Careening: The Tale of a Runaway Lawnmower

Well you just know it had to happen. Another gardening season and another lawnmower incident. At least this time it didn’t involve flames! And I have to admit I am very thankful to have a nandina! How does a nandina fit in with the story? Let me recount the tale for you as I experienced it.

It was a beautiful spring evening sandwiched in between a week of rain and a forecast of storms to come. It was the only opportunity to mow a lawn that was growing high enough to hide small children and animals. I set out after dinner with the small trim mower along with every neighbor within eyesight for neighborhood mowing day. (That is an unofficial holiday that occurs immediately after multiple days of rain and just before more rain) If you remember last year’s incident involved my little trim mower. The high grass gave me quite a bit of material for mulching around many of our shrubs, trees, and ornamental grasses. The grass was high, very high. I trimmed around everything then went to get the riding mower.

Everything went great. I began thinking of post ideas, new lawnmower designs, and all sorts of other things while listening to my MP3 player. It’s always a quiet introspective time to think about life, gardening, blogging, and whatever else pops in my head. I even remarked once to myself that it has been a while since I had a humorous post to pass along. Then I began speculating about making a post entitled “Nothing Funny Happened Today” but nixed the idea as silly. I went up and down the yard mowing the grass as high as I could. It left grass clumps everywhere but the lawnmower was on the highest setting so what else could I do? I kept going content to mow the lawn as best as I could. Then I started on the slope. We have a large sloping area on the western portion of the yard that is probably the worst area in the yard to mow. You either mow it straight up, or straight down. You just can’t go sideways or else you will risk the “Lawnmower logroll of death!” Alright perhaps that’s over dramatic but thinking this way helps to keep me from doing stupid things … sometimes. As I said I was mowing the slope. I went up and turned then all of a sudden the mower was caught. Apparently I ran over a spot that trapped one rear wheel off the ground which is how the mower is pushed. No rear traction, no forward momentum. “No big deal I thought.” I went through my mental checklist: Turn off the blade, check. Move to Neutral, check. Turn off the mower, check. Get off the mower, check. Evaluate the problem, check.

I began loking for a solution. I started in the back and tried to pull the mower in reverse to no avail. The mower was too caught to move backward and my feet were sinking in the soft clay mud, that just wasn’t working. So I reexamined the mower. I glanced down toward the house. At this point the hillside is higher than the roof line of the garage but I figured I could move the mower just enough to get on it then ride the brake down to the driveway. So I began to nudge it. It didn’t move much so I pushed harder. It moved more so I pushed a little harder and it jumped over the ridge holding it in place! Victory right?

Nope! The mower quickly began gaining momentum. I was holding the steering wheel trying to slow it down but I couldn’t and the mower went careening toward the front of the garage! I ran alongside desparately trying to figure out how to slow this bladed bullet down. The mower whooshed down toward the driveway, but I was still with it. It’s good to know I’m faster than a careening mower, although I never thought to test that before today. Possibly the one smart thing I decided not to do was to get on board.

The mower crossed the driveway and began it’s descent toward our house. I mentally cringed thinking of the damage it would do should it hit the wall, or even a window. Then I had no choice, I stopped and let the mower go. Then I watched as it plowed through the front sidewalk garden crossed over the sidewalk and into the main front garden. Only one thing saved the mower and the house from any damage, my nandina. The bush that I complain about being so common. The shrub that continually spouts new seedlings and runners that I have to pull out. The nandina that saved my siding. My riding mower hit the nandina directly.  This was no glancing blow, this was a full, head on, no punches pulled collision. The most amazing thing was that neither the nandina or the mower took any significant damage. The mower hit the nandina on the lower part of the stems. There are probably 8-10 semi-flexible stems that have grown up over time. It was that flexibilty that saved both the mower and the house from damage since the stems could absorb the impact.  The nandina received a few bark scrapes but nothing that should damage it in the long term. The mower lost a cotter pin that held the mowing deck in place. Fortunately my neighbor who was out mowing was nearby to lend a hand removing the mower from the front garden.

So today I’ve learned an important lesson: nandinas really do have a place in the gardens in front of houses. Never let anyone tell you differently. If they try to convince you that nandinas are too commonplace and can become a pest with their seedlings don’t listen to them. Think of the careening lawnmower and protect your garage with nandinas! You may even want to go get a few more to protect your family home, you just never know when a lawnmower will come careening toward your house. I sure didn’t!


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Pictures! LOL

  2. OMG!! As I was reading I was afraid you were going to say it DID do the logroll of death! We had a neighbor whose riding mower went into the creek, she lost control and jumped off before the splashdown. What a mess.
    I agree– we need pictures!

  3. Unfortunately due to time constraints between the top of the hill and the bottom, action shots are not available!

  4. That will teach you to mow your lawn! Glad you, machine, house and nandina are doing well!

  5. Gail,

    I’ve gotta mow the lawn, we’ll lose the kids if I don’t! I won’t be nearly as stupid next time!

  6. Too funny Dave! I’m glad no plants, animals, people, or homes were harmed in the making of this post. Sounds like a good argument against lawns and for nandinas to me!

  7. Thank you for the post I love your writing!!

  8. I can understand that there are no action shots,but you didn’t run into the house and grab the camera for an ‘after’ shot of the mower and the Nandina?

    I’m disappointed Dave! 😉

  9. Linda,

    Me too! Although I still love my lawn. I’m not a fan of nandinas but ours sure came in handy!

    Thank you Susan!

    Laura, I’m sorry to disappoint! My first thoughts we’re about the damage and not really about the blog. I should be ashamed! 😉 Also it was almost dark so any pictures would have been very poor.

  10. ROFLOL. Well I never. You are so funny. Between blowing your mower up & now this chase to protect. I'm beginning to wonder about you & mowers. lol
    I am glad no one or nothing was harmed in this latest escapade.

Comments are closed.

Close Menu