Is it time we took mowing into our own hands?

Lottie Twyford 8 December 2021 153
Grass at the Barton Highway/Gold Creek intersection

Have you been tempted to take the mowing matters into your own hands yet? Photo: John Miller.

There’s grass, grass, everywhere and not a mower in sight, at least according to the many Canberrans who detailed their own mowing woes after a recent story about the state of the grass in the ACT.

But while it’s no secret there has been an awful lot of rain this year, to which the ACT Government is attributing its current delays, there are many of you out there who said you simply took matters into your own hands.

Whether a high-tech ride-on or not, there are several local heroes getting out and about and mowing not only their grass but the community’s, too.

In Dunlop, you may have seen local resident Allan, who’s been spotted out and about mowing several streets to keep things looking tidy.

Others, such as Jon, are keen to take matters into their own hands and think a community-organised grass-roots (literally) mowing group would be a good idea.

Some turned to Facebook to offer their trusted tools, like Slade Minson, whose little mower ‘Rover’ may not be a fancy ride-on but proved it was still able to get the job done in the suburbs.

The little-mower-that-could was purchased for only $40 on Marketplace.


The trusty Rover on his mission. Photo: Slade Minson.

Initially, Slade posted on Facebook to – in his own words – “have a bit of a rant about the state of things like mowing and potholes”. But the response he got wasn’t entirely positive.

That’s because along with people agreeing with him, some Canberrans reminded him that he could get out and do something about it.

So, along came Rover.

While Slade said he won’t be taking over the mowing job entirely, he did a couple of patches around his house, and ended up helping out a household in his neighbourhood where none of the residents was physically able to tackle their own mowing in the back garden.

“I’ve been wanting to get out and do a bit more in the community for a while now,” Slade said. “This seemed like a good way to do it.”

READ ALSO: Community welcomes improved Molonglo Group Centre plan

In the ACT, the only public land residents are expected to mow is their verge – the strip of land between the residential property boundary and the adjacent roadway.

An ACT Government spokesperson said while community support in mowing public areas other than verges is appreciated, it is not expected.

“Safety is important and accidents can occur. We are required to do a thorough assessment of the proposed site ahead of any works,” the spokesperson said.

“The ACT Government’s mowers are equipped with guards, cut-off switches and staff are trained to deal with various safety scenarios.”

According to the ACT Government, staying on top of the mowing remains one of their top priorities.

The government also regularly updates its mowing map to show where crews have recently mowed and where they are planning to mow in the coming weeks.

READ ALSO: Can more be done with Canberra’s dryland ovals?

The government spokesperson said all suburban areas have been cut at least once this season. Most areas are now receiving a second cut, and “crews are working hard to keep up with rapid growth as we move into summer”.

But, as Minister for City Services Chris Steel put it, “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.”

The Opposition has refuted these claims. They say what’s needed is more resourcing, surge funding and a better long-term strategy to get the mowing done.

Canberra Liberals MLA Jeremy Hanson said Canberrans are understandably frustrated with a government that’s “lost touch with the ordinary Canberran” and simply “got its priorities wrong”.

Is there a local mowing hero keeping on top of the grass in your neighbourhood? Contact us with your stories and photos.

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153 Responses to Is it time we took mowing into our own hands?
Dallas Stow Dallas Stow 1:48 pm 10 Dec 21

Why this obsession with using a fossil – fueled machine to chop down insect and animal habitat?

John Giacon John Giacon 6:27 am 10 Dec 21

Hi again. Much the same comment as last time. Mowing is needed in some places. However much of the mowing done in the ACT is not needed. The Emu Ck landcare area now has .5 hectare that was mown 2 years ago, but is not mown now. Locals walking past often comment on how this is enhancing wildlife, on the attractiveness of the native grasses and other plants. There are many treed areas which do not need mowing – rather let native grasses and other plants regenerate. There are many other areas little frequented by people which could be planted with trees and shrubs, so that in a few years there would be no need for mowing. Many median strips, for example. The money saved could be used to pay for better maintenance of the eroding tracks in bush areas or for weed removal.

Erin Nugent Erin Nugent 6:22 am 10 Dec 21

Yep. Did it to our local park. Took a while but was concerned about snakes for the children and dogs that play there. Also we picnic there too.

I did it out of community spirit and not because of any ill feelings towards the mowing crew.

I understand this is a particularly tricky season with rain and I understand the large machinery cannot go onto the grounds because a) they will destroy the ground b) wet grass doesn’t cut clean) c) it clogs up their mowers.

I would encourage anyone who feels like they can get out with push mowers.

Instead of complaining about it take pride in your community and do something about it.

    Stewart Ross Stewart Ross 8:46 pm 13 Dec 21

    Erin Nugent Totally agree we have been mowing our nature strip etc for years, picking up litter and generally keeping our area tidy, it’s where you live after all!

    Bob RD Bob RD 1:10 am 14 Dec 21

    Stewart Ross Is that the spot across the street from your house that has the kangaroos?

Sue Sutton Sue Sutton 6:05 pm 09 Dec 21

My Mum has wonderful neighbours who have been helping keep her lawn in check. Thank you Ota and family xx

    Ota Save Ota Save 6:47 pm 09 Dec 21

    Sue Sutton No worries Sue. Happy to help ❤️

Bill Gemmell Bill Gemmell 2:50 pm 09 Dec 21

I am not sure why we must have repetitive broadacre mowing and slashing of exotic weeds. After all, the place will never look like an English garden lawn given our usual semi-arid climate. Would it not be better to take a step back and try to identify the problem the joint is seeking to solve? My suggestion would be to mulch most of it and encourage naturally occurring native species to become dominant.

    Barbara Eglitis Barbara Eglitis 5:14 pm 09 Dec 21

    Naturally occurring weeds, like the ones growing down the middle of Northbourne Avenue which looks disgusting???

    Bill Gemmell Bill Gemmell 5:20 pm 09 Dec 21

    Barbara Eglitis I was wondering how long it would take. Seriously, I had the Fowles St Park project in Weston in mind. Suggest you have a look

Linda Stapleton Linda Stapleton 2:12 pm 09 Dec 21

Oh dear, the Liberals need to harken back to the days of Katy Carnell and how disasterous the so called care of the public lands, at the time was... and excessive rain was not the problem, just ignorance of the Government and lack of workers was.

Bryan Doherty Bryan Doherty 12:17 pm 09 Dec 21

Neighbours have been mowing areas before all the rain... any utilities that were sold off/ contracted out will have problems... profit first...

Steven Lloyd Steven Lloyd 11:57 am 09 Dec 21

They just can’t keep up anymore I fully understand the issue there having

Garvin Francis Garvin Francis 10:13 am 09 Dec 21

Its all very reactionary. The rainfall has been way higher than anticipated and as such the growth is expediential. There is no harm in looking after areas adjacent to your house but lets cut the boys some slack its been tough going.

Joanne Vassallo Joanne Vassallo 9:54 am 09 Dec 21

They are doing their best in these weather conditions

Brenda Nikica Jonjic Brenda Nikica Jonjic 9:06 am 09 Dec 21

So nothing has changed since we left.

Eddie Majcic Eddie Majcic 8:56 am 09 Dec 21

Yeah. And send invoice to ACT Government

David Rudland David Rudland 8:55 am 09 Dec 21

Considered it for sure

Stephen Mee Stephen Mee 8:25 am 09 Dec 21

Those new work from home options seem to be working out well. Saves on maintenance and transport costs.

Po Oh Baer Po Oh Baer 7:33 am 09 Dec 21

This has been happening for years and years. Complaints fall on deaf ears. Eg, per a Hansard extract from a February 2013 meeting of the ACT Legislative Assembly, Julia Jones asks Rattenbury: “Municipal services—Yate Gardens

[MRS JONES]: My question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, on behalf of constituents of Yate Gardens in Rivett. Off Yate Gardens, there is a long pathway that passes through several blocks and streets to Hindmarsh Drive. Residents are seriously concerned about the lack of maintenance, and in particular mowing, despite repeated requests, of the verges on the side of this path. It has become so bad that residents have now taken to mowing the verges themselves. Minister, can you tell residents why this path is so often neglected and what you can do immediately to assist them?” And also: “[MR DOSZPOT]: Minister, why does it seem to take a media report or a question from us before anything actually gets done on these basic but important city services?”

Same old, same old. And no wonder noxious weeds are endemic here.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:10 am 09 Dec 21

“It’s been raining more than ever” someone said.

No it hasn’t.

And the grass is not growing at “unprecedented” rates, either.

Genevieve Watson Genevieve Watson 6:38 am 09 Dec 21

Dad always mowed the public land space opposite our house growing up - he even planted two trees on it. He just wanted it to look nice and be safe.

Paul Compton Paul Compton 5:59 am 09 Dec 21

Couldn’t agree more it’s dangerous

Kaitlin Hargreaves Kaitlin Hargreaves 11:54 pm 08 Dec 21

Jeremy Black I was almost ready to chop at this very corner, even if it meant using manicure scissors 🤣

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 11:26 pm 08 Dec 21

Every Spring the grass-growing season catches our ACT government by surprise.

    JC JC 8:08 am 09 Dec 21

    Actually it doesn’t.

    Like many things (road maintenance for example) peoples expectations are beyond what if practicable to deliver effectively.

    And there is far more awareness of this kind of issue due to forums like this where every man and his dog can and does voice a view.

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