Twice a year, I edge my lawn.
Unlike my father, I am not among the lawn-proud. If the grass is fairly green, not too shaggy and fills most of the space between the walks and the house, I'm good.
I do it only twice a year because it's tedious. Not difficult or even expensive. Just unbelievably boring.
My own system is a less troublesome than Granddad's. He'd go out regularly with his shovel and dig a tidy little trench along the front and back walks and the driveway that stretched from the street to the barn-turned-garage at the back of the lot.
It amounted to about half a block … on both sides.
Occasionally, I still see such old-fashioned edges. People with much more time on their hands than money in their pockets, I'll wager.
Dad didn't have an issue with money when it came to his yard. He of the turf-so-fine-carpeting-should-be-this-lush lawn used a power edger.
It was a mighty orange machine whose whirling blades sliced neat little furrows all along the walks of his corner lot, which also amounted to about half a block … on both sides.
All Dad's machines were mighty. As a matter of fact, his mower and snowblower may very well have been stripped-down Volkswagens. The blower had three forward gears and reverse, the same as his old Ford pickup.
I had the same issue with Dad's power edging that I had with Granddad's trenches: Once you do it, you can never stop.
To leave even so narrow a strip of bare ground as Dad's furrows is to attract every crabgrass, spurge and foxtail seed for miles around. I imagine Granddad must have fought off invading cedar trees and cottonwoods with his spaded trenches.
That said, you may wonder why I edge my lawn at all.
I've puzzled over the question myself and decided it must be the engineer in me that also prompts me to arrange garden tools neatly on my garage walls and to regiment my raised planting beds in neat rectangles.
It just looks better.
So twice a year, I edge my lawn — once in the summer after the spring growth has abated and again in the fall so I'll be able to find the edges of the walks when they're covered with snow.
But I do not use a shovel, and I do not use a power edger.
I have Big Foot.
I bought the gadget about 30 years ago from a mail-order outfit. I recall that it was manufactured in Oregon, but the label that identified the company has long since worn off.
Big Foot is nothing more than a footprint-shaped plank (hence the name) attached by a stirrup to a stout ash handle. A hefty piece of stainless-steel projects down from the middle of the footprint, rather like the centerboard of a sailboat.
To use Big Foot, you position the blade via the handle at the juncture of lawn and concrete and push it firmly into the ground with your foot. Then you lift it, move forward 12 inches and repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
Tedious for sure, but that's all there is to it.
It creates just a separation between grass and walk. No trench. No furrow.
And no weeds.
All it requires is that its operator possess enough girth to force the blade into the ground.
This has not been a problem.
(Send your questions to HouseWorks, P.O. Box 81609, Lincoln, Neb. 68501 or email email@example.com.)