Tips on choosing and using a manual reel mower.
Whether you look forward to getting outside and mowing your lawn every week
or dread it as a necessary chore may depend not only on your attitude, but
also on your lawn mower.
"People who use gas mowers put up with ear-splitting noise, headache- and
nausea-inducing fumes and mechanical problems," says L Hundley, Chief
Gardening Evangelist at Clean Air Gardening. He prefers the serenity and
simplicity of old-fashioned reel mowers. "There is a real element of
pleasure to using a manual mower," he says.
Today's reel mowers are a far cry from the one your grandfather used. "Reel
mowers are light, quiet, and virtually maintenance-free," notes Hundley. The
mowers are environmentally friendly, and also better for your grass. "Rotary
mowers tear the grass -- reel mowers cut grass like scissors, leaving a fine
spray of clippings as mulch for your yard," he explains. They do take some
effort, but they aren't any harder to push than an 80-pound gas mower that
While it does take a bit longer to mow with a manual mower than a power
mower, it is a much more pleasant experience. Instead of the roar of a
mower, you hear the pleasant mechanical sound of the blades, the chirping of
birds and buzzing of insects. Instead of the smell of gas exhaust, you have
the smell of fresh air and fresh-cut grass.
A manual mower is best suited for 8,000 square feet of grass or less. "If
you live on a half-acre lot or smaller, then a manual reel mower is a very
reasonable choice," says Hundley. "But if you have more grass than that,
then it's going to be too time consuming for the average person." Hundley
says that if it typically takes someone 45 minutes to mow their lawn with a
power mower, they can expect to spend 60 to 70 minutes doing the same job
with a reel mower.
Hundley shares these tips for getting the best cut with a manual reel
1. Walk at a good, steady pace. With a manual reel mower, you are the
engine; the mower will tend to bind up and skid if you walk at a snail's
pace. So get moving at a comfortably quick walking pace and you'll get the
2. Overlap your rows. This will make the mower a bit easier to push because
you're mowing less grass, and it will also help catch any spots you might
have missed on the previous row.
3. Experiment with different mowing patterns. Different types of grass and
different lawns have different growing patterns. The direction in which you
mow can make a difference in the quality of the cut.
4. Don't let the grass get too tall. Manual mowers are harder to push when
the grass gets too tall, so keep your lawn mowed weekly.
5. Experiment with your cutting height. Once you've looked up your type of
grass and know the recommended cutting range, try different cutting heights
to find which height makes the grass easier to cut and which height gives
you the best cutting results.
6. Embrace imperfection. Grass is a living organism. It's not carpet. If you
miss a few blades of grass and they're sticking up in the yard, move on.
You'll get them next week.
7. Mow early. This is one of the neatest advantages of having a reel mower.
You can get up at the break of dawn and mow, and you won't wake your
next-door neighbors. Take in the cooler morning temperature, listen to the
birds, enjoy yourself.
For more information about using a reel mower, visit the
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