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The rip of a starter cord, the rev of an engine, the whirring of a blade. For many across the suburbs of Canberra, the starting up of the humble lawnmower is the unmistakable sound of a Saturday morning. But while you’ll find Jorge Gapella out in his front yard on a weekend tending to his front yard and making his lawn immaculate, the sounds coming from his garden may be a bit more muted. For almost 40 years, the Kaleen resident has opted to use a manual mower to trim the lawn instead of the traditional two- or four-stroke Victa, preferring the gentle sounds of the rolling blades pushed by hand rather than those powered by a petrol engine. And the 73-year-old wouldn’t have it any other way. “The enjoyment of the garden shouldn’t be surrounded by noise and pollution,” Mr Gapella said. “The whole garden is a passion. “I’ve never had a motorised mower, I’ve always disliked the noise. That noise is just everywhere.” While the lack of noise is a large factor, Mr Gapella said he tries to use as many manual tools to get the job done to help the environment. With his work clothes and bucket hat on, Mr Gapella can often be found out in his front yard on a weekend morning, manual tools in hand. The love of manual tools to get the job done extends not just to the mower, but to a pair of shears instead of a whipper snipper, and a humble broom instead of a leaf blower. And while it may take longer to get the job done, Mr Gapella said there was a large sense of satisfaction in a job well done and a well-maintained garden. “It is more intense and there is more work, but it is enjoyable work, [and] I’m retired so I have the time,” he said. “It takes roughly one-third longer, I must admit, but those extra minutes you have been exercising and saving the environment.” While Mr Gapella may be an outlier in the way he chooses to tend his lawn, he’s not the only one to have spent more time out in his front garden with the lawnmower in recent months after an improvement in weather. After years of drought-like conditions, above-average rainfall has led to not only the overflowing of Canberra’s dams, but to a transformation on city streets. Where there were once dry and dusty pieces of turf that only needed a trim every month or so, there are now lush oases that require a mow every week. Couple that with more people spending more time around the garden due to the flow-on effects of coronavirus lockdowns, and you have a lot more interest in making sure the pristine green grass stays that way. The interest in lawn care has been so large in recent months that Canberra lawnmower stores have reported spikes not only in the number of people buying new lawnmowers, but getting their old ones repaired after years of inaction. Gary Hannaford, the owner of Canberra Mower Service, said it’s been one of the busiest times he has seen in his 40 years running the store. “We’re booked out for repairs for the next four weeks,” he said. “Lots more people are out doing their lawns because they’re at home because they haven’t been able to travel.” Sales at Mr Hannaford’s Belconnen store have been some of the busiest in more than 10 years, with more people wanting to tend to their lawns once again. “For the last five to 10 years, people haven’t had to mow their lawns much, but now the rain has turned that around,” he said. “A lot of people in recent years went off away from grass and went to things like bark or mulch, but now grass is coming back because the dams are full and there’s more water.” A similar situation has been seen at Canberra Mower Supplies in Mitchell, where owner Zoe Walker said they had been unable to keep up with demand in recent months. “It just seems like everyone is out in their gardens now,” she said. ” The drought in recent years has been crippling for the business, so this has been a breath of fresh air.” Sales of new lawnmowers have been consistent since the start of the year and the early stages of lockdown, according to Ms Walker. She said there had also been large numbers of people wanting their old models repaired so they’re ready to be used on a more regular basis. While the wetter weather has led to better conditions for grass growing and a boom for lawnmower stores, it’s the opposite situation for grass suppliers. Manager of lawn supply business Canturf said sales of its grass increase when there are drier conditions. “When it’s dry and dusty, that’s when people think about colour and greenery to get rid of the dust,” he said. “People still turn to us when it’s greener, but this year has been no different to last year.” However, for Richard McMahon, the owner of McMahon’s Lawn, Turf and Maintenance, the past six months have been some of the busiest he has experienced. In just the past fortnight, Mr McMahon’s business has laid more than 3500 metres of turf, and it’s only going to get busier in the lead up to Christmas. “This time of year, we’re normally contracted out to do Floriade, but as far as backyards are concerned, it’s out of control,” he said. “People are now realising now is the time to take care of their lawn. The recent weather has made it a lot easier to manage grasses.” Canberra horticulturalist Jackie Warburton said the recent conditions have led to some of the best growing conditions in more than 10 years. “People just love the look of a green lawn and people take such pride in it,” she said. “It all comes down to Canberra soil, which has a lot of clay and it holds a lot of rain and moisture.” The prominent horticulturalist said buffalo or couch grass was best for people looking to lay new turf. At Jorge Gapella’s Kaleen garden, the slow approach to care for his lawn and garden is the ideal one. “You can run over the grass with the manual mower quickly, but the lower speed is more efficient,” he said. After almost four decades of choosing to maintain his lawn using manual tools, he said the recent rain and greener conditions have been a blessing. Even better, now that there’s even more grass to take care of on a weekend. “It’s nicer when it’s a bit longer,” he said. “Nature is all-important.”

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The rip of a starter cord, the rev of an engine, the whirring of a blade.

For many across the suburbs of Canberra, the starting up of the humble lawnmower is the unmistakable sound of a Saturday morning.

But while you’ll find Jorge Gapella out in his front yard on a weekend tending to his front yard and making his lawn immaculate, the sounds coming from his garden may be a bit more muted.

For almost 40 years, the Kaleen resident has opted to use a manual mower to trim the lawn instead of the traditional two- or four-stroke Victa, preferring the gentle sounds of the rolling blades pushed by hand rather than those powered by a petrol engine.

And the 73-year-old wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The enjoyment of the garden shouldn’t be surrounded by noise and pollution,” Mr Gapella said. “The whole garden is a passion.

“I’ve never had a motorised mower, I’ve always disliked the noise. That noise is just everywhere.”

While the lack of noise is a large factor, Mr Gapella said he tries to use as many manual tools to get the job done to help the environment.

With his work clothes and bucket hat on, Mr Gapella can often be found out in his front yard on a weekend morning, manual tools in hand.

The love of manual tools to get the job done extends not just to the mower, but to a pair of shears instead of a whipper snipper, and a humble broom instead of a leaf blower.

Jorge Gapella has been using manual lawnmowers for almost four decades. Picture: Matt Loxton

Jorge Gapella has been using manual lawnmowers for almost four decades. Picture: Matt Loxton

And while it may take longer to get the job done, Mr Gapella said there was a large sense of satisfaction in a job well done and a well-maintained garden.

“It is more intense and there is more work, but it is enjoyable work, [and] I’m retired so I have the time,” he said.

“It takes roughly one-third longer, I must admit, but those extra minutes you have been exercising and saving the environment.”

While Mr Gapella may be an outlier in the way he chooses to tend his lawn, he’s not the only one to have spent more time out in his front garden with the lawnmower in recent months after an improvement in weather.

After years of drought-like conditions, above-average rainfall has led to not only the overflowing of Canberra’s dams, but to a transformation on city streets.

Where there were once dry and dusty pieces of turf that only needed a trim every month or so, there are now lush oases that require a mow every week.

Couple that with more people spending more time around the garden due to the flow-on effects of coronavirus lockdowns, and you have a lot more interest in making sure the pristine green grass stays that way.

‘Rain has turned it around’

Store Owner, Gary Hannaford at Canberra Mower Service, where business is through the roof. Picture: Matt Loxton

Store Owner, Gary Hannaford at Canberra Mower Service, where business is through the roof. Picture: Matt Loxton

The interest in lawn care has been so large in recent months that Canberra lawnmower stores have reported spikes not only in the number of people buying new lawnmowers, but getting their old ones repaired after years of inaction.

Gary Hannaford, the owner of Canberra Mower Service, said it’s been one of the busiest times he has seen in his 40 years running the store.

“We’re booked out for repairs for the next four weeks,” he said.

“Lots more people are out doing their lawns because they’re at home because they haven’t been able to travel.”

Sales at Mr Hannaford’s Belconnen store have been some of the busiest in more than 10 years, with more people wanting to tend to their lawns once again.

“For the last five to 10 years, people haven’t had to mow their lawns much, but now the rain has turned that around,” he said.

“A lot of people in recent years went off away from grass and went to things like bark or mulch, but now grass is coming back because the dams are full and there’s more water.”

A similar situation has been seen at Canberra Mower Supplies in Mitchell, where owner Zoe Walker said they had been unable to keep up with demand in recent months.

“It just seems like everyone is out in their gardens now,” she said. “

The drought in recent years has been crippling for the business, so this has been a breath of fresh air.”

Sales of new lawnmowers have been consistent since the start of the year and the early stages of lockdown, according to Ms Walker.

She said there had also been large numbers of people wanting their old models repaired so they’re ready to be used on a more regular basis.

‘People take such pride in it’

While the wetter weather has led to better conditions for grass growing and a boom for lawnmower stores, it’s the opposite situation for grass suppliers.

Manager of lawn supply business Canturf said sales of its grass increase when there are drier conditions.

“When it’s dry and dusty, that’s when people think about colour and greenery to get rid of the dust,” he said.

“People still turn to us when it’s greener, but this year has been no different to last year.”

However, for Richard McMahon, the owner of McMahon’s Lawn, Turf and Maintenance, the past six months have been some of the busiest he has experienced.

In just the past fortnight, Mr McMahon’s business has laid more than 3500 metres of turf, and it’s only going to get busier in the lead up to Christmas.

“This time of year, we’re normally contracted out to do Floriade, but as far as backyards are concerned, it’s out of control,” he said.

“People are now realising now is the time to take care of their lawn. The recent weather has made it a lot easier to manage grasses.”

Canberra horticulturalist Jackie Warburton said the recent conditions have led to some of the best growing conditions in more than 10 years.

“People just love the look of a green lawn and people take such pride in it,” she said.

“It all comes down to Canberra soil, which has a lot of clay and it holds a lot of rain and moisture.”

The prominent horticulturalist said buffalo or couch grass was best for people looking to lay new turf.

Jorge Gapella says he prefers to use manual tools to care for his garden and be environmentally friendly. Picture: Matt Loxton

Jorge Gapella says he prefers to use manual tools to care for his garden and be environmentally friendly. Picture: Matt Loxton

At Jorge Gapella’s Kaleen garden, the slow approach to care for his lawn and garden is the ideal one.

“You can run over the grass with the manual mower quickly, but the lower speed is more efficient,” he said.

After almost four decades of choosing to maintain his lawn using manual tools, he said the recent rain and greener conditions have been a blessing.

Even better, now that there’s even more grass to take care of on a weekend.

“It’s nicer when it’s a bit longer,” he said.

“Nature is all-important.”