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Lawn Retro: Buying Reel Mowers

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

In this day when gas, batteries, or electric power runs everything you own, you might be surprised to discover that good old-fashioned, human-powered reel mowers treat your lawn with exceptional kindness. Gas or electric-fired rotary mowers are the norm for private homeowners and lawn service companies today, yet they can shred or chop the top off the grass, leaving your lawn exposed to elements that brown the tips and sap nutrients. What you gain in ease of operation in a powered rotary mower, you ultimately lose in lawn quality.

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If the powered rotary mower rips and shreds, the reel mower works like a well-honed pair of scissors, slicing the tips of the lawn evenly. That's if you keep your blades sharp and the reel clean and lubricated. No matter the make, the reel mower must be adjusted properly by aligning the cutting blades with the bed knife.

The paper test is a great way to check alignment. Rotate your blades by hand with a single sheet of paper set against the bed knife. If the paper cuts cleanly, you have the right adjustment.

Cutting Your Lawn, and Operating Costs

You can spend as little or as much as you want on a new reel mower. Depending on make, model, and accessories (grass catcher, sharpening kit, etc.) expect to pay between $110 and $300 for an efficient, new generation push mower.

Now for the best part: reel mowers are light to push around; they don't use fuel; they don't pollute; they won't blow grass or exhaust fumes in your face while you work; they store in a very small space; and they're easy to clean and maintain.

If you buy a reel mower, consider mowing in overlapping patterns, making the total amount of lawn you cut with each successive pass smaller and easier to handle.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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