35 seconds of your time could win you a trip on Lake Champlain

Image of a lawnmower in front of a house with a waterbody in the background and a buffer planted with native vegetation between the yard and the water. The image serves as a link to a 35-second video about grass growth and best practices to help grass health and protect water quality.

Today, with just two more Mo Monday posts in 2020, I am excited to introduce a newly-released 35-second video that shares the key messages of — and reasons for — the #RaiseTheBlade campaign. Click on the image above to watch the video or access it through the Lawn to Lake website. (If you access it through the Lawn to Lake website, choose the “short version” of the two Benefits of Long Grass Growth videos available there.)

We purposefully left one small glitch in the video to see if viewers can spot it. If you find it, email us by October 30, 2020 at seagrant@uvm.edu with the subject line “Mo Monday.” We will randomly select one lucky winner from all email entries received to join a future public trip on Lake Champlain led by Lake Champlain Sea Grant and UVM Extension.

Photo of someone lowering a Secchi disc to assess water clarity off the stern of the R/V Melosira, the University of Vermont's research vessel.

The winner (age 18+) and one guest (minimum age 7) will be invited to come aboard the University of Vermont’s research vessel the Melosira in summer 2021 (pending a COVID-19 vaccine is available and our public trips are able to safely operate). Our public trips give participants an opportunity to learn about the history of the lake and its watershed (the area of land that drains to the lake), and to try their hand as limnologists by studying water quality in the lake.

Mo’s doghouse

Mo in his robot house (doghouse).

One thing I haven’t mentioned in past posts is the doghouse we built for Mo. It’s not something required, but we figured it might help prolong Mo’s life to protect him from the weather. Plus, one of Mo’s features is that he heads to his base station whenever it is raining, as, being electric, he doesn’t like getting wet. (Though, according to the manufacturer, it is technically fine for the mower to be out in the rain in its base station. During thunderstorms they advise to unplug it though.)

To build Mo’s house, we first assessed how tall the doghouse needed to be.

Sizing a board next to Mo the robotic mower to determine the height of the doghouse to be built for it.
Mo's house with a hand holding the  boards to show what it would look like once complete.

We then cut the boards to size, and positioned them into a house with an open side. The house is simply placed over the top of Mo’s base station.

Mo in his doghouse with hands positioning the back board on it.

The roof is positioned at a slight angle to help water to run off of it. This is done by having the walls cut to different heights.

To complete the house, we painted the sides and added some roofing shingles.

Mo's doghouse on a drop cloth and next to a bucket of paint.

Mo’s house has worked out quite well to protect Mo from the elements.

Mo in his finished doghouse, complete with shingled roof.

Are you raising the blade? Please consider sharing your photos of you or someone you know following #RaiseTheBlade guidelines by emailing seagrant@uvm.edu or posting to Instagram or Twitter using the #RaiseTheBlade hashtag and tagging Lake Champlain Sea Grant and the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Plus, don’t forget, there is also still time to enter for a chance to win a mulching mower! Learn more and enter from the Lawn to Lake website.

Win a mulching mower, and more Mo antics

Mo meets an adirondack chair
Yes, this did actually happen.

This Mo Monday, we’d like to mention a very important topic! That is, the Raise the Blade team is running a contest this summer. People over 18 who live in the Lake Champlain basin can enter for a chance to win a mulching mower! The idea is to help one lucky winner implement the recommended Raise the Blade lawn care practices, while getting to see many people’s ongoing actions to Raise The Blade.

You might wonder how a mulching mower could help someone to implement the Raise the Blade best practices. Since a mulching mower cuts lawn clippings into very small pieces and leaves them in place to decompose, they are easily broken down by soil microorganisms and add nutrients right back to the soil. This adds organic matter to the soil, which helps it to hold more water. Soils that can hold more water help limit the amount of stormwater runoff that leaves a yard, and that’s the ultimate goal of the Raise the Blade campaign.

To enter the contest, simply enter your contact information here, and share a photo of you or someone else following Raise the Blade recommended practices, or showing your grass cut to 3″ in height. You can share your photo via email by sending it to seagrant@uvm.edu or via social media by posting it to Twitter and tagging @lakechamp or to Instagram, tagging @lakechamplainbasinprogram and using the hashtag #RaiseTheBlade. The drawing will be held on Labor Day 2020.

Now, about Mo and that Adirondack chair…my husband finished building this and another chair a few weeks ago, and we placed them in the yard in a nice shady spot for some summertime reading and relaxation. We knew Mo would bump into the chairs, but watched him carefully the first time he approached them. I even recorded it, not knowing what might result. Things went perfectly smoothly, which you can see in the video below.

Mo meets the Adirondack chair – the first time.

However, as you can see from the photo at the top, Mo’s second meeting with one of the chairs didn’t go as smoothly. That, or maybe he was trying his hand at being Atlas?

Meet Mo, the robotic mower

Mo, the robotic mower.

This is a blog about Mo, the things he does, and the reasons why those matter. Mo is actually obsolete, despite his blog just beginning. So it goes. Mo is affectionately named after the famous Mo Farah, the British distance runner, in part, due to my hopes and those of my husband about how great of a job he would do mowing our lawn (emulating Sir Farah in his excellence), and in part, due to his name being the right one for a robot that mows the lawn. (Here is an NBC video clip of Mo Farah winning Olympic gold in the 10,000m at the 2012 Olympics if you don’t know him. He’s amazing!)

Mo – the mower–nowhere near as fast as Sir Farah–is a WORX Landroid M WG794. He came about in our lives when we bought a house, owned no lawn mower, and I was (and actually I still am) working on a project to promote homeowners and businesses to cut their lawns following three key recommended practices that benefit both the grass and the environment: cut the lawn no shorter than 3″ in height; cut only 1/3 of the length of the blades during each cutting; and leave the clippings to decompose on the ground. This Raise the Blade project, as it is called, is part of a broader project called Lawn To Lake. This is a collaborative of organizations in the Lake Champlain Basin working to promote lawn care practices that help reduce polluted stormwater runoff from reaching Lake Champlain.

This blog will be updated weekly (on “Mo Mondays”) during the Mo-wing months to share information about how we installed Mo, how well he does his job, his antics, and the goals the Raise the Blade project aims to reach.