Blasted Lawn Mowing

Though not many, there are times when I miss living in an apartment. These times usually coincide with my having to mow the lawn after letting it nearly go to seed. When we bought this house with a tiny yard, <strike>we</strike> I decided it would be best to get a Reel Mower. That way we wouldn’t have to spend money on gas or oil, plus the maintenance costs would be lower and as a last added bonus we’d get more exercise pushing it around the yard.

Yes, yes, you can stop laughing now.

No really, stop laughing at me.


Anyway, we got one and before winter hit we used it maybe twice and it still seemed like an excellent idea. Now that summer is here I’m really beginning to feel that added bonus. Especially when I’ve had a cold for a week. A cold that had me coughing up huge chunks of flem, keeping me from going out and mowing the lawn in bits & pieces as I meant to do this week.

Instead, I just spent several hours fighting my lawn which had patches a foot or 2 high. Those of you with powered mowers are probably thinking “so what?”. Those of you with reel mowers are (hopefully) thinking “you poor bastard.”

You see, oh users of powered mowers, when you run across patches this tall a reel mower tends to bend the grass stalks down into the rest of the grass so they pop back up after you pass by the taller bits. To mow patches like this with a reel mower, you either:

  • run at the patch, lift one side above the height of the tallest piece of grass at the last moment, and drop the spinning blade on top.
  • or you use hand shears and chop it even more manually than with the reel mower (or you cheat and just pull the tall bit out).

With only one or 2 spots like this, it is not much of a problem but when you get to half the lawn it becomes a much bigger issue. Add in upper 80°, 50-60% humidity and you’ve got yourself a long, painful evening a head of you. Or at least I did when I started around 6:30 this evening1.

Still for all my complaining, once I finally finish with the lawn I do get a real sense of accomplishment out of doing all the work. And I’m meeting more of our neighbors than Ariesna because I’m out working on the lawn every week2. So when we attend neighborhood functions, more people tend to recognize me as that idiot nice fellow who was out working on the lawn. This seems to irk her a bit, but I don’t mind. 😀

1 I finally gave up the fight around 9:30 with only 1 long patch of grass left to mow.
2 When I’m not sick. Usually. Ok, I’m out there at least every other week. Or so. *grin*


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Very funny. I was just thinking about getting an old-fashioned mower today after finding out I’m responsible for mowing a 100 sq. ft. patch of grass in the townehouse I’m renting. (It’s absolutely ridiculous. I can’t believe they expect all the tenants to individually mow such tiny areas) It’s definitely not worth it to get a full mower for that small of a patch. What do you think? Should I take the plunge and get a retro push reel?

There are several things to keep in mind about reel mowers:

  • It takes considerably more physical effort to cut the grass using a reel mower, as you are the engine. There’s no mechanical assistance, so all the power is coming from your arms, legs and back. And if you tend to sit at a computer desk like I do all day, you’ll definitely feel the pain in your back for the first few times you’re using the reel mower.
  • In the blog post above, I stretched the truth a bit. Our lawn didn’t actually get up in the 2 foot range. It was more like 4-6 inches and that was enough to make it difficult to mow.
  • It’s recommended that you get the blades on a reel mower sharpened only once a year. From what I’ve read online, powered mowers generally should be sharpened once a month.
  • Since you are the engine with a reel mower, you don’t have to worry about buying/storing gasoline or oil. Alternatively, you don’t have to worry about running over an extension cord while you’re mowing if you have an electric mower
  • Reel mowers make very little noise, so it’s quite easy to listen to music on an iPod or whatever while you’re mowing. This also means you can mow your grass at anytime there’s enough light to see by and not worry about waking up your neighbors.
  • My neighbors seem more likely to come up and chat when I’m mowing. I’m guessing part of it of why they do this is they don’t have to shout over the engine of the mower and they see I won’t waste any gas while they’re talking.

With that kept in mind, I’m glad I went with the reel mower and would recommend it to anyone who wants some exercise and who doesn’t have a large area to mow.

Hah Hah!!! Sometimes it is actually better when your friends don’t follow your advice. That way you can laugh at them later on! Who the hell uses a reel mower these days?

We actually bought my dad a new Lawn Boy mower. That thing is the greatest piece of engineering I have ever seen. It is self-propelled and had electric start. Depending on how much force you use on the push bar, the faster it moves. My neighbor told me he is so jealous now. When it is not in use, you just release a button and the handles go up, and you simply put the rear bad on top of the bars. It takes less space than my Craftsman mower. If you have the money or if you ever want a great mower, get a Lawn Boy.

Actually in my neighborhood, there are at least 3 other houses with people who use reel mowers and one of my neighbors is thinking about buying my spare reel mower off of me. With the price of gas around $3/gallon and lawn mowers not being the most efficient of engines, more people are showing an interest in going back to using reel mowers. Plus, the lack of motor noise is much easier on your hearing.

I love the *idea* of a reel mower. If only I had a small lawn.

Build a larger deck, add in a gazebo and a hottub and even your large lawn will quickly shrink. 😀

IS it really crazy to think a weed eater would do the trick? I also have a teeny area of lawn…about 12 feet by 5 feet. I am a woman but I do faux finishing so am in decent physical shape.

It might but I think it would be difficult to get a nice even trim on your lawn.

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