• Last modified 1505 days ago (June 4, 2015)


Mowing either side of the fence

Staff writer

The grass may be greener elsewhere, but it always needs to be cut wherever you are.

“Mowing just bores me to death,” said John Wheeler who commutes from Marion to Newton as a salesman. “I find anything else to do.”

When finally he gets around to it, his mind wanders.

“I’d rather be doing something more productive that has a better payoff,” he said.

So he has hired entrepreneur Jack Lanning, 9, to mow his yard for him.

Jack named his business after the way he likes his hair: “Clean Cut Lawns.” With the help of his mom, Traci, he created a business card that reads, “You grow it, I’ll mow it!”

“I started mowing for my parents two years ago,” Jack said. “I liked watching my dad mow our yard. The mower is fun to drive.”

His dad, Gene, was surprised by Jack’s skill level and desire to work.

“I’m picky,” Gene said. “I won’t even let Traci mow our lawn. My other two boys hold down the couch, but Jack likes to work.”

Jack’s eagerness spirited him away to his grandparents, Jim and Kaye Darrow. Kaye said Jack often wants to mow even when grass is wet from rain. He eventually roped Jim into helping with his business.

“I’ll supervise him, weed-eat, and provide transport,” Jim said. “He’s not afraid of hard work. He gets right in there.”

Jack plans to save money and buy his own “joystick mower, the kind with a joystick on either side.”

Kevin Fruechting, vice president at Tampa State Bank, and his son, Brian, used to tag-team 11 yards in the county.

“We started mowing when Brian was in high school as a way for him to earn money for baseball expenses,” Fruechting said. “He played on tournament teams and was responsible for paying for certain things.”

After Brian left for college, Fruechting continued to mow some lawns but reduced the number.

“I finally ‘retired’ from mowing this year,” he said. “I still mow my dad’s yard and an aunt’s yard, free of charge.”

Scott Amos spends a lot of time outdoors during the work week as a biology technician at Marion Reservoir, but on the weekend, he’d rather be relaxing indoors or on his back porch with his family.

“I’ll be jumping for joy when the summer heat comes and cooks the grass,” Amos said. “I won’t have to sacrifice so much time to keep up with it.”

His lawn is about three-quarters of an acre at his home on the north edge of town.

“When we first moved here, I push-mowed it all,” Amos said. “It pretty much wore out the mower. A cloud of blue smoke hung around me. I think the mower was ready to throw a rod.”

Amos salvaged a rider from a junkyard last year. He used “mechanical known-how from a lifetime of tinkering” to restore it. The mower made his chore more manageable, he said, but was not ideal.

“It was embarrassingly loud,” Amos said. “I bought a new one this year.”

Rural Florence resident Phoebe Janzen maintains three acres at her home. She has a different opinion of the task.

“I love to mow. I like how it looks afterward,” Janzen said. “With all the rain this year, the grass is a beautiful lush green.”

She push-mows around objects in her lawn and uses a rider on the rest. Lately, she’s mowed every week. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.

“I didn’t like it so much when the dust and dirt would blow all around, and the grasshoppers flew all over the place,” she said. “Now mosquitoes fly everywhere, and finding a dry enough day to mow is almost impossible.”

Last modified June 4, 2015