Author Topic: Reel mowers?  (Read 11121 times)

JeffC

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Reel mowers?
« on: March 07, 2015, 10:38:30 PM »
I have a lawn that is mostly a bed of pine needles because it is a forest floor, and then a there's a layer of moss on clay where there isn't pine needles. There is maybe 300 square feet of actual grass.  As a condition of my lease, I maintain the yard.  For the last two years I have just used weed whacker, but I spend more time just trying to get the thing to start than it takes to weed back all the grass.  Due to not even using 1 quart of gas in 2 years, the gas went bad and sort of wrecked the weedwacker, so it is now time to get something else.  I hate the thought of owning a big gas lawn mower because it would be even more susceptible to gas going bad and ruining the motor.  So I was thinking of getting a reel mower.  Any experience? Any recommendations?  Any warnings?

Thanks!

FIreDrill

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2015, 10:59:35 PM »
I bought a reel mower last year after we bought our first house.  Found it on craigslist for like 75 bucks I think.  So far it has worked great, a little difficult on hills but every mower is.  I think I had to adjust the blades once during the summer in order to get a better cut but other than that it has been maintenance free.

http://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-Staysharp-Reel-Mower-18-Inch/dp/B0045VL1OO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425794164&sr=8-1&keywords=fiskar+reel+mower

This is the one I got and I have no complaints after 1 year of use.

MikeBear

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Argyle

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2015, 11:41:33 PM »
Love my reel mower.  The only caveat is that you can't let the grass get too high (like, 6"+), or the mower will just flatten it rather than cutting it.  So you need to mow regularly and not let things get out of hand.

libertarian4321

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2015, 12:35:43 AM »
On short grass, they are fine.

On long grass, or grass with lots of twigs, they suck.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2015, 08:37:20 AM »
I prefer the peace and quiet. I also like how it doesn't toss dust into the air. I don't think I could go back to a gas mower, hopefully you find it preferable too.

I have to mow weekly, my mower adjust from 1-4". It's best to trim only an inch at a time so it mulches better. If you're going away then cut it extra short.

I haven't kept great records. However after 5 years I've saved substantially on gas and oil (annual oil change and maintenance). At this point my savings might be greater than my initial purchase price and the mower has plenty of years left.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2015, 08:40:56 AM by Prairie Practicality »

RetiredAt63

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2015, 08:47:16 AM »
If you have pine needles and other detritus in the lawn area, do not go for the reel mower.  Reel mowers work best on perfect lawns.  If the lawn is close to an electrical outlet, I would get an electric (corded) string trimmer.  If not, I would get a battery operated string trimmer.  They are both much lighter than a gas-powered trimmer, and are all you need for that small an area.  FWIW, I have both - the battery operated one was bought first, and now the batteries don't hold enough charge and take forever to charge, so I have gone with the corded version.  So nice - I cut until I am tired or the job is done, not until the batteries die.

Learner

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2015, 08:53:55 AM »
I use one here, we have a crab apple tree on our small lawn out front.  While the crab apples aren't too bad, the twigs are brutal.

Height can be an issue like some said above.

Also, I find you need to bring going at a reasonable speed to get a good cut.  A leisurely stroll won't get the blades spinning fast enough, you need at least a brisk walk.  On really thick sections, I just push forward, lift up and pull back, etc.  Even with this, it doesn't take long to do the yard.

Blake12

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2015, 08:54:40 AM »
My Sears reel mower is 10 years old and still works great! No maintenance except washing it off once in a while. I do have a rechargeable string edger for the hard to get areas.

10dollarsatatime

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2015, 10:54:05 AM »
I like reel mowers.  My dad used to have a tendency to pick up more stuff from the dump than he dropped off.  And he always picked these up.  Keep the blades nice and sharp.  They aren't too difficult to use.

Also.  Your weed whacker is probably not 'wrecked'.  I would wager that a can of carb cleaner and a carburetor gasket kit will fix it right up.  It's amazing how many small engines get chucked because of a gunked up carb.

ToughMother

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2015, 10:59:09 AM »
I have a reel lawn mower too.  If you're not anal about grass cutting and you don't have a lot, it is just fine. $75 (new from amazon) used it for the last 6 seasons. easy peasy. 

madamwitty

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2015, 11:05:19 AM »
+1 to electric string trimmer. Works way better than a reel mower on my lumpy grass area under an oak tree (lots of leaves and occasional sticks.)

Mine came with 2 batteries, but I usually only have one charged at a time. It's not always enough to do my whole lawn at once, so I just split up the work over multiple days.

startingsmall

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2015, 06:44:47 PM »
I used one at our old house, where we had a very tiny yard, and LOOOOVED it.  No noise, no stink, no nasty hot cloud of exhaust to stand in.... loved it!!!  Like a previous poster said, you do have to keep up with mowing because the reel mower won't work in tall grass.  Still, it was so much easier and so much more pleasant to just pull the reel mower out of the shed and go (vs. lugging out a heavy mower, checking gas, pull-starting it, etc) that I never minded mowing more frequently. 

I had this one - http://www.homedepot.com/p/Scotts-Scott-s-16-inch-Walk-Behind-Push-Reel-Lawn-Mower-415-16S/100540960?N=5yc1vZc5av   (Well, I still have it... but our current yard is 5.25 acres and therefore I don't use it!!  Can't quite bring myself to part with it, though.)

catccc

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2015, 06:58:44 PM »
Really love ours!  The occasional twig can be annoying, but the ease of use far outweighs any cons.  Quiet, not stinky,  and I feel like it's safe enough to have my little kids running around me while I use it.  DH wasted so much time jut trying to get the gas one started, and it smelled terrible and we both felt the kids should be inside while the job was done due to the fumes and not-quick-to-stop fast spinning blades...  Anyway, definitely a fan.  We do need something else (weed whacking thing) for some spots that the reel mower can't get to, but it does the majority of the yard well.

CommonCents

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2015, 08:33:16 PM »
We got one when we moved into our house last year because it would have no/low maintenance, be quiet!, and it was better for the lawn.  I spoke with my friend who had bought one on the other side of the country and we agreed we had similar size yards, so we were astonished when it took us significantly longer to mow our lawn (about 6x), which was frustrating for DH.  When we visited this summer while out for a wedding, we realized they may have similar sized lot, but the yards to mow were not the same because they had a scrubby hill (no grass) and gravel side yard.  Ours was also on a hill which makes it harder to mow.

In general, it's been ok, though it takes longer than we thought it would.  DH ran over a branch once and had to readjust the blades though, and it's never been the same cutting the yard since then he says.  So having lots of branches around might not be great.

In reading up on them it seems the quality of the mower really affects satisfaction so we went with fiskars.

Stache In Training

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2015, 09:03:21 PM »
i got one at ace, the only one they sell.  it has been basically maintenance free, and it comes with a sharpening kit, which i only had to use after like 3 years.  they recommend every year, which probably would make it cut better. 

If you have a flat yard, then there's nothing better.  no gas, no gas smell, it's healthier for your grass and you, and you can hold a conversation with someone else while you're doing it, so you family can be out enjoying the yard at the same time.  Reel mowers are pretty awesome.

JLee

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2015, 10:04:06 PM »
I have one and I don't like it at all. I have a lot of desert weeds mixed in with in my grass and it is almost impossible to cut.

KCM5

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2015, 07:51:17 AM »
We have the Fiskars one posting up top. It's really great. Had it 3 years, no issues other than what is inherent to a reel mower - you have to mow more often. We ended up also buying a corded electric trimmer to touch up when we've left it too long.

However, if I were in your situation and had to mow 300 scrubby square feet, I would get a corded electric trimmer. If you do decide to get a battery one make sure you're buying a high quality battery thats not going to go flat soon. I haven't priced them recently, but with advances in battery technology they're probably not to bad now.

FarmerPete

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2015, 08:03:42 AM »
You could also go with a real mower that's electric.  It uses a cord, but will get away from the gas issue.  Will be crazy quick with such a small yard.  I'd get one, but it is a bit more expensive ($150 for the one below) and will require more storage space than a weed whip.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/BLACK-DECKER-15-in-10-Amp-Walk-Behind-Corded-Electric-Mower-EM1500/204982100

spokey doke

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2015, 08:26:55 AM »
On short grass, they are fine.

On long grass, or grass with lots of twigs, they suck.

+1, so you really need to stay on top of it

I've tried more than one of these, including models that were claimed to be superior in every way, and still had lots of issues (because I let the grass go a bit too far and had twigs and things in the lawn.  This, despite being mechanically inclined and used to physical exertion.

I'd lean toward an electric mower, or an electric string trimmer.

Jack

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2015, 09:13:39 AM »
How well do reel mowers cope with yards of the "mixed weeds" variety (e.g. crabgrass, dandelions, etc.)?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2015, 09:24:43 AM »
How well do reel mowers cope with yards of the "mixed weeds" variety (e.g. crabgrass, dandelions, etc.)?

Mine does fine. It's an antique. It also handles pine needles without an issue. Twigs do get caught sometimes, but compared to the frustration of gas or electric it's nothing. And the quiet is awesome.

Cookie78

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2015, 10:24:34 AM »
I've used one for the last few years. My yard is mostly weeds (dandelions) and it does fine when I force it through. Sometimes I have to go over the area twice if there are thick weeds. I sharpen the blades and clean it at the beginning of each season. Love the quiet.

FLBiker

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2015, 10:41:25 AM »
I used one for two years, then I broke down and got a corded electric mower.  I absolutely love my electric mower.  I got this one for $130 on Amazon: http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0078KWAL2/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1  It's $140 now.

FL grass is tough, it grows fast, and we've got twigs (and large pinecones) that jammed up the reel mower.  It worked OK, but it was never great.  I'd try one again if I had delicate grass without a lot of trees overhead, though.

JLee

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2015, 10:53:28 AM »
I used one for two years, then I broke down and got a corded electric mower.  I absolutely love my electric mower.  I got this one for $130 on Amazon: http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0078KWAL2/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1  It's $140 now.

FL grass is tough, it grows fast, and we've got twigs (and large pinecones) that jammed up the reel mower.  It worked OK, but it was never great.  I'd try one again if I had delicate grass without a lot of trees overhead, though.
Ooh. I might have to get one of those - the bag will be a lifesaver and keep me from fishing grass clippings out of my pool.

pdxvandal

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2015, 11:05:18 AM »
Bought a 1970s Scotts model  (made of all metal parts) off Craigslist 15 years ago and have never looked back. Sharpen it every two years and that's it. Quiet, calorie burner and no extra trips to the gas station.

KiloRomeo

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2015, 11:23:53 AM »
I have one of the Fiskars one as mentioned above. It's a love hate relationship. I'll echo what others said about great for lawns in great shape. Unfortunately my yard is mostly weeds (I rent) and the weeds grow very fast. If they get too tall, I need to go around with my electric weed wacker to get them. The other thing that bothers me is I've had it for just over a year and it's kind of falling apart already.

Argyle

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2015, 03:56:36 PM »
Mine is from the American Lawn Mower Company, based in Shelbyville, Indiana, and it's great. 

https://www.reelin.com/AboutUs.aspx

I've had it about 20 years with no problems.

Stache In Training

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Re: Reel mowers?
« Reply #28 on: March 10, 2015, 09:15:24 PM »
On short grass, they are fine.

On long grass, or grass with lots of twigs, they suck.

+1, so you really need to stay on top of it

I've tried more than one of these, including models that were claimed to be superior in every way, and still had lots of issues (because I let the grass go a bit too far and had twigs and things in the lawn.  This, despite being mechanically inclined and used to physical exertion.

I'd lean toward an electric mower, or an electric string trimmer.


Yeah, twigs can get in the way, but with such a small yard, you can easiy pick them up.  I just thrown them into my fire pit, and then enjoy a s'more afterwards.   If you let it get too long, you can always ask to borrow your less mustachian neighbor's mower for a day.