For Glende, the lawn is his canvas
Rosemount resident Mark Glende doesn’t blame his neighbors for thinking he’s a little bit crazy. After all, it’s not every day you see a grown man in a full cat costume mowing designs into his backyard.
For 16 years now, Glende has been perfecting the art of lawn striping, something he considers a long-lost art. For him, it’s a chance to decompress and show off his artistic side.
This summer Glende’s lawn depicts an American flag, but past designs have included a starburst, criss-cross striping, and straight and diagonal stripes. He hopes to tackle a labyrinth someday and dreams of one day being able to see his designs from overhead.
“My designs are a lot like my kids,” Glende said. “I don’t have a favorite. I love them all.”
Glende’s foray into lawn striping began back in 2000, when he and his wife bought a house on nearly an acre and a half of land. He thought it might be fun to mow a baseball diamond into the enormous yard for his boys one summer, and it was such a hit with the neighborhood kids that he turned it into a football field in the fall.
From there, it just kind of took off. Watching baseball on TV, he would find himself inspired by the professional baseball diamonds he saw.
“I would see all the different designs and I thought, ‘I’ll betcha I could do that,’” he said.
So he fashioned his own lawn striping kit and began to experiment.
“I tried it and it was kind of easy. I thought, ‘Wow, I kinda like this!’” Glende said. “I liked the idea of having a blank canvas. The artistic side of me started to come out.”
Glende started out simple with basic stripe patterns, but he is always looking to get more creative.
“This is Minnesota, so I’ve got a lot of time to think about my designs during the winter,” Glende said. “I’m open to anything. I like a challenge.”
As soon as the grass is long enough to mow, Glende gets to work. The trick to lawn striping, he said, is keeping the grass long enough that when the roller bends it in a certain direction, you can see the difference in color. Laying the grass away from you makes it appear lighter, while bending it toward you makes it appear darker, he said. Three inches long seems to be ideal.
“There is no special trick or paint or fertilizer,” Glende said. “A simple roller on my mower gets me the design I want.”
Glende said he mows his lawn two or three times a week, covering about eight miles of ground each time. It typically takes him about two and a half hours since he traded up his standard, residential 21-inch mower for one with a 33-inch cutting deck. Do not expect to find him on a riding lawn mower though.
“I prefer a walk-behind rather than a riding mower, because what’s the fun of that?” Glende said. “I know people that absolutely hate mowing. It’s a necessary evil. It’s like laundry to them. And for me, it’s just a joy to go out and mow it.”
Glende said his grass requires no special treatment. He fertilizes four times a year with whatever product he can find on sale at the hardware store, and he waters it only when necessary.
“I leave that up to Mother Nature,” he said. “I don’t baby it at all.”
He has even given free reign to the moles, voles and gophers who occasionally sneak in from the woods behind his yard.
“I figure they have as much right to be here as I do,” Glende said.
Glende said his job as an elementary school custodian has lended itself well to his hobby.
“I get off work at 2:30 p.m. That leaves me all afternoon to get into trouble, so rather than do that, I mow my yard,” he said.
When his kids were younger, he would don various costumes while mowing to make them smile.
“The neighbors just kind of shake their heads, but my kids enjoyed that sort of thing,” he said.
He no longer dresses up to mow, and his yard is now more secluded by growth than it used to be, but Glende said there was a time he would catch passersby stopping to photograph his yard from the street.
Although he thinks lawn striping makes a great hobby, Glende said would never consider it as a career. He has befriended the head groundskeeper at Target Field and knows how much work it is.
“It’s just a love of mine, a hobby of mine that I really enjoy,” he said. “I’m going to be heartbroken when the time comes I can’t mow my yard anymore.”