When we lived in the city, we had one neighbor that was very much into her yard. It seemed that she was always cutting her grass. I think she thought it looked great, but I did not really care for it. She cut it so short. It ended up looking more like indoor/outdoor carpet, but not quite so green. While this particular neighbor seemed to care the most, I think the rest of the neighborhood was pretty competitive about it as well. It seemed that one person mowing their lawn would trigger a series of other lawns being mowed. And it was almost always the case that if I cut my grass, the woman who really cared would cut her lawn. I think she always wanted to have the lawn that was most recently cut.
We did not care as much about our lawn. Now I like the look of a freshly cut lawn and like the smell also. I did plenty of lawn mowing in my younger days. However, the competition within the neighborhood made mowing the lawn much less appealing. Perhaps to the point of rebellion and leaving the grass higher than we liked (nose, face, spite; I know). One way that mowing the lawn did become more appealing to me was the thought of cutting with a helical blade mower, the old push style mower, not gasoline powered. I also am very much into reducing pollution, so I liked the idea of using a mower that did not produce any pollution through its use. I also thought it would be great exercise.
I looked into purchasing one of these mowers, but decided against it based on cost. When I priced them, the mowers were going for $200 or more. I could buy a new gas-powered mower for half the price. But after moving to the country, I had an opportunity to purchase an old Craftsman push mower. You can see it in the photo below.
I got this one for about $30, a price at which those who are close to me thought I dearly overpaid. But it was much better than $200. Also, it seems that these mowers must be picking up a bit in popularity, compared to a few years ago when I checked prices. A recent price check showed that one of these can be purchased new for about $100. I don’t know if there is new interest as a result of high gas prices or desire to reduce pollution, but I am glad that the prices are coming down on these mowers. Maybe it will encourage others to buy, who would not have been willing to spend $200.
I was quite excited to try out my new mower, so I used it without sharpening the blades or oiling the various moving parts. And I was pleased. It handled the small area I tried it in pretty well, considering how high I had let the grass get and that no maintenance had been done on the mower; I have no idea when the mower had last been used before I bought it.
A few weeks later I used the mower on a much larger area, still without sharpening or oiling. I cut an area about 40′ by 100′. It took me about 23 minutes to do it, and I was sweating like crazy when I was done. Again, the grass I was cutting was higher than was likely intended for use with this mower, but it worked. I have cut the same area again with this mower, and it took about the same amount of time. It takes a good bit of leg strength to get the mower going and keep it moving well enough to cut the grass. And it takes a lot of arm strength. I have been a bit sore and a lot tired in the arms and legs the day after using the mower.
Some might ask, “What is the point of using the push mower on such a small area, when you use a riding mower on the rest of your yard (several acres)?” Well, I am starting small. I will never cut my whole yard with this push mower, but I do intend to increase the area that I cut with it. And my feeling is that every little bit helps. Maybe I would only have to spend 5-8 minutes on this area if I were using the tractor, but that is still 5-8 minutes of burning gasoline. So I am saving gas, and I am reducing emissions. And I am getting a good workout. As I increase the area that I cut with the mower, I will increase the savings on gas and reduce emissions, and I will be getting an even better workout.
I will have more to say about how the mower works and techniques for getting better results from the mower in future posts. For now, I’ll close by saying that, even though it is harder on my body, the way the grass looks after being cut with this mower are far better than when using a riding mower or gas powered push mower. If you have a small enough area to cut, go to your local home improvement or lawn and garden store and check one of these things out. If the demand for them increases, the price will continue to decrease and improvements in design and manufacturing will make them even better.