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 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.