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Old 06-20-11, 12:24 PM   #41
Weed Dog
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Default How much lawn is too much?

S-F, your work history suggests the exertion induced by a reel mower is well within your capability. Is that lot 1/3 acre, minus the footprint of the garage, driveway, house, etc? If the the lawn is not too lumpy, the task (to this fifty-year-old guy) seems less strenuous than landscape work, and like X-Ringer suggested, mowing in 1/3 or similar increments makes it even more manageable.

Twigs, frost-heaved lot-line stakes and the like can jam the blades, so a quick survey and pick-up save you the frustration of stopping to clear them. Lumps and potholes can also stop the blades dead and are best avoided and trimmed by other means. My small front and side yards are filled with trees, twigs, lumps and potholes, and downspouts, but it does mean I'm often mowing in the shade...

You can imagine that a yard filed with trees and other obstructions requires more stopping/starting, i.e., you burn more calories, and if your climate favors humidity/heat, you guard against dehydration.

If you mow a day or two before having a yard party, you do allow time to rake up the clippings if it matters...

I suspect many viewers here have back-up means of mowing should the grass get too tall, and don't conceive of the task as “reel mow or no mow at all.” Plus the relatively low cost (excepting that Fiskars model) of new and used reel mowers, and their novelty value, mean you can resell it if it doesn't float your boat.

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Old 06-20-11, 01:21 PM   #42
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It's 80 outside, I'm 65 and just finished up spaying the back grass-tree line for deer-ticks
and other bloodsuckers, hauling 6 cinder blocks (200 pounds?) out to my fixed PV
array and cabling them onto the platform as ballast.

Then mowed the rest of the lawn in about 30 minutes. Turned out mowing was the easiest job of the day.

I'll tell you guys, I do not miss hearing that ICE motor roaring in my ears..
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Old 07-19-11, 01:37 PM   #43
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I just cut my lawn with a reel mower for the first time. That's 1/3 acre. I can't say how long it took since I spent a lot of time tinkering with the thing trying to get it adjusted. Also since we are in the middle of a small drought today's experience isn't telling of what it will be like after some good soaking rain and then steady mellow sun. I have to agree with everything previously said on the pros/cons of reel mowers. It didn't chop down the 12" + weeds which is a shame because it's what my yard is mainly comprised of.
Nice gadget. Personally I don't think I'd keep it but my wife says she will cut the lawn and wants to use it. That's fine with me. I have cut more lawn than any 20 or 30 people have in their entire lives and I'm ready to hang up my spurs.
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Old 07-19-11, 02:26 PM   #44
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Yes, some units need to be carefully adjusted -- but others have a spring tensioner and require almost nothing to work very well. The best one I have used is a Husqvarna. Another good one with a spring tensioner is the Gilmore 20". I wish Husqvarna made a wider model.

The Scott Classic is a screw adjusted unit, and it works better on thick/coarse grass than the Gilmore, but ya gotta' work at it a bit.
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Old 07-19-11, 02:43 PM   #45
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Yeah. Mine is an American lawnmower Company and it needs a bit of oomph as well as adjusting. I think I should probably sharpen the blades too.
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Old 07-20-11, 08:50 PM   #46
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I bought a Fiskars "Momentum" reel mower today and I heartily endorse it. You have to use this mower to understand and appreciate it's seemingly bass-ackwards design. The drive wheels being in the rear means they can't be lifted off the ground, and the frictionless reel doesn't touch the shear bar (though the grass does) and so the reel spins for a long time, and it is *very* quiet and very smooth.

I will try it on the really thick grass at the Quaker Meeting, but I'm guessing it will do fine. The reel is heavy and has a lot of momentum (hence the name). The handle is also very sturdy. The four wheels on the base move along the ground in a way that is quite different than other mowers.

It is quite different, but there is a reason; and the results speak for themselves.
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Old 07-23-11, 09:28 AM   #47
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It worked quite well -- I pushed it on 6 or 8 very long rows through the thickest grass in the big field, and it whirred right along. The conventional push mowers are nearly impossible to mow through that grass. It takes about as much effort to push as an non-propelled power mower. Pretty darn good for a push reel mower. It works as long as you stay ahead of the growth and don't let it get too long. And turning the Fiskars takes a different technique than usual; though this may be affected by the choice of which of the four holes you attach the handle with? I've used #1 and #3 so far.

I got it at Lowes for ~$200. You bolt the handle together, and attach it to the mower, and you're off and mowing. They've got some brief videos of this which are helpful.
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Old 07-23-11, 09:58 AM   #48
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The Fiskars is great.. However, I don't like the turning.. I've tried changing the handle height setting,
but it seems like the height that I want is kinda in-between the adjustments.
Now, it's in the lower position, and I have to push the handle down too dang low, and it's a pain in the back..
I do like the smooth cutting action and ease of use. I'm gonna assume my back
will get stronger with all the bike miles I've been putting on..

Since we've had this mower, we have not burned one drop of gas in a lawnmower.
But, after this heat wave is over (it just rained again), I'm going to see
if that old ICE mower will still start..
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Old 07-23-11, 07:26 PM   #49
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Oh you got rain Xringer!? Still none for us. My lawn is brown where there is still living grass. I made a pass with the reel mower the other day and that's all I've done to it in over 30 days. The only thing that has grown are the weeds and even they have stopped growing now. My mother has a grass whip for me but it's about 80 miles away (in Maynard of all places NeilBlanchard!) so the weeds will have to stay as they are for a while yet. The reel mower just passes right over them. I have found if I get up a little momentum, enough to keep the reel spinning, lift up one side and rest it over a weed it will suck it up. I'm not going to bother with that for a hundred or so weeds but one here and there is fine. This kind of drought happens in MA most years, at least for a little while. I have acute memories of cutting lawns with 3 blade 56" deck mowers in times like these and basically all that would come out of the chute was a massive cloud of dust. I started off taking my bandanna from my head and putting it over my mouth and nose. Eventually I moved to keeping it on my head and just wearing a dust mask. Those days are gone! The Reel mower doesn't suck up dry earth and make it airborne. It also doesn't atomize garbage that isn't biodegradable. Now I have to be responsible and rake/pick up that trash.
I don't think I'm going back to a gas mower ever again. Personally I don't care what my lawn looks like. If it wasn't so much work I'd tear it up and plant clover. If it gets too long here and there and the reel mower can't cope for a little while, so be it. I imagine that if you have a chemlawn though it's a different matter and you'd have to cut it 2 - 3 time a week which would bite. But then again, the sort of person with a chemlawn probably doesn't cut their own lawn much less use a reel mower.
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Old 07-23-11, 08:11 PM   #50
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With the handle in position #4 it gives the best turning, I think? I've used it again today for a bit over an hour and a half. It cuts amazingly well for a reel mower, and only requires minimal redoing.

Yes, we had a welcome surprise thunder-bumper this morning, and the temperature dropped to about 68F for a couple of hours. Nice relief, though it was quite humid and in the upper 80's I think, or low 90's? Very hot for mowing, anyway.

Tomorrow more mowing.

You may have to get a whip of your own? ;-) I'm sharing a electric strimmer with my mother-in-law, and she's about 12 miles away. And I use my electric mower and the new Fiskars at Friends Meeting, which is ~8 miles away.


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