Although reel mowers have been around for nearly two hundred years, many people still see them as a newfangled eco-gadget. In the 1940s we developed a crush on all things gas-powered. But oil prices are up and air quality is down. When the smoke clears, we're re-discovering that reel lawn mowers are a pleasure to use and do a better job.
Start on the Right Foot
Like gas mowers, reel lawn mowers won't cut through stones or branches. Before you mow for the first time, do a walk-about and clear obstructions from your yard. If your grass is crazy high, use an electric lawn mower to trim it down below 4 inches, and rake up the clippings. Reel mowing works best trimming a little at a time, and the blades will gum up if you try to chop down big spindly stalks.
Making the Cut The rest is easy. Real mowing is a quiet, relaxing pleasure. Trim your lawn regularly, when grass has grown no more than a third above your desired lawn height. Set the blade height to about 1.5 inches; longer if hot, dry weather is being tough on your turf. Without the noise, smoke and maintenance of a gas mower, you'll discover that reel mowing is literally a walk in the park.
You'll notice your lawn looking greener immediately. That's because gas mower blades dull easily and rip grass instead of cutting it, leaving the tips torn and browning. Reel lawn mowers cut with a scissors-type action, so the grass is cut cleaner and looks healthier.
The one and only trick is to keep at it. Don't let grass grow too high. Turf naturally reaches out and thickens when it's kept short, and the small clippings fall back to self-fertilize and recycle. If you mow often, no bagging or raking is required, and you'll use far fewer chemicals to get that rich, thick lawn.
Because using a reel lawn mower is so pleasant and peaceful, many users opt to go over their lawns a second time, at a diagonal to the first cut. The result is a smoother finish, leaving an attractive cross-hatch pattern on the grass like you see on baseball outfields. You'll earn extra style points, rewarded by more quiet time wandering the yard with your reel mower.
Reel Mower Maintenance in 5 Minutes
Without all the engine parts that spit, fuss and foul, a reel mower is a snap to maintain. Wash it off, pat it dry and rub the metal parts with a little oil to prevent rust. Like all lawn and garden equipment, if it gets squeaky, oil the moving parts with WD-40 or similar penetrating oil. Keep the blades and gears clear of debris. Wear a leather glove for protection when you reach into the blades, so you don't get nicked.
Don't forget this last important step: remember to turn around and admire your lovely lawn. Reel mowers cut cleaner and more evenly. They're a pleasure to use. If you really want to enjoy more peace and quiet, buy them for your neighbors too.