Mowing the Lawn with a Reel Mower
I know some of you are still in "snow shovel" mode, but down here in sunny Virginia, we're gearing up for Spring and things are starting to blossom! The daffodils are up, the trees are budding and the grass is starting to grow. Quickly.
So before hubby could even fill up the tank on the gas-powered pushmower, I trucked myself on down to Home Depot and picked up a good old fashioned reel mower. (I tried to find one on freecycle or craigslist first, but had no luck.)
Anyhow, we used to have one of those people-powered puppies at my grandmother's camp and I remember it did a fine job of keeping her 12' x 40' patch o' green looking neat. The question is -- would it work on our slightly larger and much more inclined yard? The second question, of course, would be -- is hubby going to poo-poo the idea as another wacky green scheme that is destined to fail?
Turns out the answers are 'yes' and 'no'. To both questions.
Yes, the mower did work on our lawn. It was no more difficult to push than the gas mower, in fact, I thought it was much easier to maneuver. It sure as hell was easier to start! It makes no noise and I'm able to use it in the front yard while the kids pick up pinecones, play on the steps or dig for worms.
The downside is that sometimes it's just as likely to bend the grass over as it is to cut it and a small twig or piece of mulch caught in the blades brings the machine to an abrupt stop. Personally, I thought it did a good enough job to satisfy the neighbors, but would definitely not pass muster as a par 3 golf course. The good news is, our yard isn't listed on the tour, so I think the reel mower will do just fine.
Hubby grumbled a bit at first, saying that he didn't think it would do the job. I think he thought I wasn't being reelistic. Then he tried it and was actually impressed at the ease of use. He didn't heartily endorse it, but didn't say it was crap either. He thought it would be great to use for a once-a-week cut, but feels certain the yard will still need a "thorough mowing" every now and again.
I'm betting that once the heat of summer hits full force, he'll be happy to have my slap-dash REEL mowing (performed by me in the cool mornings), rather than his 'wait-until-he-gets-home-after-work-when-it's-a-hundred-degrees-out' REAL mowing. We'll see. In the meantime, let's see what this little change means for the environment.
According to the EPA, more fuel is spilt each year filling up garden equipment (e.g. lawnmowers, string trimmers, chipper/shredders, etc.) than was lost in the entire Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. - Yikes. Also, mowing an average 1/4 acre lawn produces more air pollution than driving a new (i.e. 1995) pickup truck round-trip to NY from Washington D.C. - Double Yikes.
So from here on out, I'm going to be sticking with the reel deal, my friends.
I couldn't find good estimate online for how much gas we use when we mow the lawn. So I asked hubby and he estimates it takes about a half gallon of gas per mow. We try to maintain a quasi-presentable lawn, so we mow it every week. Here in Richmond, we start mowing around mid-March and stop in October. At a half gallon per mow, that's roughly 16 gallons of gas we will (hopefully) be skipping this year. And, at $3.15 a gallon, that amounts to over $50 in dollar savings. One more season and the reel mower will have paid for itself!
Difficutly Level: 1 out of 5
Personally, I prefer the reel mower to the gas machine. Let's face it, the gas mower is a mother-thumpin' bitch to start, it's noisy as hell, hard to push and you simply cannot use it when the kids are outside, for fear that they'll get hurt. The reel mower, on the other hand, is light, simple to operate, quiet as a mouse, and can be used around the kids. Although it should NEVER be used on the kids. It gives a very sloppy hairut.
Just kidding. In all seriousness, though, the kids shouldn't be allowed to touch it -- after all, those are big friggin' blades and they're sharp!
We'll see if I'm still still in love with the reel deal come June, when the lawn is thicker! Be sure to ask me then.... but in the meantime, remember: Reel men don't use gas mowers.