From Unkempt to Award-Winning: Mick Hayes' Passion for Lawn Care and Restoring His Neglected Lawn
Mick Hayes, a lawn enthusiast from Gold Coast, Australia, shares his passion for lawn care and how it all started with his father and grandfather. He bought a property with an unkempt lawn and decided to restore it by removing trees, hand weeding, and using herbicides and fertilizers over a two-to-three year period. He entered a lawn competition in 2020 and won the award for Best Manicured Lawn. Mick's preferred mowers are the Scott Bonnar, Toro Greensmaster, and recently, the Stirling 51, which he trialled and found impressive, especially the twistable speed control. He is excited to continue his lawn journey with the Stirling 51.
Tell us a bit about you and your life
My name is Mick Hayes. I'm a married lawn devotee with two beautiful little boys. We live on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. And when I'm not maintaining the lawn, my passions extend to surfing, fishing, and family. That’s the correct order, right?
Where did your passion for lawn-care come from?
Directly from dad and pop. Dad taught me the importance of maintaining a lawn from a young age when I look back, I think it was less about the lawn and more about having pride in your home and also making me accountable for a job around the home and Pop kept immaculate lawns and equally pristine gardens. This was a time when talking to neighbours wasn’t such a foreign thing to do, and so my parents encouraged me to help maintain our elderly neighbour's lawn. No doubt this is what planted the initial seeds of passion.
Tell us a bit about your lawn journey so far
It began in 2014 when my wife and I purchased our current home. While inspecting the property, it wasn’t even possible to walk on the lawn. It was so full of bindis, weeds and trees. So, I knew that if we were to purchase the property I’d have my work cut for me.
We started by removing all the trees and having the stumps ground down. I then weighed up having the current turf removed and starting again. Instead, I decided to work at it slowly. I started by roping sections off 4 meters by 4 meters, hand weeding each section until I’d removed all the weeds. Then over 12 months I began using herbicides and fertilisers to slowly bring the turf back, which is a mix of QLD blue couch and wintergreen couch. I was still using a rotary mower at this stage because it wasn't yet ready for a cylinder mower.
Around 2016 I employed a company to complete the first lawn renovation. That’s when I could start using the cylinder mower. Since then I haven't looked back. In retrospect, it woud’ve been cheaper to re-level and re-turf it. Still, bringing the turf back over a two-to-three year period gave me time to understand the process. And it was during this period that I picked up a bunch of knowledge from some of the leaders in the Australian turf industry.
2020 was the year I entered my first lawn competition. And after a lot of hard work over many years, I received the award for Best Manicured Lawn. Winning this was all the more gratifying knowing that I’d brought the lawn back from such a woeful condition six years earlier. Over the past few years my focus has been growing Ryegrass during the cooler months. But being that I live in a sub-tropical climate, I haven't had much success. That said, my approach to most things in life is similarly stubborn. If I set my sights on something, I’m not likely to stop until it’s achieved. So I won’t let this one beat me.
What mower do you have? What are your favourite features and why? Talk about your renovation
Like most Australians, I started my cylinder mower journey with a Rover Select 45, which dad passed down to me. After 12 months of using the rover, I got the itch – like a lot of lawnies, I’m sure. So, I started searching for a Scott Bonnar. In Australia, the Scott Bonnar felt like a must-have. Thankfully, I found one before the price on these 25 year old mowers went through the roof. From the Scott Bonnar I went on to purchase a Toro Greensmaster. And not long after that, I purchased another Toro. But this one was the Toro Greensmaster flex. Both mowers are overkill for a home lawn of 390 sqm, but a greens mower cut is on another level.
Late last year I reached out to ADE Turf equipment. I came across the Striling 51 and, for me, it just ticked a lot of boxes. But because they’d only just arrived in the country, trialling one was super difficult. Fast forward four months, and Corbin from Brisbane Cylinder mower specialists reached out and asked if I was still interested in trialling the Striling 51 along with all the cartridges. And to be honest, it couldn't have come at a better time. I was just about to complete a late-season lawn renovation.
On first inspection, I was very impressed by the Stirling 51. Straight off the bat I thought the height adjustment and interchange cartridges were great. But it was during the renovation process that I found the twistable speed control to be by far its most impressive feature. I’m fairly confident that I pushed this machine to its limits during the renovation, and at no point did it disappoint or let me down.
My Allett journey is only beginning and I look forward to getting my hands on my own Stirling 51 and seeing where it can take my lawn over the coming years.