Monday, May 18, 2009

Reel mower - The good the bad and the ugly

I bought a reel mower last year as an alternative to my gas munching power mower. I really hate using a gas mower. They are loud, smell terrible, are wicked on the environment and completely NOT relaxing.

I did a fair amount of research but in the end I went for a cheap model, against most review recommendations. My thought was that I would use it as a proof of concept before spending more money on a deluxe model. The one I ended up choosing was the Yardworks Reel Mower 18" from Canadian Tire.

Overall I have been fairly happy with it. I have a fairly large lawn but this mower does a good job keeping it neat. There are some tricks though:
  • Mow often. The more the merrier. If you wait until your grass is too long it will not cut it properly.
  • Allow yourself a half width overlap. That will give you a more consistent cut.
  • Keep the blades adjusted properly. This is easy to do and saves a lot of annoyance in the long run.
  • Get rid of your dandelions. Try the Fiskar tool! Those little yellow buggers will drive you nuts if you don't get rid of them. This mower will not trim them.
I find that I enjoy cutting the grass now. It is quiet enough that I can use it first thing in the morning without worrying about bothering the neighbors.

I do still use my power mower for the first cut of the year when things are straggly and also when I get negligent and let my grass get too long.

I still haven't tried one of the deluxe models but I assume they work better. If they do, spend the extra cash.


  1. I'm happy to read this: I've been contemplating an alternative to my gas mower, too. I've always wanted to try the manual kind but a couple things have dissuaded me: 1) It's effectiveness; 2) Maintaining it. Have you sharpened it yet? Can you sharpen it yourself?

    I like dandelions though - I won't be pulling mine out. I'll have to research the models that can cut those effectively.

  2. The manual claims that you only need to sharpen it once every two years. I will probably need to sharpen mine this summer. I hit a lot of sticks...

    I think it's pretty straight forward to sharpen though. It doesn't have a complicated edge. I think a few minutes with a stone is all it would take.

    The only maintenance that I've had to do is adjusting the blade/rotor. You simply tighten a screw on either side of the blade to adjust the distance from the rotor. If it cuts a piece of paper evenly on each rotor edge then it's correct.

  3. Does it cut the edge of the lawn or do you need another tool for that? how does it do at the edge where your lawn meets the sidewalk, and also where the lawn meets the fence?

  4. It only cuts within approximately 3" of edges. I had previously bought a set of "Fiskars Power-Lever Grass/Hedge Shears" so I use those to cut the edges where necessary. (I'm beginning to sound like a Fiskars commercial here!)


I appreciate your feedback, comments and other helpful input.