Our gas powered lawn mower quit about a month ago. It had been sputtering and stalling for quite some time but we had continued to struggle with it, pulling on the starter cord over and over again each time it coughed to a stop during mowing. Just when it appeared nothing could stop us from making do with such a difficult mower, the pull handle popped off the top of the starter cord, disappearing into some internal place within the mower. Even though this happened when caught with about only 2/3 of my front lawn mowed, I was happy. Happy to finally get rid of the stupid machine with its leaking gas tank, stalling problem, difficult starter, and broken self-propeller part.
Because recent information about gas propelled mowers told me that using a gas mower to mow a typical lawn resulted in the same amount of emissions of a car driven between Boston and Washington DC, I wanted to purchase a more environmentally friendly electric mower to replace our now dead gas mower. But my husband had other ideas. Long tired of the wasted energy used to mow grass, my husband suggested we check out push reel mowers. I was worried we would be throwing our money away as I remembered the one time I had attempted to mow a lawn with a heavy, rusted, jammed reel mower - long ago when I was probably eight- and that memory had cemented in my mind that reel mowers were useless.
Many environmental organizations push the use of electric mowers, some even offering up trade-in opportunities encouraging you to turn in your gas mower for a free electric model. While electric mowers may use cleaner energy and not have the emissions gas mowers do, why settle for any amount of energy use when push reel mowers don't use any energy at all to operate?
Of course, you do have to use your own personal energy to push a reel mower, but with the purchase of our new Scotts Elite reel mower, we are finding it to be no different than what it took to push our old gas powered mower around. In fact, we find our push reel mower to be easier because it is lighter and I have discovered my childhood experience of difficult reel mowers to be a thing of the past. The reel mowers of today are simple to maneuver and you get the added benefit of being able to hear the birds while you mow. In fact, on a recent morning, while mowing my lawn at 6:30am in order to beat the heat of the day (can't do that with a roaring gas powered mower), I actually found myself enjoying the act of mowing. The gentle whir of the blades cut the blades nicely and didn't tear and injure them like a typical mower, and in no time at all, I was back inside enjoying my first cup of coffee as the heat of the day rolled in.
Of course, with a city backyard like mine (shown above), it is no wonder it only takes minutes to cut. But I have read personal accounts from others online who use a reel mower to successfully manage much bigger yards. My entire family loves using our new mower (my husband says mowing the lawn is relaxing now) and we plan on using this type of mower forever more. Why choose to use electric or gas energy when there are great alternatives out there?
There are many great sites online that list the pros and cons of reel mowers and also give reviews. Below are some of the complaints regarding reel mowers I read about:
Some people talked about how the reel mower doesn't cut properly sometimes and causes the grass or weeds to lay down without being cut. I have found this to occasionally happen but I just go back over that area again. Not really a big deal. How many times have you found a missed spot with a gas mower? Plenty!
Another complaint I read about was that you can't get into tight spots with the reel mower. This too hasn't been a problem. In fact, I find that I can get just as close to a fence or building with the reel mower as I could with my gas one.
Finally, some complained that the mower blade gears or handles broke easily, rendering some reel mowers useless. I suppose this can happen with some of the cheaper models, but at $100, my mower is one of the cheapest ones out there and I have not found any part to be poor to date. The reviews for my model (Scotts Elite) cautioned against buying it due to the plastic gears being broken by the metal blades of the mower, but I could not find any evidence of plastic gears and figure Scotts has corrected this past problem.
All in all, I highly recommend the purchase of a reel mower when your gas mower takes ill. Enjoy the freedom of not having to run up to the gas station to purchase gas when your mower runs out before the yard is finished. Enjoy not having to have your mower serviced because it is having mechanical problems. To constantly beg the thing to start, or to breathe its fumes as it belches along.
Enjoy instead the act of watching your kids mow the lawn. The novelty of it all will spur them on, and because a reel mower is much safer for kids to operate than a power mower, before long you'll be spending more time in your hammock than doing yard work. A sweet deal for you along with benefits for the environment.