“Lawnmower seems excessive. Weed-wacker? Scissors?”

by Prince Of Petworth May 26, 2016 at 1:55 pm 41 Comments


“Need recommendations on how to cut grass in tiny rowhouse “yard.” Lawnmower seems excessive. Weed-wacker? Scissors?”

How ’bout a machete?

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  • I Dont Get It

    Invest in a couple of flats of groundcovers and you’ll be good; grass is not needed.

    • textdoc

      But until/unless the OP shifts to a mulch/shrub arrangement, a weed whacker/string trimmer/edge trimmer should be sufficient.
      And don’t forget to mow the grass/weeds in your treebox area! (If you have one.)

    • mtpresident

      Yup, this is what we did. But in the interim, we used a weed-whacker.

  • PetworthMom

    We use a weed whacker, especially because our front yard is a hill.

    Our plan is to actually rip out most of the grass and put a groundcover/small plants in there. But we haven’t gotten to it yet.

  • Laura

    We just dealt with this ourselves, having bought our first house. We started with a battery powered weedwacker, which works fine, generally. Decided to also purchase one of those little manual push mowers with the revolving blades. Those are both more than enough, but we probably could have made it with just the weedwacker.

    • soozles

      This is what I do, but I have plans to dig up the remain 5×7 (?) foot grassy area and put in mulch, flowers and hosta. Lot’s of hosta, since I seem to be overrun with it.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Same here. Battery-powered weed-wacker and push-mower combo. If I had to pick only one I’d go with the weed wacker for my particular yard, because I have a lot of edges to do and the back yard is uneven enough that it is pretty difficult to do with the mower.

  • Anony

    Use a push mower, super easy and 100% renewable resource

  • anonymous

    I have manual push mowers with the revolving blades. Its relatively cheap <$50, but keep in mind, you do have to spend time to sharpen the blades in between mowings.

    • mrm

      I haven’t sharpened the blades on my reel mower in 2 years and it cuts perfectly. You must have a lot of time on your hands if you sharpen between mowings.

      • Anon

        I used to have one of those and it didn’t cut shit, even brand new.

      • katinka


    • Anonamom

      I have a push mower and have not had to sharpen the blades in two years. However, it will not cut super tall or thick grass.

  • Dan

    Make it someone else’s problem. Every block has a guy who mows lawns. Find that guy. He’ll do it faster and better than you will because experience.

    • LedroitTigah

      I got a weedwacker, and also had my neighborhood guy come over and mulch around the shrubs. Clean as a whistle after what looked like years of weed overgrowth.

    • wdc

      I love that guy. $15 every other week or so, neat and tidy.

    • neighbor

      +1 This is part of how the urban covenant operates. I actually think this is a big point of tension on my block (older neighbors don’t like it that new neighbors buy push mowers rather than just paying the mower guy 20$ a month or whatever).

    • I couldn’t get the neighborhood guy to ever respond to my many, many calls. So I hired Four Feet to the Yard and it’s the best thirty bucks a week I’ve ever spent to just not have to think about it.

  • Erin

    Agreed with previous comments: we currently use an electric weed wacker, and it’s great! I’ve seen several people in our neighborhood using the old school manual push mower. They both work for small spaces. Definitely you shouldn’t need an actual mower.

  • Anonymous

    I use an electric weed-wacker.

  • Truxton Thomas

    We have a pretty small plot of grass. I use a small push reel lawnmower and a battery-powered weed wacker for edges. I found using just the weed wacker was too hard on the grass, leaving brown, dead tips. Using scissors gets old fast—believe me—and isn’t very effective.

  • ANC

    You could go in on an electric mower with a couple of neighbors. Our neighbor bought one years ago for his tiny yard; our house is on the corner so our yard is much bigger. He lets us keep it at our house to use at our convenience provided we do his yard when we do ours and that of the elderly neighbor between us. It works great, if you have those kinds of neighbors.

  • Brett M

    I would get a good weed wacker. You can get a highly rated Black and Decker from Home Depot for less than $25.

  • navyard

    For those recommending groundcovers, can you be more specific? I face east so I get morning sun, which is now somewhat dappled in the shade of the trees.

    My treebox area has utility grates/vents in it and the cement surrounding those is impossible to plant anything in. Any thoughts about a creeping variety there to cover some of the areas around the grates?

    • wdc

      Vinca is nice; sometimes called periwinkle. It’s very common– small shiny dark green leaves with dime-sized pale purple flowers in spring and early summer, and often again in late summer.

    • JoDa

      Phlox is pretty common in DC. It’s also dirt cheap and will creep (make sure you get the creeping variety). A nice variety of colors so you can pick what you like and the flowers last a pretty long time.

  • General Grant Circle


  • KenyonDweller

    I weed whacked my row house lawn for years and it worked fine. I started out with a push mower, but because I had nowhere inside to store it, it rusted and became worthless. That’s when I started weed whacking.

    • General Grant Circle

      Under back or front porch didnt work?

      • textdoc

        Not all D.C. houses have porches, and some have porches with only a crawl-space-type area underneath — usually covered by wooden lattices or something on the outside.

  • Anonymous

    I have a semi-detached house, but have replaced my front lawn with ground cover (mostly periwinkle, since there is a large tree in the yard) with the rest of the yard shrubs, hostas and other perennials.) So the area that I have to mow is the treebox area and a small lawn in the back yard. Initially, I used a reel mower (had it sharpened at a lawnmower store in Bethesda, and later using a kit from Hechingers), but it really didn’t do a good job, and the edges, which are nearly half the area, had to be done by hand. It also was a drag carrying from the back yard, to the front and down the stairs to to treebox area. So what I recommend is a battery-powered string trimmer, the kind where the battery pack is removable. (Before getting one with a battery pack, I used one with a cord, which has its obvious disadvantages.) I have a Black & Decker, and did have to replace the battery pack after a while when it couldn’t hold a charge. It does take some practice holding it evenly so as not to get low or burned out spots, and never looks quite as good as a yard done with a mower, but over the course of the season, I do get better at it. With a small yard, you should be able to get everything done without needing to recharge the battery pack, but when I bought the string trimmer, it did come with two battery packs.

  • TylerKT

    We bought a weed whacker for our 10 X 15 patch of grass. We also picked up an attachment that turns it into a lawnmower (basically keeps the whacker level so that it looks even).

    We weren’t impressed with the results (probably mostly user error), and figure its easier to pay the neighborhood lawn guy (it is definitely a thing), $15 to get it done.

    Looks way better, less hassle, better lawn.

  • anon
    • Kate

      +1 – I have the battery version of this and it’s fantastic.

      • Jay

        +1 I got this too. It’s like you’re vacuuming your lawn. The edger is great too.

  • Weedwhacker

    I’ve kept the grass in my yard for my dog. I’ve cut it with a $30 plug-in electric weed whacker for the last 5+ years. If you let it grow too much it can be a bit of a workout, but otherwise it works great.

  • Green Monster

    Probably overkill for the OP’s yard, but I have a small electric mower made by a guy that lives in Columbia Heights (or therabouts in NW). It’s called the Razarsharp minimower. They sell it at some of the ACE hardwares. Kind of pricey, but it’s a local guy, and I’d rather spend in the district. It’s light, but strong and perfect for my corner lot. Had it for a year and I love it. It can struggle in wet grass, but no other issues. There’s a youtube video; if you google minimower, you’ll see it.

  • ET

    I just use a weed Wacker. I tried one of the push mowers but if the grass gets too long those don’t work.

  • DCitizen

    Hey, this is America! You need a Toro mega-horsepower riding mower with padded seat, cup holder and wi fi.

  • Kate

    I have this awesome combo weed wacker, edger, and “lawn mower”- it wouldn’t work for anything too large, but it’s perfect for my tiny yard: http://www.homedepot.com/p/BLACK-DECKER-12-in-20-Volt-Max-Lithium-Ion-Electric-Cordless-3-in-1-Trimmer-and-Edger-and-Mower-MTC220/204989204?MERCH=REC-_-PIPHorizontal1_rr-_-204989193-_-204989204-_-N

  • Noshame

    We use a push mower for our small lawn and scissors for the edges.


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