Saturday, April 9, 2005

Reel Mowing

This is the third year I've been using this reel mower:

Here's why I like it better than a power mower:

1. EFFICIENCY. Through the wonder of Newton's third law, the reel mower always draws exactly the right amount of energy -- no more and no less -- from its power source (that's you) to do the cutting required. The reel mower is Saladin's scimitar, as compared to the power mower, which is King Richard's broadsword.

2. EASY TO START AND TURN OFF. Walk! Stop walking!

3. ELEGANCE. The reel mower neatly snips the blades of grass with its penta-helical whirling scissors (that's what its cutting blades are, you know). The power mower just whacks the top of the grass off (because you don't sharpen them twice a year like you're supposed to, do you? That's why the tips of your grass are brown).

4. FESTIVITY. Whereas the power mower leaves nasty clumps of crushed, damp grass to rot in your yard, the reel mower throws up a little cloud of green confetti that settles gently at your feet. Whee!

5. AURAL DELIGHT. Not only can I use my reel mower at 7 a.m. and not bother my neighbors (not that I would ever actually want to mow at 7 a.m., but somebody might. Maybe you have a neighbor who you'd like to have one of these), but the gentle susurrus* of its blades actually evokes memories of a simpler era for people of a certain age -- kind of like Proust's cup of tea, but with a lawn mower.

*Do you know how long I've been waiting to use this word?

6. MAINTENANCE. According to the manual, its blades need to be sharpened every five years. No oil changes, no air filter changes, no spark plug changes, no gas to buy. I spray mine with a little WD40 about every third time I use it. I suppose if you wanted to get really retro, you could use one of those oil cans they used on the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz.

7. PRICE. Mine cost $85 a couple of years ago.

8. AEROBICISE! It's gives me a little more exercise than my push power mower (but not a lot), and when the grass is thick in midsummer, it works the pecs and triceps a little. I figure I work off about 250 calories on my yard. It also makes you smell manly.

9. NO EMISSIONS. Except from you.

10. WEIGHT. It's the Oreck XL of the mower world. You can pick it up with one hand and hang it on a hook.

11. MORAL SUPERIORITY is what you feel when you use it! (Not that you are morally superior.) (Well, maybe just a little.)

I think it does a pretty good job of cutting:

But caveat sector ("let the mower beware"). If you want a butch-waxed, super-thick, heavily-fertilized lawn, you probably won't like a reel mower. You have to cut twice (in two directions) for a really smooth look, and even then it's a bit more relaxed than what you get with a good power cut and a sharp blade. I cut twice in front for the neighbors, and once in back for the dogs. But if you let the grass get really long, you're in a world of pain, because the rotor just kind of rolls over really high grass.

For me, the pro's outweight the con's.


Kathy Davis said...

I remember that my knuckles started to feel funny after pushing them a while. I never could figure out why.

Rob Ainbinder said...

I've always wondered how well it works on sloped yards. I almost bought one last time around. The one time I used a reel mower it was a wood handled job. UGH!

Was this one from Sears?

David Wharton said...

I bought it at Lowe's. Can't say how it would work on sloped yards.

Instapundit seems to like his, though, especially since his daughter does most of the mowing!

rich jackson said...

I agree with all the "pros" of the reel mower. I bought one when I moved into my Mendenhall Street house. My only complaint, and why I stopped using it, was it cut the grass too short. Even with max height adjustment. People would stop on the sideewalk and comment " I didn't think you could get those mowers anymore." It was great until I hit a wwalnut hidden in the grass. Instantly impaled by the handle shaft.
Rich Jackson