Many of today’s new homeowners are looking for environmentally friendly solutions to yard maintenance. Reel lawn mowers are not a new idea, but they are gaining in popularity. Environmentally conscious homeowners are giving up their self-propelled, petroleum-powered mowers for the old-fashioned, muscle-powered versions in record numbers.
Reel lawnmowers differ from typical lawnmowers in several important ways. Invented in 1830 by Edwin Budding, the manual push mower allowed even the middle class to maintain a lawn easily. Mr. Budding’s lawnmower didn’t have an engine and was self-propelled the old-fashioned way, you propelled it yourself. The design is fairly simple; several blades are mounted on a circular frame. The blades spin around, perpendicular to the ground, cutting the grass as they pass. Early models were made of steel and were quite heavy and difficult to push. Today’s lighter plastics and metals make the newer reel mowers much easier to use than their predecessors.
Reel mowers are attractive to environmentally conscious homeowners for several reasons. First, they don’t use gasoline and oil, so they have no harmful emissions. Accidents are less frequent with reel lawnmowers as well. Once the user stops pushing them, the blades stop spinning. Engine-powered lawnmowers cause millions of accidents annually, but accidents caused by reel mowers are far less frequent, and usually much less severe.
Reel mowers are typically less expensive to purchase and maintain than engine mowers, making them attractive to the budget-conscious consumer. Upkeep consists of a little lubricant and occasional blade sharpening. Initial purchase prices are a fraction of the souped-up rotary mowers on the market today. Manual push mowers are great for exercise as well, with many users substituting a good lawn mowing session for one of their weekly jogs.
Another benefit of using a reel mower is noise reduction. Except for the occasional grunt of the user, these mowers are virtually silent. Grass cutting at midnight and early in the morning without disturbing the neighbors is a possibility with reel mowers.
Of course, there are disadvantages to these manual mowers. Their operation requires a lot more effort than gas or electric-powered mowers, and they aren’t as easy to maneuver. Reel mowers don’t typically collect your cuttings and can’t cut twigs and sticks. In fact, sticks tend to jam the reel mechanisms. Manual mowers don’t cut tall grass or shred leaves as well as engine-powered mowers, so more frequent lawn maintenance and raking is required.
A reel lawnmower might not be the best choice for a 5-acre plot. But for today’s urban homeowner with a small yard, the benefits and cost savings of manual lawnmowers make it a green choice for lawn maintenance.