Nope, that’s not a typo. You may not be familiar with the term reel mower, but it’s the correct name for a self-propelled mower without a motor (gas, electric, or otherwise).
And no, this isn’t anything like the mowers your father and grandfather have told you horror stories about. I know you’ve heard the anecdotes of lugging around that horrid self-propelled mower in the heat of the summer, heaving and ho-ing like a cave man before the marvels of modern technological advances.
Don’t believe it people. Reel mowers today are nothing like the days of old (though I’m sure those stories were at embellished and exaggerated at least a bit. I mean, come on, walking to school in the snow uphill both ways?)
When my husband and I moved into our first house (as opposed to an apartment), we took on yard maintenance for the first time. The hubby had talked about wanting a self-propelled push mower for the past year. I was a bit skeptical at first, thinking we would have to dig one up at an antique shop or something and hope it wasn’t rusted beyond repair. But I knew that once he got the idea in his head, nothing else would satisfy him. So off I went to do some research.
I have to say — I was blown away with what I found. Reel mowers, as they are called, are still made today and they are fantastic for your lawn! Now that we have one of our own, I will never go back. And here’s why:
1. Reel mowers require no gasoline. Trust me, your checkbook will be thanking you for this one when gas prices start to spike over the summer. Reducing your dependance of cheap, foreign oil is always a good thing. When an economy is based on cheap oil, what happens when it becomes expensive? Don’t waste your money cutting your grass. Find better things to do with that cash.
2. No maintenance to speak of. Reel mowers are very mechanically simple and don’t require any maintenance to speak of. No priming the engine, no cord to pull, no spark plugs to clean, no batteries to replace. The blades on our Scotts Classic are self-sharpening, but even if you need to sharpen your mower’s blades occasionally, you can purchase a kit for less than $25.
3. Doesn’t bother the neighbors at 6am. Let’s say the high for the day is 103 and you want to mow the lawn before the sun really heats up. With an engine on your mower, you’ll quickly become the most hated person in the neighborhood when you fire it up at 6am on a Saturday morning. Mow the lawn in the middle of the night if you want with a reel mower! Not that you would, of course. (Oh, this reminds me of the movie Fun with Dick & Jane when they steal the neighbor’s grass in the middle of the night. Funny movie!)
4. Scissor-like cutting action is better for the grass. The blades on a reel mower rotate vertically (north to south), as opposed to the rotary blades of gas and electric mowers that spin horizontally (east to west – like a helicopter). That rotary motion rips up and tears the grass. Grass cut with the blades of a reel mower will heal faster, be less likely to suffer from disease or attack from insects, and will be able to develop deep, drought-resistant roots. You’ll probably notice (like I have) more actual grass and fewer weeds on your lawn.
5. It’s NOT difficult to push at all. I was delightfully surprised when I pushed our mower for the first time. Even my father in law said ‘Wow!’ when he first tried it out. It is absolutely not difficult to push. Granted, if the grass in your lawn gets extra tall, it will be difficult to cut with a reel mower. But once you’ve got it under control, you won’t have any trouble.
6. No pollution. You might balk at this. Surely a little gas mower doesn’t pollute that much, right? While it is a small engine, running a lawnmower for an hour can put out as much or more pollution as driving around in a typical sedan for 200 miles! Yikes.
7. Mowing with a reel mower is a more pleasant experience. I distinctly remember mowing the yard in high school with a lawnmower, breathing in nasty fumes, and still feeling like I was vibrating for an hour afterwards. Plus there’s the danger of rocks being slung out from a rotary mower. Mowing with the reel mower is a much more pleasant, rather invigorating experience. It’s nice to finish the job and realize you’ve done it all with your own strength.
So who’s with me? Have you ever used a reel mower? Are you interested in trying it out?