The mowing team who are a cut above

24 September 2020

For three people who know a heck of a lot about mowing lawns, they don’t spend much time doing their own.

Gus, Ray and Matt know a lot about lawns.

Gus, Ray and Matt know a lot about lawns.

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“I haven’t mown my lawn in about 15 years,” laughs Gus Anderson, new Mowing Team Manager at Wellington City Council.

“It’s the last thing I want to do when I get home from work. If I had the chance I’d probably go for artificial.”

As for outgoing manager, Matt Beres, he’s let his lawn become a meadow, and then there’s mowing team member Ray: “I live in an apartment”, he says with a grin.

The 11-person Council mowing team are flat out across the city, taming the spring growth and making sure our city’s lawns are tidy, healthy, and in tip-top condition for the approaching summer.

And it’s a massive job.

The team looks after a whopping 813 sites, from Mākara to Tawa to Seatoun, and everywhere in between.

At this time of the year the team do longer hours, and they even hire a couple of extra workers form an agency to help out.

Over the last five years as team manager Matt has reorganised the mowing team to spend more time and resources on the city’s high-profile lawns.

Lawns are graded from one through to five – grade one being the most significant or highest profile lawns, such as Pukeahu National War Memorial (which gets cut 26 times a year).

Grade two lawns include Midland and Glover Parks; grade three like our play spaces; grade four some road reserves; and grade five like some Wellington Water sites (which are cut quarterly).

Different crews look after different grades and sites, with operator Ray looking after some of the most significant.

Ray works as a one-man crew, operating a ride-on, a push mower, and a line trimmer to maintain his sites.

“He has a huge amount of expertise, and he’s really looking after the city,” says Matt. “Our sites are looking immaculate.”

New Mowing Team Manager Gus has come to the team from the Council’s Sports Fields unit.

After doing his apprenticeship at Jade Stadium, he has spent the last 3 ½ years at Council.

“Gus is bringing that experience to the table for looking after our high-profile lawns,” says Matt. “He’s also going to bring that facility-wide perspective.”

After five years leading the team, Matt is off to become Play Spaces Specialist.

He says climate change is making it a lot harder to plan how they organise their work

“The seasons are changing – we can have mild winters and sometimes in summer we don’t get that burn-off anymore.

“It’s a lot more unpredictable.”