The lowdown on the mow down
Published on 29 March 2022
The recent spate of warm but extremely wet weather has sent the grass across our municipality into overdrive.
We caught up with Kiama Council’s new Parks & Gardens Coordinator Guy Stearn to get the lowdown on the mow-down.
Who cuts the grass across Kiama LGA?
We have several different crews. The Central Team or ‘town crew’ (Kiama, Kiama Heights and West Kiama), the South Team (Gerringong, Gerroa, Foxground, Rose Valley etc), the North Team (Kiama Downs, Minnamurra, Gainsborough and the bike path along Swamp Road) and a Cemeteries Crew who also maintain Jamberoo, Cedar Grove and Saddleback Mountain.
Sportsfields across the LGA are maintained by one person and his trusty tractor.
In addition, we have four floating team members including two horticulturalists, who attend areas that are too steep for a normal mower, look after prominent public gardens and do tree maintenance and burials.
There’s also the Bush Care Team who maintain biodiversity in key locations such as Jerrara Dam and Spring Creek.
How often is the grass mowed?
The teams start their ‘run’ from one end of their area to the other, and when they finish they simply go around again. This usually takes around six weeks but the recent weather has slowed things down.
Some areas such as Hindmarsh Park are mowed more frequently and we’re currently assessing if other locations need to be visited more or less often.
What equipment is used?
We’ve got nine ride-on mowers, four tractors, a five-tonne tuck and a dozen whipper snippers.
How has the recent weather affected things?
The grass growth rates have been so high this season with the combination of warm temperatures, high rainfall and our inability to access sites due to the saturated nature of the ground.
During the heavy rainfall, our teams were checking parks for access and clearing trees or branches causing safety concerns. They also actioned urgent requests from customer service.
Although the rain has now subsided, some areas with poor drainage are still inaccessible for the mowers. And on soggy ground, wheels can leave wheel ruts that, when dry, create trip hazards.
Also, given the grass is so long, in some cases it needs to be cut several times to disperse the clippings.
You’re fairly new to the job, what are the best bits?
I love this community and appreciate the opportunity to work closely with a lot of community groups that utilise our Parks and Gardens.
From what I’ve seen in the eight weeks since I started, all the outdoor crews work really hard. Particularly in the recent adverse conditions: their boots have been wet but they are always looking for the work they can do.
Images: Mowing at Black Beach (top) and Parks & Gardens Coordinator Guy Stearn