• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

reel mower?

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I was a girl, my grandfather used a reaal mower on his lawn, and it seemed fairly easy and simple. I got it when he died, but it was stolen long ago from the apartment where I lived.

We are trying to go as fossil-fuel free as possible, and I am thinking of getting one for the bit of lawn we keep for the kids to play soccer and frolic.

Does anyone use one of these? Does anyone have any opinions on what is a good type or brand?

 
Lloyd George
Posts: 159
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Fiskars is making one that seems to have good reviews...
 
Kevin Power
Posts: 16
Location: Western Washington
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just beware to get one that has large wheels in case you got holes and divots in your lawn. Also, keep it sharp otherwise you will be in for a REAL workout. it will make even a small patch feel like pasture. As Lloyd said, the fiskar one is pretty darn good. I like it, but have not bought it. I have got to try it out and seems well built for the price. Again, I do not own it but I would buy it if my current one needed replacement.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1350
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a Fiskars Inertia mower and it is great.
 
Kylie Harper
Posts: 28
Location: Zone 6, Kentucky, high water table
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have the Scott's Classic. It doesn't really cut weeds well, but it works great on grass.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have one but use it rarely. The gas mower has a bagger. Sure is handy to collect those clippings.
I've seen a reel mower with bagger attachment.
Some reel mowers are self-sharpening. Be on the lookout for this feature.

 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If I remember correctly, there are two styles of reel mower.
One uses a scissor action to cut the blade touches the plate (for lack of a better word) -- that's the Scott classic, I think. They require annual sharpening, and the moment they get a little dull they do get pretty hard to push if you are a weakling like me. Haven't used one since I was a kid.
The other style has a very small space (a millimeter or two? comes with a very thin gauge) between the reel and the plate. Those require sharpening every 5 - 8 years, and require an adjustment of the space between blade an plate annually. They don't get hard to push. Possible drawbacks from mine which is a few years old: may not cut high enough, won't cut tall grass AT ALL, doesn't cut very smoothly. I can't use mine here at the moment as we have nothing resembling the level city lawn we were cutting with it. It will cut clover very nicely.
Hoping to do clover paths when I can, and keep them mowed with the reel.
Gani
 
Benjamin Bouchard
Posts: 185
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A scythe is a good companion for a reel mower. If stuff gets too high for the reel just knock it down with the scythe and use the reel for cleanup.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Self sharpening sounds good! I do have a lot of clover in the lawn, but there are also a lot of weeds and we don't like to shear it short very often (during the height of grass growing season my grandfather was out there mowing more than once a week- I think he enjoyed it)

I am intereste in the "Inertia" name- does this mower have a mechanism that helps it moe forward more easily?
 
Benjamin Bouchard
Posts: 185
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Honestly I'm a little leery of anything that sells itself as "self sharpening." EVERYTHING with an edge needs a touch-up once in a while.
 
Thea Olsen
Posts: 95
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a Scott's reel mower that doesn't work on our lawn. I don't know what kind of grass it is, but it is very thick and dense, especially in the front yard. We also have some fairly steep slopes. My husband has a coworker who uses a Brill reel mower and loves it, so we borrowed it and it didn't work on our lawn either. I'd love to be able to use a human-powered mower, and they seem to work well on thinner, flat lawns, but we've given up on them for now. I've decided to just focus on reducing the size of our lawn so we don't have to use the gas mower as much.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
Posts: 185
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thea Olsen wrote:We have a Scott's reel mower that doesn't work on our lawn. I don't know what kind of grass it is, but it is very thick and dense, especially in the front yard. We also have some fairly steep slopes. My husband has a coworker who uses a Brill reel mower and loves it, so we borrowed it and it didn't work on our lawn either. I'd love to be able to use a human-powered mower, and they seem to work well on thinner, flat lawns, but we've given up on them for now. I've decided to just focus on reducing the size of our lawn so we don't have to use the gas mower as much.


For hills the trick is to let gravity do the work for you--start at the top! If it's a really steep slope, though, and you have coarse grasses on them then a scythe may be the only realistic human-powered option. If you end up going that route, email the retailer you intend to purchase from to ask for their recommendation of a good setup for your specific use. A lawn mowing scythe rig is different from a general use one.
 
Craig Dobbson
gardener
Posts: 1430
Location: Maine (zone 5)
107
chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur rabbit trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I switched from a scotts reel mower when I was unable to keep up with the grass. That mower is good for flat areas with grass no longer than 6 inches. After that the mower bends the grass over and it passes beneath the blade without cutting. I'm only 5'5" so leverage is an issue on hilly or uneven ground. I briefly used a gas mower made by Poulan pro but that only lasted a year before I killed it by attempting to mow rather scrubby areas with lots of small brush and shrubs. I also live on a hillside so pushing the mower when it lost traction was a pain in the ass too. Plus it cut very unevenly on slopes.

My current tool of choice is a Stihl FS130 Weed/brush cutter. There are different heads available for different tasks. A regular line trimmer head is used near the house and in areas close to trees and food production areas. There is also a steel 3-bladed cutter head that I use for cutting tall grass (up to 5 ft), cutting small brush (to3/8 inch think), and clearing paths and scrubby areas. There is also a blade that'll cut wood up to 3 inches thick, as well as many other attachments that a homesteader might need on a small scale.

I use a lot less fuel that I did with the gas mower and the ease of use and flexibility in functionality makes it a nice multi-use tool for a small homestead. I still have the reel mower, and maybe it'll see some use in the future once I tame some pathways. And have time to mow them weekly.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
Posts: 185
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd hate actually having to mow a lawn with a string trimmer/brush cutter. Very small swath on those even with the larger heads, and I can't imagine you get a very consistent trim out of it. Good for edging and knocking down tall stuff, but...
 
Craig Dobbson
gardener
Posts: 1430
Location: Maine (zone 5)
107
chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur rabbit trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Benjamin Bouchard wrote:I'd hate actually having to mow a lawn with a string trimmer/brush cutter. Very small swath on those even with the larger heads, and I can't imagine you get a very consistent trim out of it. Good for edging and knocking down tall stuff, but...



Yeah, I would never do that on the weekly basis for a standard "lawn". It takes about twice as long to cut the same area with the trimmer vs the mower but... I only use the trimmer once every six weeks. So time-wise I'm still better off. Once you get the motion right, the results are as good as using a scythe. I end up cutting a 4-5 foot wide row and all the grass or brush ends up in a small row on the left side of the row. I can easily use a rake or hay fork to pile the rows onto a tarp for mulching the gardens and paths. Generally I cut only enough grass to mulch the areas I need to mulch,compost and give the kids some places to run and explore. I would say that I can cut and rake about two hundred pounds of dry grass/hay/brush in a couple hours. The trimmer also leaves the grass in larger pieces so it doesn't mat as easily in garden beds.

I'll have to take some photos when I get a chance, you might be surprised how well it works, once you get used to it. One added bonus is a really nice abdominal workout from the swinging motion.

 
Benjamin Bouchard
Posts: 185
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Impressive swath for a weed whacker, but not even close to what I can get with my scythe. I can get at least a 6-7 foot swath about a foot and a half deep without fully extending myself, and the clippings remain as full stalks so it's still good fodder for the horses (chopped up stuff from a mechanical mower can give them major problems.) I can also go through scrubby stuff without changing the blade, though I have blades specifically for the task if that's what I plan on mostly tackling. That being said, you've found a system that works for you, and I've found one that works for me, so it's all good.
 
Cris Bessette
gardener
Posts: 780
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
35
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matu Collins wrote:When I was a girl, my grandfather used a reaal mower on his lawn, and it seemed fairly easy and simple. I got it when he died, but it was stolen long ago from the apartment where I lived.

We are trying to go as fossil-fuel free as possible, and I am thinking of getting one for the bit of lawn we keep for the kids to play soccer and frolic.

Does anyone use one of these? Does anyone have any opinions on what is a good type or brand?



I went from a gas mower to a Scotts Classic reel mower a few years ago. I would say the main difference to a gas mower in how it cuts is that there is no vacuum created like in a gas mower, so taller grasses and thin grasses can be pushed over and missed by the reel. It actually works better in thick grass than thin straggly grass.
Mine works great on wide bladed grasses, clover, succulent weeds,etc. but once over a certain height, I have to go through with the swing blade first to get everything to about 4-5" height.


Since starting to use the reel mower though, my opinion on what constitutes a "good lawn" have changed. Actually, the concept of having any more lawn or grass areas than I really need has gone out the window. Instead of mowing big squares, I mow paths from section to section of the yard, everything else I have steered to trees, wild flowers and other vegetation.

The reel mower leaves behind straggly bits, flowers, clover,etc. If you have a grass related OCD (all blades must be the same height!) then I highly recommend you stay away from a reel mower.

All in all, I prefer the manual mower to my old gas mower- the maintenance time has gone down- It takes 15-20 minutes to sharpen the reel mower once or twice a year, and I put a little oil on moving parts from time to time. This is a lot easier than changing oil, purchasing and refilling gas, replacing bent blades, fixing throttle problems, cleaning out the air filter, etc.

When I want to mow, I push the mower out from under the car port and go. There is no gassing up, no checking oil, no yanking my arm off starting the engine. Much more convenient.
Also, being there is no engine, I can mow any time I want without disturbing anyone and I can hear the sounds of nature around me too.

 
Benjamin Bouchard
Posts: 185
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Screw the modern lawn paradigm! I love tools that run on breakfast.
 
Thea Olsen
Posts: 95
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Now I'm really curious about using a scythe for lawn mowing. Would that really work? I live in a suburb with a frustrating number of silly rules and if we don't keep our lawn mowed we'll get in trouble with the "Division of Property Standards."
 
Benjamin Bouchard
Posts: 185
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's one of several videos of me using mine.
 
Thea Olsen
Posts: 95
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
But all those videos show rural pasture, not suburban lawn. The city would come in and cut it themselves and fine us dearly before our lawn could get near that long.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
Posts: 185
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thea Olsen wrote:But all those videos show rural pasture, not suburban lawn. The city would come in and cut it themselves and fine us dearly before our lawn could get near that long.


Yes, but if I took video of me mowing the lawn rather than the back pasture you wouldn't be able to really see much going on due to the already relatively short length. It just wouldn't translate to video well. My lawn after scythe mowing essentially looks like a normal lawn, but maybe with a few days worth of post-trim growth. Nice and short, just not as even as a mechanical mower. However, if you use a European style scythe with an appropriate blade you'd likely get more consistent results than my American pattern, which is better suited to my conditions. The European style of scythe works best on uniform terrain (including hills--the ground just needs to be continuous and smooth rather than full of bumps) and light-to-medium grasses. There are plenty of videos of those on YouTube--I just happen to use an American one which is just as good, but designed for different circumstances of use.

 
C Quint
Posts: 19
Location: Northeast Tennessee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a Scott's reel mower that I got with hopes of mowing pathways, but it isn't working well at all for me. We have a lot of beds that have woodchip mulch on them, and I can't get anywhere near the garden bed with the mower for fear of the tiniest woodchip or 1mm twig getting caught in the mower. Maybe this is because I am 33 weeks pregnant, petite, and not strong enough to make it cut wood, but it is not working for me. I'm hoping it will get more use when I have converted all of my beds to living mulch and convince our trees to stop dropping twigs.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I went ahead and bought a fiskars stay-sharp because I found it used in good condition. We shall see.
 
Korey Pelton
Posts: 2
Location: Pocatello, Idaho
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a Craftsman Quiet Cut, 18-inch scissor action and I've been very happy with it. Here is a photo:



I just finished writing an article about my experiences with reel mowers on my blog. Thought it would be a good contribution to this thread. Enjoy! The Elegant, No-Engine, Reel Lawn Mower
 
Cris Bessette
gardener
Posts: 780
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
35
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Korey Pelton wrote:

I just finished writing an article about my experiences with reel mowers on my blog. Thought it would be a good contribution to this thread. Enjoy! The Elegant, No-Engine, Reel Lawn Mower


I also had the handle break off of mine. The light gauge metal handle was the only thing I did not like on my mower.

I actually replaced it with the heavy duty handle off my old broken gas mower. A little bending and redrilling a few holes and it fit perfectly.
 
Korey Pelton
Posts: 2
Location: Pocatello, Idaho
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds like the handle is the first thing to go on modern reel mowers. The photos in my article show the replacement handle off of the old mower mounted onto the body of the modern mower. That thing is made out of some seriously thick metal and will probably last forever!
 
Joshua Finch
Posts: 64
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just thought I'd throw this out there- Scotts is a Monsanto company. Not to say that if you have one of their mowers that you should turn it in, but I just have a feeling that more people should know who owns them and who ultimately benefits from any purchases of their products.
 
Luke Burkholder
Posts: 42
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This seems like a good thread to post my question about a reel mower: How do you sharpen/maintain it? How do you adjust it, and when do you know that it is properly adjusted?

Every resource I have come across starts out by saying: "I'm going to show you how to sharpen a reel mower yourself, but don't do it yourself, or you'll cut yourself and then your heirs will sue me after your inevitable death." After that, they are not usually helpful.

So can someone point me to a good resource for this? I promise not to sever a limb or cut into my femoral artery. I have a Scott's Classic.
 
Marj Baker
Posts: 10
Location: Ontario, Canada
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I bought a sharpening kit for my reel mower, the hardest part was getting a wheel off to crank the reel, I still have all my digits and the mower is sharp.
I love my reel mower for my small lawn, quiet, low maintenance, no fossil fuel.

a video showing how to sharpen is here:

http://youtu.be/ABLKMt_QyOE

http://youtu.be/1XlsQNITgX8
 
The world's cheapest jedi mind trick: "Aw c'mon, why not read this tiny ad?"
Learn, Design, Teach, & Inspire with Permaculture games.
FoodForestCardGame.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!