Monday, March 24, 2008

Mowing for Exercise

We stopped at Lowe's on Friday because I wanted to look at reel mowers. I'd thought about getting one last year, but didn't say anything to Romie or anyone about it, and then I read an article in the new April issue of Horticulture magazine about 'green' mowers. If we got a reel mower, several things would be accomplished with its use:

  • No need for gasoline or oil.
  • Easy to start - just push it!
  • Friendly to the environment due to no emissions.
  • Provides exercise while accomplishing a necessary task.

Lowe's had two models in stock. One had a 16" cutting width with two wheels, while the second one was 20", along with a bag attachment and four wheels. I came home and did some online research of models, read reviews, and compared prices.

Amazon has one that is self-sharpening and includes a bag attachment for a great price. It's by Gilmour and sells for $99.99 with free shipping.

I'm not sure we'll purchase one, but we're considering it. Any suggestions, especially if you have experience with one, would be greatly appreciated!



Melanie Chopay said...

Kylee, you must have been reading my mind. I've been thinking about these mowers like crazy. The photo of the Gilmour one you show is exactly what I would want. I need the bagging attachment so I can gather some clippings for my compost heap.

I'm going to forward your blog address to my husband at work so he can see this too!

Meg said...

No advice from me, but I think it's awesome that you're considering a reel mower! A few of our friends use them (no idea what brands or anything) and love them. The general consensus seems to be that they do a great job and they definitely give you more of a workout. The only downside is that mowing takes a bit longer (though running to the gas station before, during, or after mowing with a gas mower definitely adds some time to the job, and you could argue that there are no surprises with a push mower).

If you guys decide to get one, you of course must give us a full review!

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Kylee . I tried to talk my husband into one of these and I even said I would do our little lawns like that, as opposed to the scary gas sucking spewing thing we have ... ugh !
I'm getting rid of more lawn for garden space anyways ..
Is that a joke .. Spring begins in 361 days banner ?????????? LOL

Kylee Baumle said...

Melanie ~ Keep me posted as to whether you get one or not, and how you like it if you do!

Meg ~ I'm thinking we have too large of a property to mow the entire lawn this way, but my intent is to at least do the front lawn with it. If we do get one, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised and I WILL be able to do the whole yard with it in a decent amount of time.
For sure, if we get one, you'll hear about it and how we like it!

Joy ~ What banner? LOL!

Frances, said...

Kylee, we bought one of these about ten years ago from Lowe's. It is great, but ours is quite heavy. To cut longer grass, you have to run over it several times. The highest setting is still lower than I want to cut our grass. We have a small bit of lawn, but it is on a hill, like our whole property. I ended up buying an electric mower, still pretty eco friendly, no oil or gas, little noise, a long extension cord takes some practice, but is easy to use. If you have someone with more muscle to use the reel mower, do it. I might try mine again, we still have it and I like the idea of it, but it's hard to push. Hope this helps.
Frances at Faire Garden

Nancy J. Bond said...

I have no experience with green mowers myself, but your reasons for wanting to buy one seem legit. My friend bought one to mow her small lawn, but found it a bit cumbersome and difficult to push and ended up with an electric. I'd probably "test drive" a few before purchasing. :)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

There's another good thing about these mowers: you can mow whenever you want & not worry about disturbing the neighbors. With a reel mower, you have to keep up with the lawn more as it is hard to cut long grass with it. If you get one, make sure you also get a sharpening kit, as sharper blades make for easier cutting and fewer ragged edges. I've had one for many years, but I also have a gas mower. DH won't use the reel mower unless he has to, but I like it for quick trims of the front, as it is much lighter than the non-self propelled gas mower. I also don't have a bag attachment for it, as I leave the grass clippings for the lawn.

garden girl said...

I think it's a great idea. I know I could never talk my lawn man (husband!) into one, and to be fair our lawn is probably a bit on the large size to make one of those practical.

I'll be checking back to see if anyone else has 1st hand experience with these mowers. I really hope they work well and catch on with more people.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have an acre right?? Way too much to reel mow. Now if you have cut down your grass to just paths maybe. It all depends upon your type of grass. Some is so tough a reel type won't hardly cut it. At least that is the experience that we had where I work. My boss bought a reel type mower. It was a real nice (expensive) one. It worked great but not on the grass at the shop. It was so tough no one would push it. Ha... I would ask if you could borrow one to try out before plunking down the money for one. You wouldn't have to work out for your marathon if you did this believe me.

Kylee Baumle said...

Frances ~ It's supposedly not hard to push, but I'd have to try it.

Nancy ~ I'm not sure how I could test-drive one on actual grass.

Mr McGregor's Daughter ~ The Gilmour is supposedly self-sharpening.

garden girl ~ Ours is too large to do the entire lawn, at least to rely on the reel mower for everything, but it would come in handy for doing the front lawn an some areas in back. And it is good exercise - another way of multi-tasking!

Lisa ~ Yes, an acre, but there's an in-ground pool out of that, plus the house of course. And the gardens. Still, it's too large to do with the reel mower all the time. We have a blend of grasses, mostly rye with some Kentucky Bluegrass. Our property is tabletop flat, so slopes are not an issue. I don't know anyone who has one that I could borrow! I don't know anyone that has one period!

Benjamin Vogt said...

Last year, as a wedding present, we got a black and deckers cordless electric. Way expensive, but it sure is handy, light and quiet. I prefer this over a heavy reel mower, which I also thought about. MY electric is so quiet my wife, sitting on the deck, says she can't hear me coming around the corner of the house! It's like a vacuum cleaner! (which means thec ats still don't like it.)

Anonymous said...

I didn't have any lawn until about a year and a half ago, when I installed what I like to call a lawnette. It's very small, so I went to Home Depot and got the very last reel mower they had. It works great. No obnoxious noise, just a swish, swish sound. When the grass gets long, I have to go over it twice, but it's easy to push.

My lawnette is zoysia, a thin-bladed grass. A reel mower might be harder to use on a broad-leaf St. Augustine lawn, which is common in Austin.

Anonymous said...

I love reading all the comments! I personally love to push-mow, but have way too much yard now to do it all that way....maybe you can do a one day rental and see what you think of it? I'll look forward to hearing what you do.

Lucy said...

I have one i bought at a farm auction for a buck many years ago. Reel mowers are good for small smooth lawns with short grass. If there is that rough field grass (switch grass) or crab grass humps the thing will get hung up. Tall grass with bind it up badly and it takes some time to unwind the long grass from the axles and blades You also have to remove EVERY stick and twig in the lawn or they will find their way into the blades and jam them. I have been amazed at how small twigs can cause such trouble.

like you I have a small farm in western Ohio with lots of gardens (3 acres worth)and we do like using the reel mower in our hoop houses.

They are a great workout. I used to do a 1/2 acre lawn with the reel mower in another life. But over the years I found using the gas powered mower takes a lot less time (like 10 hours less time) and since my time gets taken up by more important tasks such as the market garden or chickens the reel mower does not get used all that much any more other than for small areas/tasks.

Anonymous said...

Make sure you get some experience pushing one of these before deciding to go ahead and buy one.

They are really hard to push! I was surprised.

Anonymous said...

Make sure you get some experience pushing one of these before deciding to go ahead and buy one.

They are really hard to push! I was surprised.

Frances, said...

Hi, Kylee, your post got me thinking about the reel mower we still have so it was used today to mow the small bit of lawn. Where the grass was thinner, it was a cake walk, but when it got to the thicker grass, it was hard to push. We have a mix of Kentucky bluegrass and Kentucky 31 tall fescue, green all year here, but only growing in the warmer months. Still, the sound is a delight and it was sure a cardio workout, I was huffing and puffing through the thick stuff. Some of the grass was longer, so now that it has been cut, maybe it won't be as hard to mow next time. Since you are running a marathon this will help get you in shape! I don't know about being able to do a whole acre though. ;->

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

I used to have a reel mower in my first garden as the lawn was very small. My second garden had now lawn at all so we got rid of the reel mower. My third garden used to be all lawn and we bought an electric mower for it. Now all that lawn has been reduced to just a small lawn and I'm thinking of buying a reel mower as my electric one is about to give up the ghost.

I like mowing with a reel mower, it's not hard work at all and I love the soft sound it makes, very soothing!

Anonymous said...

I have always heard that they are hard to keep sharpened...but if this one is self-sharpening, I say go for it!

Anonymous said...


Three years ago, I convinced my husband to buy a Brill reel mower from here: .

I like it, my husband doesn't. My absolute favorite thing about it was that when my son naps, we can still mow the lawn. Also, when my son is playing outside, I can mow part of the lawn and keep and eye on him. When he was tiny I would even put him in the baby backpack and mow.

I agree with the post that stated you need to keep up with the lawn - tall weeds do present a problem.

Good luck - we only have .25 acre to mow (less each year as I expand the garden), but I really like the product. It is also so light that I have it hanging on a ladder hook in the garage.

Kylee Baumle said...

We haven't decided anything just yet. It's interesting how people have such varied experiences with these.

Anonymous said...

I got a reel mower for Mother's Day several years ago and had it for 3 years. I liked it a lot. However, the type of grass I have (St. Augustine) and the fact that I have many leaves which I prefer to mulch into the lawn got me to switch to an electric mower last year.

I think the type of mower one needs depends a lot on the kind of grass you have to cut. As for size of lawn, I think the reel mower would be fine for a large lawn as it is so much lighter and easier to push than a gas or electric mower.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kylee. I've been mowing my small yard with a reel mower for 7years now and wouldn't have it any other way. I bought mine at Home Depot ~ Scott's brand ~ and it's done a great job. I do have to mow more often because if I let the grass get too long, it's harder to push. I'm happy that I can mow whenever I want to without worrying whether I'm bothering my neighbors or not. I wish mine had a bag to catch the clippings (and leaves in the fall) but that's the only drawback. Good luck making your decision.

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