I have a love/hate relationship with grass. It’s just so high-maintenance. You have to water it to grow, and then when it grows you have to cut it. Not to mention the peer pressure from the neighbors to keep your lawn nice.
I managed to avoid cutting the grass for thirty-four years, and then last summer I moved into my first house: a house with an attractive yard to mow. I found myself comparison-shopping for a lawn mower.
I am a bit intimidated by the power mowers. They’re loud and dirty, and I have a fear of cutting off my foot. I decided to look at reel mowers. I bought one, and I’ve had it for almost a year.
This is what I like about a reel mower:
1. A reel mower does not have an engine, so you don’t have to buy gas or change the oil. You don’t have to breathe in the exhaust. You push it, so it gives you some exercise, but you don’t smell like a power mower when you’re done.
2. It’s apparently better for the grass. It has a cylinder with blades that rotate as you push, cutting the grass with a precise scissor-like action instead of shredding it. The clippings fall back into the grass, so they nourish the grass without being noticeable.
3. It’s quiet. You can mow early in the morning during the coolest part of the day without disturbing your neighbors.
4. You can use it around kids. I cut the grass while the kids are in the backyard with me, without worrying about them getting too close or getting hit by flying debris. Since it’s quiet, I can keep an ear on the kids while they play.
5. It’s small and lightweight. You can hang it on a wall to save space.
But there are a few things you should know:
1. A reel mower is for cutting grass; it’s not meant for mulching leaves, sticks and tall weeds. Sticks will get caught in the blades, and tall weeds will bend so the mower goes right over them. You will need to rake leaves and pick up sticks before you mow, so a power mower might be best if you have lots of trees or uneven ground.
2. It’s better to mow frequently. It’s harder to push the reel mower through grass that has gotten too tall, and any missed blades of grass will become more noticeable.
3. It takes effort, so it’s probably better suited for small to medium yards.
What I have:
I bought a Scotts 20-Inch Classic push reel mower because I heard it was good for thick St Augustine grass. It’s a little heavier than some reel mowers, but the extra weight can help it go through thick, overgrown grass. It’s the only one I’ve tried, so I can’t compare it to other brands. Our lot is a fifth of an acre with a few trees including a huge, messy pecan tree.
I still don’t love to mow the lawn, but I don’t mind it too much. I can mow the grass and get some light exercise for twenty minutes, and when I come inside I’m not covered with grass and engine exhaust. The lawn continually looks better, too.