Monday, July 28, 2014

Is a Reel Lawn Mower Right For You?

Hello Everyone! This week (lets be real it has been a few weeks) I want to talk about my reel lawn mower experience. I have contemplated purchasing a reel lawn know Grandad era, no motor, just blades spinning with your own power style lawn mower. Now I will be honest I have a lot of lawn...I know, not so 'green' but it is what it is for the time being. Due to the large amount of lawn I was more than a little scared of purchasing a reel mower only too find out I was too lazy or that it wasn't appropriate for MY yard. Well I decided to buck up and buy one. After reading reviews I settled on Fiskars StaySharp Max ..... it arrived and here we go...I will outline my experience so keep on reading.

Sidenote: After I purchased the reel lawn mower I am reviewing my grandpa found a neighbor with a borderline ancient reel mower in a shed he wasn't using AND...he GAVE it to me!! I was so excited. I love old things. I had wanted to find a used reel mower for the past month and just hadn't found one. Naturally two days after I make the purchase I get this little gem...

This might not be much to look at for most people but I loved it from the moment I saw it. I called around and found a gentleman to sharpen it for $50. 

Now I was on the fence about what I was going to do..

Do I keep both, return the newer one, keep the older reel mower and buy a gas mower???!! AAAAHHH I didn't know. 

But the other night I thought, I am just going to give this old gal a push across the lawn! I was not expecting it to cut a dang thing. WELL it just snipped that grass like it wasn't a thing. I was thrilled. Literally giddy with excitement. It was a little difficult on the uneven part of the yard (which I had read is the primary issue with reel lawn mowers) BUT I was overall extremely impressed with the performance of this rusty little thing. I ended up mowing the whole front lawn (which is pretty small) and was feeling like I was in even more of a conundrum. I decided to wait until my new one arrived and give it a try and compare the two and take it from there. 

Which brings us up to date 

Ok folks I got the mower I ordered from Home Depot, Fiskars StaySharp Max 18" Push Reel Lawn Mower. It was $199 and I had to order it online since they didn't have it in the stores near me. 

Here we go with my thoughts. 

#1- Was it Easy to Assemble? I would say yes it was pretty easy...for me not the easiest but it only required an 11mm socket so I suppose I cannot complain. 

#2 How Did it Mow???  First Mow...It must be declared I had not mowed my lawn in about 3 weeks! It was long!! Like long long. So I don't think this was the ideal cutting situation for a trial run. 

My first impression, I was excited. It is easy to push, I would say no more difficult than a regular gas mower. 

A little harder than a riding mower I will admit that!

When I got to the really thick parts of the lawn I did have to dig a little deeper to push it through, but again my lawn was like a foot tall. 

So as I moved through the lawn I did start to break a sweat. It was not exactly a walk in the park. By the end of the adventure I found if I really barreled across the lawn I was having the most success getting through those extra tall thick patches. This resulted in me feeling like I was a football player pushing one of those metal things across the field. It was no joke. I started to view it as a workout, sprinting across the lawn and I personally liked it...but this was the first time.

Due to the speed at which I was going (granted not super fast, more like a really fast snail) and the lawn height 

The look was a little more than shagadoo.. 

It isn't the most even trim I've seen. BUT it was doable and I would say about what I expected. It is obviously easier to mow with a gas mower than this reel mower but it is not incredibly difficult and can be done if this is an area you might be willing to put in a little extra effort. 

The only other issue I could see is the issue of constantly mulching your lawn, with the clippings either having to make their home on your lawn or having to rake them up....I'm not raking the backyard I can tell you that. There is a bagging attachment you can purchase for the mower, some of the reviews were less than satisfactory but I think I might buy it give it a try and post an update at some point. 

Ok I feel like the preceding paragraphs have been outlining the cons of this little gem. Now let me talk about the number one biggest pro I found to the reel mower. 

#1 Biggest Pro to a Reel Mower-You can mow your lawn at virtually anytime and you aren't waking up your neighbors or restricted due to the noise of the mower. You don't have to blow your eardrums out with headphones so you can hear your music, and obviously you aren't buying gas or putting more emissions into the air. 

Also hey if you're going to do something you might as well do it. While it took a little more physical effort it didn't take me any longer than mowing with a gas mower so why not make the lawn mowing fulfill your daily exercise. 

I am going to report back next time I mow when it hasn't been so long between mowings. Overall I'm pleased. I wasn't expecting a miracle I knew giving up the gas mower would come with sacrifices. 

If I had a client interested in a mower that doesn't use gas I can say depending on the lot their home is on I would definitely recommend this mower. As long as you know what you're getting into this is a great product in my humble opinion. 


Ok I'm all about honesty. So here it is. Honesty.  
First, let me explain. It has been a couple of weeks since the preceding review of my Fiskars Reel Mower. My opinion is ultimately still the same but I do need to be upfront 

I Returned It! 

AAAHHH I honestly feel a little ashamed telling you this (hanging my head in shame). I wanted SO badly to love this mower. So bad! 

Why I Returned It-I went for a few more spins with the mower and my number 1 problem ended up being something it took a minute for me to figure out. This thing does not seem to be made for a 5' tall person. I cannot speak for other heights. 

There are 4 fixed positions for the handle. In one particular position my hands were quite high as I pushed the mower along. In the next closest they were wayyyyyyy to low. 

This is an issue when pushing and getting some leverage 

The other night in 100 degree heat I went out to mow... my patience was very thin with the positioning of this handle that night. I was DONE fighting pushing this thing through the grass. 

So off I went and got the ancient lady from the garage to see if I preferred it. 

Well let me tell you the old one, for ME, was much better. The handle floats freely in basically any position you hold it. That was it! I decided despite all of the benefits I could not keep my Fiskars Reel Mower. 

Long Story Long...Because I can't believe how long this is

I would still recommend a reel mower to a lot of people

If the lot is level and particularly smaller, personally I would say generally up to .15 acres. Get one. Even if your lot is bigger, maybe it is for you. But I would try it out before you settle on it. The pushing and handle height was a deal breaker for me. 

I am going to keep my ancient reel mower and have it sharpened up and use it every other mow. But I wont lie the other weeks I will be using a gas mower. Just trying to keep it "reel", this is one emission reducing activity I can't go in on 100%

Until the next time...and it wont be as long now that I'm over my reel mower depression. 


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