If you ask a lady whether she wants a man who is either conscientious or strong, chances are she will say both. Trust me, I’ve seen the studies. So what if I told you that there’s a way you can mow your lawn that would make you look both strong and smart? Stick with me then when I tell you that the answer is to ditch your gas powered mower and get a reel mower.
That’s right, an old-fashioned human-powered spinning bladed cylinder between two wheels. (That description was for the young’ns who have never seen, much less used one of these beasts before.)
Why are reel mowers a choice that will make you look conscientious and strong? Because they use no gas, they don’t pollute, which is smart. And because they are a bit tough to push, they will give you a good workout, building your beach muscles and making you strong.
Also called cylinder mowers, these people-powered machines rely on the turning of the two wheels to spin the bladed cylinder. The cylinder does not spin when the wheels stop moving as a safety feature.
Pros of Using a Reel Mower
Good for the environment - Though this benefit is obvious, it cannot go unstated. Small engine mowers usually run on gasoline and spew out carbon emissions. While most of the good studies on lawn mower emissions are a bit old, and newer mowers are better than pre-1997 mowers, we know they aren’t as efficient as car engines. A reel mower never requires an unplanned and annoying trip to the gas station to fill up a red can that will leave your car reeking of gas fumes.
Good for your health - If your yard is small enough, why not get off the riding mower or out from behind the self-propelled John Deere and get a nice workout? The technology of reel mowers today ensures that most able-bodied people can use them. I actually found that it takes less time to mow my lawn with my reel mower than my old self-propelled, and for 10 minutes my heart rate is elevated. (Check with your doctor if you are unsure of physical exertion).
Easy to Store - Because there is no engine, there are no fluid leaks, making it easy to store a reel mower almost anywhere, including inside your house. Because they are only two-wheeled, they don’t take up a lot of space, making them a great option for the smallest homes with the smallest yards.
Easy to Maintain - Unlike an engine with tons of moving parts, there really isn’t much to a reel mower. You can see every nut and bolt with the naked eye, making upkeep and maintenance easy. You can probably rig together a fix for almost anything on a reel mower from your local hardware store, and the blades generally don’t need to be sharpened that often.
Cons of Using a Reel Mower
Best for Smaller Yards - Unless you really want to get a good workout, using a reel mower on a large yard might get old fast. It’s also tougher to get that precise mower striping that a lot of people go for.
You Have to Mow Regularly - If you let your grass get a little high, maybe because you were busy with work or life, it’s not quite as easy as firing up the gas powered mower and forcing your way through the tall grass and weeds. With a reel mower, you may have to cut it in stages if you let it grow too tall, rather than try to mow it all in one fell swoop. Fortunately most modern reel mowers have a cutting height adjustment feature that makes it as easy as two clicks.
Tall Weeds and Sticks - Large or tall weeds just get passed over by the reel mower, meaning you have to pull them by hand or use a string trimmer to clean up. It is also necessary to pick up all sticks, large and small, as they will stop your reel like an emergency brake.
So what is the best reel mower? I’m no expert, but the best reel mower should be easy to push, easy to maintain, highly rated, and not too expensive.
When I started looking, I fell in love with the Fiskars Momentum Reel Mower. It looks super fancy and flashy, but at around $200, I decided an entry-level model might be more suitable in case I didn’t like the experience.
Instead, I settled on the Scotts 20-inch Classic Push Reel Mower. It is on the lower end of the price scale, around $120, which is good for those of us who like to be thrifty, and it comes highly rated with many reviews on Amazon. When it arrived it was very easy to put together, taking less than five minutes. The blades are already super sharp and can cut paper like scissors. After putting together, you are ready to mow.
After using it for about a month, I can say that I love how easy it is to use. I don’t miss the shoulder-ripping fun of a pull start engine, nor do I miss the noise pollution and gas fumes.