it’s a safety issue.”

Mr Steel said that despite all of the rain, the mowing program was only two weeks behind and mowing crews were working as hard as possible.

The Government did not support Mr Hanson’s motion, instead almost entirely amending it to call on the ACT Government to “continue providing high levels of funding to mowing activities” and to recognise the impacts of recent rainfall and the pandemic.

Elsewhere in the city, innovative methods are being used to keep on top of land management.

Elisabeth Larsen with a goat

Elisabeth Larsen with one of her star goats, Monty, who chews away at invasive weeds on NCA lands. Photo: NCA.

The National Capital Authority, for example, uses goats to manage introduced weeds on some of its lands that are outside of the National Triangle.

NCA Open Space manager Michelle Jeffrey said goats are handy because they have a massive appetite for the kinds of species land managers deem ‘invasive’ such as blackberry and hawthorn.

“What they don’t eat, they trample,” Ms Jeffrey explained.

“This helps reduce the bio-mass and makes it easier for any follow-up crews to come through.”

They are managed by Goat Manager Elisabeth Larsen who keeps them in order with an electric-fenced pen that keeps them in, and other animals like dogs, out.

Unlike crews, goats also don’t need lunch breaks and they don’t mind working weekends either, Ms Jeffrey noted.

But the goats can’t be used to mow lawns and it turns out even they don’t like the rain that much.

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Capital Retro12:07 pm 30 Nov 21

“They put the sheep in the solar panel paddocks along Monaro near Rose Cottage. Win win!”

Probably some sort of tax dodge.

Capital Retro8:18 am 30 Nov 21

If Tim Flannery was asked about the situation he would say: “there will be no rain so no grass will grow and even the grass that does grow would not be mown”.

And he would be half-right, for a change.

How about getting those wonderful men and women on Community Corrections Orders and non-custodial sentences out and about pushing mowers?

Capital Retro1:11 pm 29 Nov 21

“Never seen Canberra look so poor and unkept. Absolute disgrace”

That’s because the spick and span National Arboretum (a bottomless money-pit) gets allocated too many grass cutting resources.

Lol I’m sure that’s the explanation (insert sarcastic rolling eyes here)…..

Capital Retro12:05 pm 30 Nov 21

If someone could access the financial accounts for the money tree farm there would be more eyes rolling.

David Fenwicke10:26 pm 28 Nov 21

The grass needs to be mown before it sets seed otherwise noxious weeds like Chilean needle grass which I saw on Northbourne avenue today will spread like wildfire

Hi. Mowing is necessary in some areas. However many parts of Canberra that don’t need mowing are mown. e.g. many median strips. Mowing is costly, produces CO2, as makes an area of negligible environmental value, and encourages Noisy Miners, which keep other birds away. The no-mow area in our Landcare area has great native grasses and saves a lot. Some of the ten million dollars, or so, spent each year on mowing could easily be saved, at the same time creating better habitat.

Lawn mowers, or any internal combustion engine for that matter, do not produce CO2.

Capital Retro3:04 pm 28 Nov 21

I think you mean Indian Mynas. Noisy Miners are people like Clive Palmer and Twiggy Forrest.

ChrisinTurner8:45 pm 27 Nov 21

It should be the law that people have to mow their own nature strip.

Mabo Drive in Bonner is always so unkept, just got a partial mow but there are still long grass/weed stems everywhere not a nice place to take you dog for a walk and hard to see at all the roundabouts 🙁

The regime is busy planning decades ahead for climate changes, and forgot to plan months ahead for weather changes.

The roundabout at Monaro Highway/Isabella Drive is particularly dangerous with the height of the grass. You should be able to see a vehicle approaching the roundabout, not hidden by the grass. This is really dangerous and the ACT government should pull their finger out before there is a serious accident

Of course, both sides of politics could encourage interested and motivated residents to “adopt a patch” and reduce the total mowing load. It would encourage community pride, health and resilience as well as saving a few $. I do some government land adjoining my patch whenever I have my mower out, as does my neighbour. Our adopted pieces look neat as a pin, shame not all the other neighbours have taken a similar approach.

Capital Retro1:50 pm 27 Nov 21

That would be tantamount to the cosseted cyclists in Canberra who get free bike tracks and then complain that they can’t use them because the government won’t remove rubbish from them actually getting off their unregistered bikes and cleaning the tracks themselves.

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