Lawn Free: Whipper Snippers for Beginners

Finally.  After decades of fitful perseverance and multiple failed attempts, I am happy to confirm that I have now, officially, completed my evolutionary journey.  Whereas a short time ago I was still struggling to grow a pair of metaphorical back legs, I am now up and running.  I am whole.  I am complete.  I am evolved.  More to the point, I am now the owner of a whipper snipper.

 This achievement requires context.  To fully appreciate the Himalayan scale of this accomplishment, you need to know that my family have previously forbidden me from owning a whipper snipper (and, for that matter, a robot vacuum and a chainsaw – honestly, you threaten to juggle a chainsaw once and, suddenly, you’re banned for life).  This is both an outrage because it impinges on my absolute right to own the whipper snipper of my choice; as well as being best for all concerned for health and safety reasons.  It’s not as though I don’t have form.

I blame my father.  Not just on this particular issue, but generally.  But amongst the menagerie of tools that are stuffed inside his shed, there’s not a whipper snipper to be seen.  In that sense, he was both whipperless and snipperless.  Not that we allowed the grass to do as it pleased.  Instead, it was kept under control by the type of ride-on lawnmower that Mad Max would be proud to call his own.  The yard was enormous – it took several days of mowing around the clock to get the job done, by which point the idea of moving on to the whipper snipper probably seemed intensely unappealing.  When you’re dealing with that kind of acreage, that level of precision seems kind of redundant.

So whilst I’m a dab-hand with a ride on lawnmower, I’ve never ever laid so much as a finger on a whipper snipper.  Until now.  With a change of circumstances and a new address, it quickly became clear that it was time to launch myself into, if not the abyss, then my local Bunnings.

Let me make this clear – I have a lawn mower.  It’s battery powered and – there’s no easy way to say this – I absolutely love it.  I adore the fact that there’s no need to carry a little petrol can to the service station.  I am relieved that it doesn’t require a spark plug, grease or anything else you might associate with an internal combustion engine.  It’s one of my all-time favourite appliances, right up there with the microwave and the silicon oven gloves I bought at Spotlight (mock me if you will, but until you’ve known the security and comfort of a silicon oven glove, you best keep your thoughts to yourself).

It was because I love my lawnmower so much that I decided to get a matching whipper snipper.  It was good idea.  Or, at least, it was a good idea in theory.

The first thing I learned about whipper snippers is that they’re not called whipper snippers anymore.  Rather, they’re called ‘line-trimmers’.  This is a sad turn of events.  A ‘whipper snipper’ sounds like something that sorts out your garden before giving you a soft serve ice-cream.  Whereas a ‘line trimmer’ sounds like a grooming device you deploy before a trip to the beach.  Or, worse still, like a pair of scissors you take to a line-dancing event. 

In a practical sense, it meant I had to stand around for ages with my phone trying to figure out if I was buying the right thing.  After several hours of research whilst in aisle seventeen, I eventually concluded that the terms ‘whipper snipper’ and ‘line trimmer’ were interchangeable.  What was somewhat less interchangeable, however, was the battery.

I had determined to buy the same brand as my mower.  Not only would the colours match, it’d also be more efficient as I could use the same battery.  Or so I thought.  Having brought my new ‘line trimmer’ home, I unpacked the box and assembled the contents after only thirty-seven hours of continuous labour.  This, for me, constituted a new record.  Then I attempted to connect the battery, before discovering that it was the wrong size.

Batteries, as it turns out, come in different sizes.  As the owner of no fewer than sixty-eight remote controls, I’m acutely aware of this generally, but it never occurred to me these rules applied to lawn care.  It is impossible to describe the level of frustration I felt at that moment.  Had I owned a small tin of petrol I would, doubtless, have splashed the contents over the line trimmer and set it on fire.  Just to teach it a lesson.  Instead, I had to slink back to the hardware store and ask for a battery.  I suspect they felt sorry for me.

In possession of the right-sized battery, I charged it before attaching it to the line trimmer / whipper snipper.  As I pulled the trigger, the thin nylon line began to whir as the engine roared to life.  I was then asked by girlfriend, Katrina, whether I would mind taking it outside.  Being a cooperative person, I reluctantly obliged.

Nothing can describe the pure exhilaration I felt as I wielded the line trimmer like Arthur’s Excalibur, subduing the unruly edges of my front lawn.  I may well add ‘whipper snippering’ to my resume.   Right under ‘fully evolved’.