All that mowing!

There are 3,500 acres of Open Space managed by Columbia Association (CA). Much of that land needs to be mowed. They mow along each side of the 93.5 miles of CA pathways, around each of the 167 tot lots, around the 40 facilities, and of course, around many areas of open space that gets more foot traffic.

I’m a homeowner with a lawn to take care of. I hate mowing the lawn — like, really hate it. I’m trying to imagine mowing miles of land, every day of every week in spring and summer months. The thought of it is overwhelming, especially when the weather messes things up and throws everything off.

I asked Sean Harbaugh, assistant division director of open space management, about the mowing schedule. Just how do they keep up with it and prioritize?

Well, not all areas are given the same priorities, and that makes sense.  There is a bi-weekly mowing schedule and a weekly mowing schedule, which can be thrown off a day or two by weather. The 93 miles along the pathways get mowed once every two weeks. Just going along each pathway on both sides is nearly 200 miles! Much of it can be mowed with the big machines, but some of the narrow areas need to be done by smaller lawn mowers. The areas that get more use and foot traffic, like around the lakefront and the 40 facilities, get mowed once a week.

But you know what? They mow more than just CA property! Sean informed me that CA mows several grassy medians in Columbia belonging to Howard County and the state. This was done in response to the public wanting more frequent care of the medians in the area. So the county, the state and CA worked together to come up with a plan to make residents happier. In the end, CA took over some non-CA property areas to get the grass mowed more frequently.
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Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Over the past year she has worked on losing weight, getting fit and doing volunteer work; she is now looking forward to working for CA after staying home with her family for the last several years. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in educational administration. Click here to read more of Melissa’s Getting to Know CA series.

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