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With SB Mowing, this Wichita man turns overgrown lawns into internet gold

Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
Spencer with SB Mowing worked several hours to transform a lawn in northeast Wichita recently.

SB Mowing has more than 20 million followers on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. His time-lapse videos of lawn transformations have garnered more than 2 billion views.

There’s something hopeful and almost soothing about watching SB Mowing’s YouTube channel.

Spencer finds yards that need attention — the wilder, the better — and knocks on the door to get the story. Sometimes it’s an elderly homeowner who has trouble doing yard work. Sometimes the person inside doesn’t own a mower. Often the home is vacant, and Spencer talks to the neighbors, who tell him it’s a perennial problem.

Whatever the case, Spencer offers his services for free and gets to work. The 24-year-old Wichita man, who asked us not to use his last name to protect his privacy, turns wild lawns into internet gold.

SB Mowing has more than 20 million followers across all social media platforms, including TikTok and Instagram. His time-lapse videos of lawn transformations have garnered more than 2 billion views.

“When you speed up the work and you see the transformation and it’s super fast-paced, it’s really satisfying to watch,” he said.

Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
The before and after of a recent SB Mowing project in northeast Wichita.

“I had a couple of videos go viral, and I’m like, ‘Man, this is really cool. People are really loving this.’ And I just kept doing it once a week, every week, for almost two years now.”

Spencer started SB Mowing in middle school and continued through high school and college. Now his younger brother runs the landscaping business, and social media is Spencer’s full-time gig.

Internet companies don’t reveal what they pay influencers, but a YouTuber with 1 million subscribers can make $60,000 a year or more.

“I tell people I have the coolest business model ever,” Spencer said. “I get to go help people out, help neighborhoods out, and do it for free for them. And then these big corporations like Google and Facebook pay me for their ads.”

Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
The jagged edge of Spencer's shovel is the result of years of work scraping sidewalks and driveways.

Sponsors like Hustler and Maruyama supply all the lawn equipment Spencer uses — a zero-turn mower and powerful edger, trimmer and backpack blower.

But he does the work. Some jobs take 10 hours or more.

Recently, Spencer spotted a yard near Ninth and Oliver that looked like a jungle. Grass and weeds stood more than 6 feet tall in some places, covering the sidewalk and front door.

Neighbors told him the house is vacant. City crews mow the grass maybe once a year, they said, but they haven’t been around lately.

“People around here … take care of their stuff. But when there’s one like this, it makes the whole neighborhood look bad,” Spencer said. “We’re gonna get the sidewalks cleared up so it’s easy for the neighbors to walk on it. And we’re gonna get it mowed down, just so it doesn’t look like the eyesore anymore.”

Before Spencer unloads the lawn equipment, he sets up a small camera on a tripod and points it toward the yard-in-progress. He starts by edging around the curbs and walkways. Then he grabs his shovel and scrapes dirt and weeds off the concrete.

Along the way, he picks up broken bottles and other trash. The backyard at the northeast Wichita property was covered with poison ivy, so Spencer opted to skip that section.

Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
The front license plate on Spencer's truck.

Eventually, he starts up the mower. That’s the easy part.

“My channel should be ‘SB Completely Uncovers Everything That’s Hidden By Nature,’” he said.

Spencer posts a new project every Friday. Most of his work is in the Wichita area, but last winter he traveled to several southern states to extend his season and keep the content flowing.

His favorite part is knocking on doors and offering his services, but some homeowners think it’s too good to be true.

“People don't really knock on doors anymore. People think I’m trying to scam them, or they’ll think I'm trying to do the work and then put a lien on their house or something like that,” he said. “But I’m pretty good at talking to people. I kind of explain myself and what I do, and almost always people let me do the work for them.”

The headlines on his videos tell much of the story:

This home was being CONSUMED by nature.”

“Lady almost CRIES After I COMPLETELY Transformed her Yard.”

“She thought I was CRAZY til she REALIZED there’s a SIDEWALK there.”

Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
Before he can mow the grass, Spencer often has to pick up loads of broken bottles, limbs and other trash.

Spencer recently started a pressure-washing channel as well. He and his wife travel to Arkansas and Texas, where the plethora of trees leave many sidewalks and driveways dark and slippery.

“I started out doing this for fun, just something to help people out … and it’s turning into my career now,” he said. “It's something I could have never imagined, and I’m so happy to be doing it.”

Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.