Our Yard Work Experience
I don’t know about the usual customs of other Latin American countries, but here in Panama most people hire out their yard work to be done by gardeners. When we moved here in October we did not realize this. During the dry season, not much grows here and so, obviously there is no need for any maintenance in the yards.
Along about January we started hearing the sounds of lawn mowers and string trimmers. Soon we noticed local gardeners pedaling bikes around the neighborhood with their string trimmers and their machetes.
We were lucky that our new home already had a string trimmer and a small hand pruner. We also had a large lethal looking machete which has its own leather case. We knew the previous owners had a gardener do the yard, but we decided that we could do it ourselves. Oblivious at first to how things are done here, we went to Do It Center and bought a new push mower for $50. They had electric and gas mowers there but we decided our lawn wasn’t big enough to warrant such a expense. Okay, now Kevin tried to use the push mower a few times on the front lawn and outside the front gate. He said the neighbors looked at him like he was crazy.
Finally we realized that our type of grass can’t really be cut with a push mower. The grass we have is very dense and thick. So the new push mower sits very shiny and new in the pump room and we haven’t used it since. We let the grass grow until I could not stand it anymore. Then I began learning how to mow with a string trimmer. Granted some of the paint has come off the front wall and I did take bark off the front palm, but all in all I must say I am improving.
How Most Yard Work is Done in Panama
This time of year no matter where you go, you will see gardeners. Either biking with their equipment or in pickup trucks. Some pickups cruise the neighborhoods with loud speakers bellowing to let you know they are available for gardening work.
The gardeners here take pride in their work. They are literally artists. Baking in the hot sun with long sleeves and pants on they create perfection. Most people here have their gardener come at least once every week or so during the rainy season as the plants and grass really grow fast. When our neighbors across the street have their gardener come, I watch with amazement. Every bush is perfectly pruned to shape and every hedge is level and even as though they had taken a measuring tape to it.
The most amazing part about all of their work is that they only use one tool, the machete. They use it for everything from pruning and shaping to cutting down trees. For the lawns they use string trimmers unless they or the owner has a lawn mower. By the time they are done the yard is covered with branches. They pick it all up and put it in garbage bags and the garbage guys take it away. The end result is always a perfectly groomed yard. What do they get paid? Most people we know pay them $10-15 for a visit. They seem to take anywhere from 2-4 hours.