As any red-blooded American with a yard and a mower knowns, lawn care isn’t merely reserved for for those trying to sell their homes. In fact, the average homeowner with a yard spends about four hours a week—roughly 8.5 days per year—caring for their lawn.

Here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, we were recently wondering how much longer it would take if, instead of using a traditional or ride-on mower to get the job done, you were to get all obsessive-compulsive on your lawn and prune it using scissors. As you can see with our calculator, such meticulousness would require a lot of time. In fact, it would take about 194.5 days to trim the average American yard using a pair of scissors. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? Just wait until you read how we calculated it.

How We Did It

In order to come up with this number, and ultimately the formula for our calculator, we needed to know three things:

  • The size of the average American lawn
  • The amount of grass in said lawn
  • How long it takes to cut the grass using scissors

Finding the size of the average yard was easy; calculating the blades of grass in that yard was just a matter of multiplication; and finding out how long it would take, well, that took some hands-on research.

Americans Love Their Lawns


Source: Flickr user Tobyotter

It turns out that the size of the average American lawn is 0.2 acres, or 8,712 square feet. Now, this little tidbit of information took less time than snipping a blade of grass, so I decided to delve a little bit deeper, for your learning pleasure. After all, you need something to ponder while you’re cutting all of that grass:

  • Eighty-five million households in the U.S. have private lawns
  • Out of the 50 million acres of grass in the entire country, 21 million of those acres are in our yards
  • According to the National Gardening Association Survey, Americans spend an average of $363 per year on their lawns and gardens. That’s about $30 million a year total.

Okay, so we now know the size of the average American lawn—and some fun facts—but how many blades of grass does that equal?

How Many Blades Are There?

According to the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, the average square foot of lawn has 3,000 blades of grass. To find the number of blades per yard, I simply multiplied the size (8,712 square feet) by 3,000.

So, the average American yard has 26,136,000 blades of grass. Of course, this is just a fun fact until you get out there and start cutting them with scissors, which is precisely what I did.

How Long Does It Take?


Source: Flickr user mattjlc

Armed with a standard pair of scissors and a stopwatch, I ventured outside. I didn’t trim an entire yard, but I did take two small chunks out of one. (My neighbors will thank me later.)

It took me about 1.5 seconds to trim roughly 140 blades of grass, pulling a handful taut and making one clean cut with the scissors. If I were to cut all 26,136,000 blades of grass in the yard this way, it would take me 4,667 minutes. That’s 3.24 days for one cut! Suddenly the American average of 8.5 days a year isn’t looking so bad.

Considering that grass grows about a thousandth of an inch every 15 to 20 minutes—that’s about 1.5-2.5 inches in two weeks—by the time you’d even made a dent in your lawn, you’d probably have to start over again anyway.

Unless, of course, you had a goat trailing behind you. But that, literally, is a different story altogether.

Why Should We Even Have Yards?


Source: Flickr user JD Hancock

If learning the amount of time, energy, and money most Americans put into their yards has made you want to say “sod it” and turn your lawn into a mud pit, consider this:

  • Lawns are very efficient oxygen producers. Even a small lawn of 50 by 50 feet releases enough oxygen daily to meet the needs of a family of four for 24 hours, and it absorbs CO2, ozone, hydrogen fluoride, and other toxins.
  • Grass can keep your home cooler. It lowers the surface temperature around your home by 30 to 40 degrees compared to bare soil and is 50 to 70 degrees cooler than streets and driveways.
    Grass areas trap about 12 million tons of dust and dirt from the air each year.
  • Considering how good grass can be for your home and the environment, it seems odd that mowing the lawn should be so very damaging. So damaging, in fact, that a car would have to drive 100 miles to produce as much pollution of just one hour with a lawn mower.

So, maybe there is something to trimming your yard with scissors after all—you’d just need a really big pair of scissors.