Reasons why you might like a reel mower

1. Reel mowers are mechanically simple.

With a reel mower, there’s no starter cord to yank, spark plugs to clean, or batteries to change. Have you ever stood in your front yard on a really hot day, sweating like crazy as you yanked and yanked on the cord of a gas mower that just wont start? By the time you get the mower started, you’re probably too worn out to do any mowing!

Well, with a manual reel mower, there’s almost nothing that can go mechanically wrong with it. There’s no engine. It’s just some wheels and a few gears that turn the blades and cut the grass. You push, and it mows.

There’s no need to keep gasoline or oil in the garage, and there’s no risk that the lawn mower will blow up or catch fire. You don’t need to be a mechanic (or pay a mechanic) to make adjustments. And when you mow with a reel mower, there’s no danger of hitting someone with shrapnel. Your pets and kids will appreciate this, because dodging rock chips flying at ballistic speed is no fun.

2. Reel mowers are quiet.

Saturday mornings are my time to sleep in. I put the phone off the hook, unplug the alarm, and snuggle up with a pillow. So, it really ruins my day when my neighbors fire up their lawnmower at the crack of dawn. It’s even worse when they hire a leaf blower quartet from the landscaping company.

Don’t be that neighbor. You know, the one who everyone resents for ruining their weekend. Those are the neighbors who never get invited to barbeques, who find snow mysteriously shoveled onto their sidewalk, and who get burning bags of dog poo on their doorstep every Halloween. Instead, you can use a quiet reel mower and let everyone sleep in. Or, if you prefer neighbors storming your house with pitchforks, you could use a gas powered mower.

Gas mowers are classified as Extremely Loud. That’s just one step under the highest level of Painful. Bear in mind – if any of my neighbors start using jet engines to mow their yards at 6am, there’s not a jury in the country that would convict me of manslaughter.

3. Reel mowers are environmentally friendly.

Do you have a gas powered mower with a two-stroke engine? You know, the ones that take a blend of gasoline and oil in the fuel tank? If so, then you’re about to be surprised by how much pollution comes from old gas mowers! Even though the engine is tiny and they only use a small amount of gasoline, running a lawnmower for an hour put out as much air pollution as driving a sedan for 200 hours. New lawnmowers are fortunately a lot cleaner burning, but they still put out as much or more pollution than a car.

4. Reel mowers don’t blow exhaust, dirt and dust into your face as you mow.

Reel mowers have very simply emissions – grass clippings and nothing else. There’s no engine exhaust, and mulch holds down dust while fertilizing the yard. Even if you run the mower over pebbles or small rocks, the slow moving blades aren’t going to throw rocks.

I still remember an event from my teenage years involving a worn out gasoline mower that blew terrible smelling blue-gray smoke. I breathed in so much exhaust while I was pushing it that I puked right in the middle of mowing. Afterwards I had a terrible headache and it felt like I’d been poisoned.

My younger brother figured out how to get out of lawnmowing duties – he deliberately ran over all of the water hoses and ruined them all, so that he would be considered too incompetent to be allowed to mow again. To this day, I haven’t forgiven him for pulling that off! And then there’s the time where I the mower kicked up a rock that flew right past my neighbor, barely missing his head.

Good times.

Are reel lawnmowers easy to push?

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About « Reel Mowers
02.21.09 at 12:22 am

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 brett 06.07.11 at 3:16 pm

This website is disappointing. I came here looking for advice on proper mowing techniques and other tips. After reading through about 7 or 8 pages, I have concluded that this is mostly a “hater” blog. There is more info on how to hate power mowers than truly use your own reel mower. Its a smear campaign! While I love my reel mower and am glad to be doing my part in keeping the air pollution free, I’m not going to associate my break-from-the-norm with a true disdain towards those who choose gas. The last thing we need in this world is another polarizing issue.

2 Nathan 05.03.12 at 5:34 am


While I realize your post is ages old, for the love of cain! Could you have allow a bit of humor into your life while looking into other ways to cut your lawn?

I have found this site so far to be a light-hearted enlightening read with just enough angst thrown in towards the “toxin-belching gas demons.”

Please tell me that you don’t mow your lawn with your cain in one hand, the mower in the other so you can spit sardonic epitaphs at the neighbors with their infernally loud lawn cutting machines.

A little hint as your drift on your dingy through this languorous journey we call the daily slog: ” Do it with a smile, and being different from the norm is a damned fun way to get it done.”

3 JeanO 07.30.12 at 1:33 am

Good Times…I am inspired…pulled one of these rusty ole beauties out of the trash, sprayed and presto….away I went. Good job & great work out!

4 Spenser 09.20.13 at 3:52 am

Now, I guess I’m on both sides… All of my equipment is old! I have been running a 1913 roller bearing Pennsylvania Mower Co. 20″ For as long as I can remember… But the Reo Holiday 18 makes a fine mower for the tall grass.. Though it is a 2 cycle. If you wanna mow in style… Try the ’68 Wheel Horse electro 12… Frankly, I think people diss the gas mowers too much!

5 bob 06.22.14 at 3:28 pm

I notice there’s NO mention about how ALL reel mowers simply pass over dandelion stems… misses cutting them COMPLETELY

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