Get reel!

Each year in the U.S., gas-powered lawn mowers consume well over 600 million gallons of gasoline. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an additional 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled when filling lawn mowers and other garden equipment. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 234,000 people were admitted to the hospital or treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2012, more than 17,900 of which were children under age 18. Plus, gaspowered lawn mowers spit out harmful air pollutants and disturb the peace and quiet of our spring and summer days.

However, gas-powered mowers aren’t the only way to keep your lawn looking good. Electric mowers are quieter and exhaustfree. Some electric mowers need an extension cord, but many of the newer ones contain a rechargeable battery. With battery-powered models, you simply plug the mower in to charge it and then unplug it while you cut the grass. These cordless mowers are heavier and a bit more difficult to maneuver than the corded models. Neither type requires oil changes or gasoline. You do have the cost for electricity, but that may be as little as $10 to $20 per mowing season.

Another, and even more environmentally friendly, option is a reel, or manual, lawn mower. Here are just a few of the great reasons to use a reel mower:
• Reel mowers leave behind healthier grass plants because they “snip” the grass, cutting it in the same way that a pair of scissors would. (Powered rotary mowers actually tear the grass blades.)
• Reel mowers don’t need gasoline, so an empty gas can will never change your plans. They also don’t require an electrical charge, so you don’t have to remember to plug them in.
• Reel mowers produce no harmful emissions and emit no exhaust into your face and your neighborhood’s air.
• Reel mowers are whisper quiet, allowing you to hear your children playing and enjoy the birds chirping. You can still listen to your music on headphones, but you won’t have to!
• You’ll enjoy a brisk walk and some resistance training while you mow.
• Reel mowers are virtually maintenance free. Occasionally, the bearings and cutting edges may need a little lubricant and a slight adjustment. The cutters will need to be sharpened every couple years.
• You’ll never struggle with the pull cord on a reel mower. Simply start walking and the mower starts, too.
• Reel mowers take less space in the garage or shed.
• Reel mowers are the cheapest to purchase, operate, and maintain.

A reel mower isn’t right for every yard. The mowers are best suited to smaller yards, such as those that are 10,000 square feet (about one-quarter acre) or less. However, many of today’s lawns are no bigger than this—especially if you have areas devoted to native or drought-tolerant plants and mulched.

If you’d like more information about reel mowers (or about electric mowers), ask at your hardware store, lawn and garden center, or home supply store. You can also learn more at www.reelmowerguide.com; http://eartheasy.com/article_reel_mower.htm; or www.artofmanliness.com/2012/05/23/in-praise-of-the-push-reelmower.

Photo © Brad Wolfe | iStock | Thinkstock

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