Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back to the Future with a Reel Mower

Treehugger had a great post about using a reel mower to cut your grass. I just bought one a month ago, and I love it. I'd recommend it to anyone.

People get a little freaked out by the thing. I think it's because they remember hauling out their dad's rusted out, impossible to use mowers and left them behind long ago.

The first time I took the mower out, a neighbor yelled out to me, "What is this, back to the future?"

There are a number of reasons to get yourself a push reel mower:

  1. It's quiet. This could be the biggest personal benefit of a reel mower. You can cut the grass and think at the same time.

  2. It doesn't take longer to cut the grass. Gas-powered machines require a little prep time and down time before a cut to check for fuel, oil level and cleanliness, and after a mow to clean out the cutting area (spark plugs detached, please!). A push reel can go as soon as you touch, but will take just slightly more time to cut the grass. Raking afterwards can take time, but you can solve that by getting a bag for your push reel. Yeah, they make them.

  3. It's cheaper. All you need is the push mower and a little WD-40 to keep things loose. Occasionally, you may want to sharpen the blades. Gas mowers use, um, gas, and I hear that can get pretty expensive these days. You also need to get tune ups and oil changes. And they cost more to buy out of the box.

  4. No pollution. Seriously, if you're considering getting a push mower, isn't that a big reason why?

But there are some issues to consider:

  1. It takes a little more physical effort to use. It's only slightly more work than pushing around a gas-powered mower, but it's still more work. It's the same as a hard walk or slight jog, and you can control the exertion by controlling your own speed and effort. I'm very much overweight and out of shape, and can definitely feel the burn, but it's not a deterrent at all.

  2. It doesn't cut the perfect lawn. If you're looking to model your lawn after the putting greens at Augusta, you're our of luck. Reel mowers, by their design, can't catch really tall blades of grass or weeds. It also leaves wider edging than a gas mower (maybe two to three inches total). You'll need to follow up on these errant strands with your weed whacker. If you do, buy a cordless model. Just as powerful as your gas-powered whacker, but not as heavy.

  3. Expect to rake. There are bags for reel mowers, but the word on the Interwebs is that these bags aren't so efficient. I still haven't gotten around to ordering one, opting instead to rake my lawn after a mow. The whole process takes me only an hour, compared to about 40 minutes to mow with a gas-powered mower. Had I a bag, there'd be no time difference.

  4. People are somehow threatened by push mowers. My mother and sister told me I was crazy for getting one. My next door neighbor offers me her gas-powered mower every time I go out. The guy across the street heckled me. You need to really stand strong in your convictions if you're gonna do this.

So go get a reel mower! It's quieter, it's free exercise, and it's better for the world, damn you.

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