Author Topic: Reel mowers, what to look for?  (Read 10240 times)

MickeyMoustache

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Reel mowers, what to look for?
« on: March 25, 2016, 06:52:29 AM »
I'm looking to invest in a reel mower to start doing a small portion of my yard (dog area) before expanding to do the entire yard to see if its something that I can realistically do.  I see all sorts of rusted looking mowers on craigslist, anywhere from $30 to $150.  What should I be looking for?  I have about a 1/3rd acre.

CLB

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 07:29:44 AM »
Hey, I've been looking around too. Anything that was rusted should have a narrower price range, don't you think? $150 for a rusted reel mower? A new can be had for less than that.

Fishindude

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 07:29:54 AM »
What should I be looking for?  I have about a 1/3rd acre.

A push mower with a motor.
Used one of those reel mowers as a kid.  Won't ever use one again, they suck.

KCM5

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2016, 07:32:00 AM »
We had a fiskers reel mower for a couple of years. I think it was $150 new at Lowes? It mowed really well and I appreciated the design, but since it was our only mower we found it didn't mow the weedy bits well enough. We bought an electric and sold the fiskers on Craigslist - I think i listed it at $120?

Vertical Mode

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2016, 07:58:44 AM »
One important factor - WHERE is the rust? MMM mentioned in an article a while back how he found a reel mower in someone's trash that was perfectly fine except with a broken handle (he fabricated a new one, the badass). Anything with just a little surface rust can be sanded, primed, and painted, but if it looks like things aren't structurally sound, I'd leave it. Also, imagine when you're looking at these how easy they may be to clean/sharpen, as doing the regular maintenance will make it last many times longer.

jda1984

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2016, 08:02:52 AM »
We have a reel mower that I use, but have a much smaller yard (~0.1 acres).  My Dad bought it in the 90s and I have since decided to use it as my parents use a lawn service now.

I don't know what to look for, but this one has worked well for 20+ years.  I did sharpen the blade recently (put some lapping compound on the reel and reverse the gearing to get a new edge).  It does what we need it to.  If you let your grass get too long though it tends to bend it over and not cut (at least on the first try), so more regular mowing is required.  The brand we have is American.

CmFtns

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2016, 08:12:49 AM »
I think the problem with reel mowers is that you don't have many options if your yard gets out of control at any point... I don't think a reel mower would work for me because I just let the yard go wild for a month or two at a time and then reel it back in with a giant yard work Saturday.

I bought a plug in electric mower on craigslist for $50 and a cheap electric string trimmer for $30 online and that does the job well... I have 1/2 acre

MickeyMoustache

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2016, 08:30:51 AM »
Thanks for the responses.  I'm really looking to downsize from my ride-on mower that is over overkill for 1/3 acre.  It also takes up way too much space in the garage making it hard to get 2 vehicles in the garage.  I also have a snowblower I'm looking to downsize and just shovel instead, though maybe I should hold off on this stuff until I end up downsizing my property as well (Ohio -> NC in the next couple of years).  Tough decisions.

CmFtns

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2016, 08:37:10 AM »
I think if I already owned a riding mower and was moving that soon that I would just keep it... but I also have a shed with tons of extra storage so depends on how eager you are to free up space.

I'm thinking you might want to try to borrow a reel mower to see if you really want to go that route before you go all in and sell your riding mower... I know that hard work builds character and all that but if I could knock out the yard real quick then I would have more time for other more fulfilling diy projects... to me mowing a yard gets old pretty fast... That's one of the reasons I let the yard go so long between cuttings lol I procrastinate

MickeyMoustache

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2016, 09:15:57 AM »
I think if I already owned a riding mower and was moving that soon that I would just keep it... but I also have a shed with tons of extra storage so depends on how eager you are to free up space.

I'm thinking you might want to try to borrow a reel mower to see if you really want to go that route before you go all in and sell your riding mower... I know that hard work builds character and all that but if I could knock out the yard real quick then I would have more time for other more fulfilling diy projects... to me mowing a yard gets old pretty fast... That's one of the reasons I let the yard go so long between cuttings lol I procrastinate

Yeah, that's why I was looking for cheap options on craigslist to try it out in a 20x20 patch of grass first.  I'm not really too concerned about 40 bucks, especially as an experiment and I won't sell my mower until I know for sure I can get by with less.

BlueMR2

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2016, 05:18:15 AM »
I picked up a new reel mower back 6 years ago for $100.  I can't imagine prices have gone up on them much since then.  As mentioned above, they don't work as well if you let your yard get totally out of control.  It'll still work, but will take a couple extra mowings before it's smooth again (it's happened to me a couple times when it would rain so much that I couldn't mow for way too long).  I kept my power mower for the first 4 years, but just never needed it.  Gave it to a friend.  I don't miss it at all.

Christiana

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2016, 09:19:25 PM »
To answer your actual question, look at:

Rust:  surface rust you can deal with, but a rust-pitted surface isn't good, especially on the cutting edges.
Cutting edges:  are they smooth, or are there nicks or bits rusted out?
Cutting and alignment:  if you flip it over and spin the reel by hand as you push a strip of paper between the reel and the fixed cutting edge, will it cut cleanly, or not even cut at all? Is the cutting action even across the whole width of the reel? Somewhere on this forum there's a post about how to align a reel mower for closeness and straightness of cutting, so this is fixable, IF the alignment screws aren't rusted in place too badly (or the reel too worn down, I guess).  Often re-alignment will fix cutting problems; reel mowers don't need to be sharpened very often.
Rotation:  Push it around, is there some stiffness in how the reel turns? Does it look like something that a little oil would cure?
Ergonomics: is this something you really want to push around on the lawn for a long time?

Basically, is the mower mechanically able to actually cut grass, with or without a little work on your part (to catch up on neglected maintenance), and is it worth it to you for the price?  $100-$150 would get you a brand-new one that you could resell at a small loss, if you didn't like it.

Also, for downsizing the snowblower, I'd recommend a big pushable metal snow scoop, aka "Yooper scooper", it's a lot easier than shoveling.

Daley

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2016, 09:37:12 PM »
Somewhere on this forum there's a post about how to align a reel mower for closeness and straightness of cutting, so this is fixable, IF the alignment screws aren't rusted in place too badly (or the reel too worn down, I guess).  Often re-alignment will fix cutting problems; reel mowers don't need to be sharpened very often.

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/i-made-a-guide-for-mustachians-on-how-to-align-the-blades-for-a-reel-mower/

KCM5 mentioned Fiskars, and their 18" reel mower is currently $200 new. I'd looked around at a few used reel mowers in the area, and finally bit the bullet and just bought new a few weeks back. Paying the price premium for the Fiskars was well worth it, and the added mass and gearing on the blades helps immensely. Granted, just keeping a reel mower tuned up and cared for goes a long way on keeping it easy to use and avoiding binding and bogging down, but overall engineering and design helps too. If you can find one used as mowing season starts to kick into higher gear, it'll go for a bit more, but worth it both on resale if it doesn't work out and using if you plan on finding it a workable solution.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2016, 09:38:55 PM by I.P. Daley »

coolistdude

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2016, 10:46:42 PM »
I bought Scott's Classic 20" on Amazon a few months ago. It was normally about $120, but we bought a repackaged one for under $80 and applied for the $50 discount with a credit card. With shipping and tax the total was under $40. I later sold my non-working gas mower (not an easy fix for a guy that doesn't like gas powered tools) for $40. Pricewise, that was a win.

As far as the product goes, it is good. I am on a small 1/8 acre lot. The front yard is pretty much tamed, but the backyard is a bit of a nightmare no matter what mower I have. There's a combination of thick clump grass and tree roots designed by Satan himself. The front became tamed after 4+- mows (it was very long due to me physically being unable to mow and some rain). The backyard is almost tame. It has just been neglected by previous tenants for years.

I did need a narrow wrench to tighten the small wheel back on (I just happened to have one! Thanks dad!!) when I was trying to get the backyard to submit. Sometimes it gets grass tied around the ends of the reel. If it is long grass I have to cut it out with my fingers or loosen it. If it is short grass a hose will do the job. Unlike a regular mower where the blades come almost to the edge of the perimeter of the unit, a reel mower needs more hedge work. Try harder to avoid the heat of the sun unless you are looking for a workout.

A few things I learned that help me mow:
  • Mow thicker sections a little bit slower
  • Mow your lanes with redundancy. Not end to end with completely separate lanes
  • For thicker sections, turn around and re-mow the lane you just completed
  • Wash out your reel if it is tying or giving you resistance.
  • Above all, do not let your grass get out of control!!
  • Tighten your handle/connections periodically before they become loose.

Rollin

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2016, 05:19:51 AM »
We had a fiskers reel mower for a couple of years. I think it was $150 new at Lowes? It mowed really well and I appreciated the design, but since it was our only mower we found it didn't mow the weedy bits well enough. We bought an electric and sold the fiskers on Craigslist - I think i listed it at $120?

+1 works great. Got mine used for $80. The design is smart, as the blades don't touch other metal so they stay sharp. Also the wheels are behind the cutting edge so you can get closer to objects (and the grass gets cut before getting run over by the wheels).

FLBiker

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2016, 02:39:23 PM »
I did our 1/4 acre with a reel mower for a few years (I think it was ~$100?) but I didn't love it.  It got hung up on sticks and pine cones all the time, and I found it didn't perform well if the grass got long.  I bought a plug-in electric ($120) and I like it much better.  I gave the reel mower to a friend who recently moved into a townhouse.

retiringearly

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2016, 02:41:49 PM »
What should I be looking for?  I have about a 1/3rd acre.

A push mower with a motor.
Used one of those reel mowers as a kid.  Won't ever use one again, they suck.

As a kid I hated our reel mower with a passion.  The thing weighed more than I did.  Getting it up to speed was brutal, then a thick twig would get caught in the blades and it would come to a screeching halt.

patrat

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2016, 01:01:55 PM »
If you insist on going reel mower, try to get the fiskars. The nice one, they have a few models. Look on craigslist using keyword "fiskars", you might find one. I have a 1/2 acre lot here in NJ, all grass with normal lawn weeds. The reel mower can not cut any stems from dandelion or plantain, they get too tall too fast, and just lay over when the mower passes and pop up after. Also, thick patches of grass can jam the reel or making the bedknife skip out of the way (mine is spring loaded). The mower I have is a husqvarna novocut that I get for cheap on craigslist, nothing special to it, not recommended over any other unless CHEAP. McClane reel mowers look like the heavy duty version of the design Fiskars ripped off. With this mower, assuming the weeds are not up and the grass is the right length, I can mow the yard in about 3 hours.  With a push gas mower it takes 1 hour.  I also had a riding mower when I moved here (single blade, small john deere) and found the gas push mower was the same speed if I hustled.
If I were investing right now in a mower, for this situation, I would get the Ego brand mower with a nice size battery pack. They look awesome, but no I do not have one. I am going to keep using the combo of reel mower and gas push mower till I move, then they go to Craig.

For string trimmer I own and love the Core Outdoor Power trimmer. Sadly, they were purchased by a bigger company and appear to be mothballed. If you are OK with that they are still in stock some places, and who knows the brand may be resurrected yet. The Ego brand trimmer looks decent. I could not find a human powered equivalent for a string trimmer. I think the answer is string trimmer, livestock, or landscaping for the edges. Shears (scissors) are too slow, even the big ones meant for hedges.




Chranstronaut

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2016, 08:47:29 AM »
I have a Scott's 18 push mower from Home Depot.  It was $80 when I bought it last year, currently on sale for a bit cheaper http://www.homedepot.com/p/Scotts-18-in-Deluxe-Reel-Mower-815-18S/100575184

The mower should move very easily and require only small or moderate effort when mowing.  If it's hard, your mower is clogged, rusted, misaligned or your trying to cut too much grass at once. 

Like other folks have said, plan to re-mow areas if you don't keep up on it.  I imagine I am giving a buzz cut when I use it and make sure to overlap my sections.  It's great on short and even lawns.  My lawn is fairly small. 

My only complaints are that it doesn't handle uneven or patchy terrain well and it can't cut dandelion stems -- it just folds them over and chops the heads off.

Always clean and oil the blades when finished and they've stayed sharp so far.

Rollin

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2016, 05:06:56 AM »
I know you asked about reel mowers, but I did purchase an Ego battery powered mower last year and love it. Quiet, smooth, and light weight.

MickeyMoustache

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2016, 07:16:20 AM »
How does it handle tall grass / yard size?  And how long does it need to charge for?

BlueHouse

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2016, 11:45:05 AM »
What should I be looking for?  I have about a 1/3rd acre.

A push mower with a motor.
Used one of those reel mowers as a kid.  Won't ever use one again, they suck.
My grandmother used a reel mower to mow roughly 1/4 acre.  She was well into her eighties when she gave in and bought an electric push mower.  She was a total badass!  My grandfather BTW, was indoor sitting in his chair watching the whole time. She just liked to do it! 

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2016, 02:11:14 PM »
I bought as reel mower last summer and really tried to use it a few times. But it was just not capable of cutting the weeds. It does excellent on the grass though.

I ended up using a friends gas mower a few times.

This year, my friend came and cut it for the first cut. I tried using the reel mower again yesterday - weeds and grass are at reasonable heights - and it just doesn't perform. I can't cut the weeds. It just pushes them over.

I think I'm going to look into an electric mower before I end up getting in trouble with the HOA and have to pay for lawn service.

:( feel like I failed on the reel mower to be honest.

misshathaway

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2016, 06:40:46 AM »
I bought as reel mower last summer and really tried to use it a few times. But it was just not capable of cutting the weeds. It does excellent on the grass though.

I ended up using a friends gas mower a few times.

This year, my friend came and cut it for the first cut. I tried using the reel mower again yesterday - weeds and grass are at reasonable heights - and it just doesn't perform. I can't cut the weeds. It just pushes them over.

I think I'm going to look into an electric mower before I end up getting in trouble with the HOA and have to pay for lawn service.

:( feel like I failed on the reel mower to be honest.

This is not encouraging. I have an old rusty one I was going to sharpen and revive. Had a lawn service while I was working.

What with the SNOW IN APRIL here in MA I haven't been too motivated. Now I am even more leaning toward a cordless electric wuss machine that will actually work.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2016, 06:59:58 AM »
I bought as reel mower last summer and really tried to use it a few times. But it was just not capable of cutting the weeds. It does excellent on the grass though.

I ended up using a friends gas mower a few times.

This year, my friend came and cut it for the first cut. I tried using the reel mower again yesterday - weeds and grass are at reasonable heights - and it just doesn't perform. I can't cut the weeds. It just pushes them over.

I think I'm going to look into an electric mower before I end up getting in trouble with the HOA and have to pay for lawn service.

:( feel like I failed on the reel mower to be honest.

This is not encouraging. I have an old rusty one I was going to sharpen and revive. Had a lawn service while I was working.

What with the SNOW IN APRIL here in MA I haven't been too motivated. Now I am even more leaning toward a cordless electric wuss machine that will actually work.

Yeah, I am sorry. I just wanted to be honest.

The forum convinced me to at least try one. I got it used, but unused and 'brand new', from Craigslist for like $70 or 80. I don't recall. Everyone in real life told me it won't do the job, they suck to use, etc. I thought everyone was just being complainypants, but in the end I do believe they were right.

Either way, I ended up having to use a lawn service twice last summer due to HOA violations. Each cut cost me $40, so $80 right there.

I blamed a lot of it on being a new yard, grass, etc and figured this year would go better.

At this point, I think it just makes more sense to get a gas or electric mower. If not, I'll surely end up spending more than a mowers price tag on lawn service.

Also, I don't even give a fuck about grass maintenance. I don't intend to have the nicest yard on the block or anything. So it's not because I'm overly picky myself or anything.

Miss Piggy

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2016, 07:10:12 AM »
When my husband and I bought our new (oldish) house, we brought over a reel mower I had purchased when I was in my previous house. One fine summer day, I brought it to the front yard and started mowing. My 70-something neighbor was staring and snickering and finally said "I'm waiting to see if you mow the whole yard with that."  ^%$#@#$ he was right. It was a sever pain in the butt. After about five rows, I gave up and went back to the garage for the gas mower.  We still have the reel mower...it's quite decorative hanging on some nails in the garage.

LadyMuMu

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2016, 07:52:38 AM »
I've used a reel mower at our current house for 4 years and I used one at a previous home for 2. I had a Brill before and now I have a Lowe's store brand. A reel mower does require pushing and its a nice little workout. But it isn't impossible. You want one that has adjustable heights and keep your grass on the longish side for best results. You need to just get in the habit of mowing regularly so you aren't bending the grass but actually cutting it.

Most people who have reel mowers do three things wrong:

1-They don't sharpen the blade at the beginning of the season. Take that thing to Ace and have them do it for you or get your own kit.

2-They don't clean and oil their machine after each use. Swipe out the damp clippings with an old paintbrush and spray with WD40. (in general people are hideous at maintaining their machines other than cars. When's the last time you cleaned and serviced your dishwasher for example?)

3-They don't clear their yard of mulch bits, sticks, pinecones etc. and just expect to run over them like with a gas mower. Not only will this jam your reel mower, it dulls the blade.

The pros of a reel mower:

1-You can skip your gym workout that day.
2-You can mow very early in the morning without bothering your neighbors.
3-Your little kids can play in the yard while you mow
4-Your slightly older kids can mow the yard at an earlier age safely
5-You can feel like an environmentally sensitive badass.

Every now and then, if we are out of town or the monsoon season hits, I'll borrow a neighbors power mower to reset the yard. I think it's happened 2 times in 4 years.

Also, if weeds are a big problem, you probably need to do some turf care. Aerate your lawn, put down an inch or two of compost, and overseed. Do this about once every 5 years or so. No chemicals in the runoff and your lawn will thank you for it.

Chranstronaut

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2016, 08:40:31 AM »

The pros of a reel mower:

1-You can skip your gym workout that day.
2-You can mow very early in the morning without bothering your neighbors.
3-Your little kids can play in the yard while you mow
4-Your slightly older kids can mow the yard at an earlier age safely
5-You can feel like an environmentally sensitive badass.

6-You start to consider getting rid of the whole damn lawn and just xeriscaping everything.  Or maybe just me?

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #28 on: April 07, 2016, 10:19:10 AM »
I've used a reel mower at our current house for 4 years and I used one at a previous home for 2. I had a Brill before and now I have a Lowe's store brand. A reel mower does require pushing and its a nice little workout. But it isn't impossible. You want one that has adjustable heights and keep your grass on the longish side for best results. You need to just get in the habit of mowing regularly so you aren't bending the grass but actually cutting it.

Most people who have reel mowers do three things wrong:

1-They don't sharpen the blade at the beginning of the season. Take that thing to Ace and have them do it for you or get your own kit.

2-They don't clean and oil their machine after each use. Swipe out the damp clippings with an old paintbrush and spray with WD40. (in general people are hideous at maintaining their machines other than cars. When's the last time you cleaned and serviced your dishwasher for example?)

3-They don't clear their yard of mulch bits, sticks, pinecones etc. and just expect to run over them like with a gas mower. Not only will this jam your reel mower, it dulls the blade.

The pros of a reel mower:

1-You can skip your gym workout that day.
2-You can mow very early in the morning without bothering your neighbors.
3-Your little kids can play in the yard while you mow
4-Your slightly older kids can mow the yard at an earlier age safely
5-You can feel like an environmentally sensitive badass.

Every now and then, if we are out of town or the monsoon season hits, I'll borrow a neighbors power mower to reset the yard. I think it's happened 2 times in 4 years.

Also, if weeds are a big problem, you probably need to do some turf care. Aerate your lawn, put down an inch or two of compost, and overseed. Do this about once every 5 years or so. No chemicals in the runoff and your lawn will thank you for it.

Cool, a lot of advice and experience.

Any ideas how to use a reel mower to cut through weeds?

That's the one thing nobody can answer. I'm an able bodied male. I had no issue pushing the reel mower around. I tried making 5 passes over the same patch of grass and weeds and the weeds just fold over. I tried adjusting the height from HIGH to MED to LOW and it still did not cut the weeds.

I don't have crazy overgrown weeds or anything.  It cuts grass just fine, but I can't get my weeds cut at all.

Also, if weeds are a big problem, you probably need to do some turf care. Aerate your lawn, put down an inch or two of compost, and overseed. Do this about once every 5 years or so. No chemicals in the runoff and your lawn will thank you for it.

My weeds aren't a huge problem, but how much time and money can a person spend on weeds?

I did buy some Scotts weed and feed and laid that down a couple days ago.

I did buy some cow manure, I need to get that down still, but I'll mostly be targeting patchy areas.

I can see all my neighbors yards - everyone either mows through the grass and weeds or pays for Scotts/Top Turf/etc to come spray chemicals. The chemical yards are the only ones that look decent.

I'm trying to do what I can. I was super excited about trying a reel mower, but just wanted to share my two cents. I don't think it's as easy as buying one and cutting the yard .


I apologize if I'm coming across as a negative nancy. I just want to share a different side because people on the forum try to say they use reel mowers without issues....

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #29 on: April 07, 2016, 12:29:27 PM »
What kind of weeds are you dealing with? Mine has no problem with dandelions and crabgrass, and I'm not a champion about maintaining the thing, either.

Trekker

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #30 on: April 07, 2016, 10:33:28 PM »
I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned using a scythe to mow their lawn. It quickly takes care of long grass and weeds.

Mowing
By Robert Frost

There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound—
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #31 on: April 13, 2016, 09:54:41 AM »
What kind of weeds are you dealing with? Mine has no problem with dandelions and crabgrass, and I'm not a champion about maintaining the thing, either.

A little google research says the main weed I'm struggling with is annual ryegrass.

Link to image -
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-e9vlAzSeduY/UXUWxyLCUlI/AAAAAAAACpk/-gYAhL2Mm_M/s1600/Slide1.JPG


Other than that, nothing else is really that bad. A little dandelion and some crabgrass.

Jesstache

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #32 on: April 13, 2016, 11:33:58 AM »
I got my reel mower from the local habitat for humanity restore for $15.  It's a scotts something or other, it was worth the $15 risk.  We have a small front yard, (maybe two 30X30 foot grassy areas).  I love using the reel mower I used it all of last summer and never touched our gas powered mower.  We also have two rental properties I do lawn maintenance on using the reel mower.  One has an even smaller yard than I do and takes about 15 minutes to mow, the other has about twice the size yard of ours.  All houses have juniper and pine trees so it is an absolute must to do a quick rake for twigs and pine cones before mowing, especially the first of the season.  In fact, I just did this at all three houses last week.  Also sold our old gas mower the other day, it had been about 2 years since it's seen any use so decided to free up the space.  For weeds and edges, I make a quick swipe with a cordless electric weed eater, which I also love.  It's a black and decker.

Now, I get serious enjoyment out of yard work so YMMV (although, ironically, I hate gardening).  I also live in a high desert climate where the grass just doesn't grow very quickly or thick so maybe that's why I haven't had any issues with using the reel mower and actually love it.  I also have not sharpened or oiled the blades once since I bought it, though I keep saying I should/will.

I am religious about mowing every week when it's rainy and every other week when it's dry (more often than not).  The reel mower is excellent because it allows me to do yard work while my children play only feet away, which is a must since they are with me all the time, and it's easy to load into the back of my SUV weekly to bring to the rental houses. 

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Reel mowers, what to look for?
« Reply #33 on: April 13, 2016, 12:23:04 PM »
Mine has no problem with ryegrass and usually just snaps twigs in half.

I have a "New Favorite" model from the "American Lawn Mower Company" of Muncie, Indiana. It might be from the 1950s or 1960s?