On any weekend the buzz and cough of gas powered lawn mowers is a common sound in suburbia. Aside from the noise pollution, gas powered lawn mowers spew a stack of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as their emission controls are nowhere near as sophisticated as today’s cars.
A conventional gas powered lawn mower emits on average nearly 90 pounds of carbon dioxide and over 50 pounds of other pollutants into our air every year according to the EPA. Emissions aside, there’s all the other environmental nastiness associated with oil exploration, extraction and refining to provide the gas to power these machines.
Short of getting rid of your lawn altogether or generally greening lawn care practices, a couple of other options for lightening your lawn mowing environmental impact are electric mowers and reel mowers.
Electric mowers are a great option if your house is supplied with green power, otherwise you may just be powering the mower with another filthy fossil fuel – coal. If you’re looking for an even greener option, a manual reel mower could be ideal. After all, why waste money and travel related emissions going to the gym when you can work those muscles and be productive at the same time – in a sense, it’s exercising for the environment!
The last time I used a reel mower was in the late 80’s and that model was from the 60’s. It was certainly quiet, but incredibly heavy and awkward to use. My brief association with the contraption gave me a new found respect for gardeners of yesteryear.
But it also probably explains why lawns were so much smaller back then.
Times have changed and reel mowers have certainly come a long way. They needed to do deal with the expanses of grass areas around homes these days. Here’s a comparison of old vs. new models in terms of looks.
Aside from the slick, modern lines; reel mowers are often far lighter. Some are under 20 pounds for a model similar to the basic old style; a third of the weight of the one I tussled with years ago. I’m told even the heavier modern ones with the extra features are a breeze to push given their design.
Manual reel mowers don’t need much in the way of maintenance and unlike reel mowers of old; the blades don’t require sharpening anywhere near as often. I’ve spoken to a couple of people who swear by them, but they recommend that they are really only suited to a flat lawn – a bumpy, sloping back yard will provide probably a little too much of a workout and less than stellar cutting results.
A few people have mentioned it takes a few mowing sessions to get the grass “trained” for the mower and that if you have long grass, it’s probably best to whack it down first with a gas powered mower before making the switch to a reel mower for good.
Also be prepared to mow a little more often – once the grass gets away from you, it will be a battle with a reel mower. As mentioned, perhaps instead of seeing it as an additional dreaded chore, if you have a regular exercise regimen replace an aspect of it with a regular reel mower workout.
Before taking the plunge and forking out the cash for a reel mower, I recommend borrowing or hiring a mower for the day to give it a lawn test and determine if it’s right for you. When choosing a reel mower, it’s also important to ask for expert advice as unlike gas powered mowers, you’ll need to select one suited to your lawn as different models are designed for specific situations and grass types.
A search on Google using the term “reel mower” will also bring up a bunch of information on the topic.
Source: Green living tips
I remember the old type of reel lawn mowers- very simple and reliable, although they were sometimes a bit difficult to push as a 10-year old youngster! The modern reel mowers probably have gearing and less friction making them easier to operate. These ‘fuel-less’ lawn mowers are ideal for small lawns and even big lawns- it just takes a bit of time and effort! As the article above suggests, one could make mowing the lawn part of one’s gym regime. I wonder if anyone has thought of attaching a small dynamo that could be used to power small electric goods, e.g. a radio; stop pushing and the music stops- good incentive to keep going! The concept of maintaining the lawn with a completely green mower while getting fit is very appealing. This is a case of an old invention being updated and improved; the old technology being more eco-friendly than the fossil-fueled alternatives. In South Africa, a good quality modern reel mower should cost around R700 (that includes a grass box attachment). You can also ‘green’ your lawn by reusing household greywater and/or using rain water for irrigation. Grey water is high in nutrients that plants need; it’ll save your fertilizer costs too. Water tanks and rain barrels can be used to store rainwater for drier months (many towns in South Africa implement water restrictions during the non-rainy season). Rainwater used in conjunction with gray water will keep your lawn green and eco-friendly all year round.