Mowing a Lawn in China without a Lawn Mower

There’s a nice green lawn (not too small) inside my apartment complex in Shanghai. I always thought it was weird how I never seemed to see a lawn mower anywhere, but the grass was clearly routinely cut. Then I got my answer:

Mowing a Lawn by Weed Wacker in China

Yes, the entire lawn is routinely mowed by weed wacker. When you think about it, it does make sense for China, but I know I’ve seen Americans mowing lawns half this size using riding lawn mowers.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. I’ve thought about this and it doesn’t make sense that China manufactures rotary lawn mowers but doesn’t market them to the locals. Whenever these weedwackers get used, the turf is routinely scalped and cut too short.

  2. As a Chinese translator, the first thing that comes to mind is, do you live in an “apartment complex” or “condominium community”? Shanghai’s real estate development authority tells me that a push to develop apartment complexes started in 2018, because the excessive use of condominium ownership structure was causing serious housing market problems.

    The amateur economist in me is inclined to think that at 20 yuan per hour, bosses are inclined to provide those workers with cheap tools, such as the 300rmb weed whacker, and not the 3000rmb lawnmowers advertised on tmall. It’s not just lawn mowers–look at the prevalence of vacuum cleaners vs brooms among janitors and there is also a similar trend, with a higher proportion of Chinese janitors using inexpensive tools than in developed countries. The fact that lawnmowers are mostly manufactured in China reflects in essence shifting work hours from American grounds keeping staff to less expensive Chinese factory workers who make the tool.

    • LOL… while I appreciate your devotion to accuracy, I have never in my life used the phrase “condominium community” in my spoken English, and I’m not sure I ever will. (My blog voice is pretty similar to my spoken English voice most of the time.) You correctly suspect that I meant 小区. I won’t sweat this detail, though. 🙂

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