Like many people around the country last week, we mowed our lawn for the first time this season. The difference between us and our neighbors, however, is I talked on the phone while I did it.
We have a push-reel mower.
Last summer, I sold my husband’s shiny, red, super-charged, front-wheel-drive, 9 billion horsepower, mulching power mower for this little green machine powered by ye ole chevrolegs.
Now I love this thing, and truth be told, Rick hates it. He teases me all the time about how I’m saving approximately 6 gallons of gas a year. If that. And, pretty much, he leaves the mowing to me now, where before it used to be solely his domain. I think he’s embarrassed. But I like it anyway.
In case you have been considering getting one yourself, here are the pros and cons (yes, there are some) of a push-reel mower…
The top five things I love about the push-reel mower:
- It’s quiet. I really did talk on the phone while I was mowing the lawn last week. My mom asked me, what that sound was, and I said, “Oh, I’m mowing the lawn.” Then we both laughed. I was talking on the phone while mowing the lawn. Preposterous! I could mow at six in the morning or ten at night and the neighbors would never know. It’s the stealth mower. I actually like the sound it makes.
- It uses no fuel or oil and takes little to no maintenance. By the time my neighbor is done checking his oil and fuel and pumping and priming, reconnecting the spark plug and whatever else, I’m ¾ the way done mowing my lawn. One time, no joke, with the old power mower I stood outside for like 15 minutes trying to start the thing before I realized the spark plug was disconnected (hubby did this for safety’s sake). The neighbor had to come over and point it out.
- It’s lightweight. All the power it uses comes from your legs and arms pushing this machine; it’s easy to maneuver and I can easily lift it up the couple of steps to our front yard and takes up very little space in the garage. With the old machine, I could barely get it up the steps, and had to go up all backwards and strategic. It was super heavy and could chop off my arm – the little label on the side said so.
- There is NO string pulling to start it up.
- There is no exhaust. No stinky fumes makes me feel all green and hip and environmentally conscious. And also the lack of fumes keeps me from feeling sick. I know six gallons (or whatever) of gas per year is not much, but I don’t mind mowing the lawn now, because I don’t get a headache from the noise/fume combo.
Five things I don’t love:
- You can’t mow over sticks. The power mower mulched and could chop up a stick or a twig that had fallen from the tree in the front yard, but the push mower can’t. I send the boys out in the yard before I mow with the mission to pick up all the sticks. If I accidentally mow over a stick, I have to stop to get it out of the mower, because it will jam the blades.
- Sharpening the blades will be a challenge. Not many places know how to sharpen the blades of a push-reel mower anymore, and those who do charge a lot for it – almost as much as the mower cost. Since the blades will stay sharp a long time though, we at least have a while to learn how to do it ourselves.
- It doesn’t always get every piece of grass in one pass. Because of this, it is really important to overlap or mow two ways. Otherwise your lawn looks like it’s received a haircut from a barber half in the bag.
- The neighbors look at us funny. When I first bought the mower, I thought people would think we were so cool – all hip and eco-friendly. Turns out, they either think we are crazy or too poor for a “real” mower. Hmm… this must be why Rick is embarrassed to use it.
- You can’t be a lazy lawn keeper. If your grass gets too long, the push mower is a real bear to use. In fact, there was a time last summer, when we first got the mower, that we had to borrow our neighbor’s power mower because we had waited a couple of weeks too long to mow and the push mower, literally, couldn’t cut it. Lesson learned.
I feel like the push mower and the power mower take about the same amount of physical effort to use. The push mower is all pushing, which isn’t that much work (hey if I can handle that giant cart thingy at Target I can handle the mower). The power mower took more effort for me in the starting, holding down the lever thing, and then holding it back from running my flowers down (since it pulled itself). I think the trade-off of putting the kids on stick patrol and enduring funny looks is a pretty good one. Plus, I can catch up with my mom on the phone while I’m at it. 😉
I LOVE my push mower!! My neighbors think I’m eccentruc for using one!! My only other con to using it is that everyone who passes by says the same thing, “Looks like you’ve got your work cut ou for you!”. They also said that when 10 yards of dirt showed up, when we were taking down trees and shrubs, when we were … jeez! Doesn’t ANYONE besides us know how to do manual labor anymore?
Anyway, the Ace Toolbox store on Holly, south of Dry Creek has an old retired guy sharpen the blades of push mowers. He did a wiz bang job on mine. $50.
I love our reel mower too! We have an extremely small yard which helps. But, like you I love the lack of noise and no maintenance. For the last 8-9 years we haven’t had to winterize, un-winterize, tune-up, or store a strange fire-hazard mix of oil and gas in our garage!
We bought a reel mower when we bought our house last year. We both love it. Granted…we bought the Cadillac of reel mowers – the Fiskars StaySharp Max. We affectionately refer to it as the Lawn Ninja 🙂
We paired it with a Black and Decker battery powered string trimmer. I love not having to store two types of fuel, store oil, mix fuel, winterize engines, wear earplugs, etc. And while you may not be saving a ton of fuel, these little engines don’t have emissions equipment and are very dirty!
I would not go back to gasoline unless I had a massive or very hilly yard.
Kudos to you for using a push mower. I actually had my Dad’s old Sears Craftsman push mower that was 40 years old and I used it to mow the tiny lawn at my last house. My new house has far too big of a lawn though for a push mower. Plus I’ve already been labeled as the “weird” person in the neighborhood due to my veggie gardening and composting and such and a push mower woud probably just make it evern worse.