How do you mow your lawn? Scythe, rotary reel, or powered?

As I write this, most of the windows are open (it cooled off dramatically) and I can hear Mark outside, mowing the grass.
It's a pleasant sound; the snick, snick, snick of our old-fashioned rotary reel mower.
All the power to run it comes from Mark, manhandling it around our small lawn.
Although we have a 1/4 acre property, the lawn area is much smaller. The house, driveway, sidewalks, toolshed, patios and sidewalks, raised vegetable beds, and Eastern Deciduous woodland wilderness areas eat up a lot of that 1/4 acre.

We used to have an electric mower, powered by plugging it into the house. They're nice but you do have to be careful not to run over the power cord. They can be spliced, but only so often before the risk of electric shock rises.
We had a gasoline mower. Loud, noisy, but very effective at mowing down anything and everything in its path. The joy of a gasoline powered mower is that you can let the grass go and still cut it down.

Then we switched to the old-style rotary reel. This used to be cutting edge lawn technology back ye olden days.
It works but only if the user faithfully mows the lawn every time it needs it, rather than waiting a few days. The longer the grass, the more it struggles.

It's clean, it's quiet, it doesn't make a mess, there's no nasty exhaust, but for larger lawns, I can see it would become a burden.

So what kind of lawn mower do you use?

Sheep, scythe, rotary reel, electric powered, gasoline powered, or ride on, they all work but each one doesn't work in every situation.

One thing about our rotary reel: it doesn't need expensive gasoline. Sharpening the blades, on the other hand, may be a challenge.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

I'm proud to say that I have reached my current stage of life without ever owning a lawn cutting implement of any type.

So how do you manage this feat?

Do you have no grass at all? I'd say that of my 1/4 acre property, about 1/4 of it is actual grass. The rest is given over to house, driveway, toolshed, sidewalks and patios, raised beds, hedgerows and wilderness areas, and ornamental gardens.

Yet I still have grass that must be mowed.
What is growing under your clothesline? I got grass.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

I have always had the situation where someone else did it. I am currently surrounded by several acres of regularly mowed grass. I am just not the one doing it.

I use an electric mower which works better if you mow without waiting too long as it struggle in long grass. We have had gas powered mowers in the past and they present maintenance problems that are a pain to deal with every year when you get them out to use. Electric ones, no problem. Take a file to the blade and off you go.

My grandfather had a side business of sharpening reel mower blades. As a child I used to watch him use this very clever machine to sharpen the blades. He would have to take the reel out of the mower,(not a problem as he was a professional diesel mechanic) mount it in his machine then set the sharpening stone and turn it on. Gravity by way of a weight would at a measured pace pull the spinning stone across the blades and slowly rotate the reel as it went. It was very cool and my younger brothers were really, really fascinated with it. He had a contract with the small city he lived in to sharpen all the mowers they used for the public spaces, plus he got a fair share of the sharpening business from his neighbors. Perhaps there is still someone in Hersey that sharpens mower blades.

Sadly, no one around here seems to sharpen them.
It's more likely that I haven't found someone because there are plenty of Amish in Lancaster county.
They all use this type of mower because it's human powered.

I just have to find someone.

We also use rotary reel mower and ours has an extra set of (smaller) wheels for stability, which is nice. It just happened to be left in the basement when we purchased this house! I'm looking for someone to sharpen the blades as well; there is a place in northern Baltimore County, looks like (probably too far for you, Teresa?). I was hoping it might be a DIY job, but it sounds like that is not the case...

While my grandfather had that cool machine, I think you could do a respectable job with a file and some patience. Just carefully file each blade of the reel until you had done them all.

Our front yard is grazed by wildlife and we keep the backyard as meadow rather than lawn, which I cut with a Scythe and use an electric whipper snipper for the edges.