Nothing says classic small town America like the sound of lawns being mowed on a sunny Saturday morning. But the earthy smell of fresh-cut grass isn’t the only thing lingering in the air… so are VOCs, particle pollution, and hazardous air pollution (HAP). That is, unless you’re pushing a man-powered reel lawn mower.
What’s Wrong With Gas?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), gas powered lawn equipment comprises 5% of the total hydrocarbon emissions that contribute to ozone depletion. Just one hour of gas-powered lawn-mowing causes as much pollution as eleven new cars being driven for one hour.
Also, garden equipment is responsible for more gas spills than the Exxon Valdez. Blame faulty gas cans or distracted operators, but about 17 million gallons of gas destined for mowers, blowers and whackers are spilled into the ground every year. That’s not only ground pollution, it leaches into the water and evaporates into the air.
But there is good news. You can still have a nice lawn without replacing all your grass with mosses and indigenous plants… although that’s not a bad idea either. Many ecologically responsible homeowners are turning to their grandfather’s lawnmower, with a modern twist- the reel lawn mower.
How They Work
No longer heavy and cumbersome (don’t listen to grandpa’s words of woe), the new reel lawnmowers are light and durable, inexpensive and easy to maintain.
Unlike the traditional rotary mower, with blades that run parallel to the ground, the reel lawn mower’s blades whir across the grass in a perpendicular motion. This makes the reel lawn mower great for keeping a well-maintained lawn neat and trim.
Because it uses your energy as its power source, there are no toxic emissions… just a little sweat on a hot day. While an electric mower does not produce greenhouse gasses either, it does require a power source to run the electricity. Unless that source is wind or solar power, the power plant will produce environmental contaminants, making the reel mower the more ecological choice.
Maintenance on the reel mower is also minimal compared to the traditional gas or electric mower. Just a blade sharpening every few years, and you’re good to mow.
Who Should Mow With Reel Mowers?
The reel mower is not great for chopping up sticks or mulching leaves. That just means that you’ll have to rake up the debris before you mow. You’ll also have to be on top of your yard work, because a reel lawnmower doesn’t work on long weeds.
Reel mowers are ideal for small urban lots that are well-tended. If you live in a heavily wooded area, with a huge yard and no time for raking, you may want to go with the electric option over the reel.
Also, if you like to mow early in the morning or in the middle of the night, the reel mower is perfect. It has absolutely no noise pollution… unless you whistle while you work.
Time To Shop
A reel lawnmower can run you anywhere from $89.00 to $249.00, so they are really economical compared to their gas-guzzling counterparts. However, I don’t necessarily recommend buying the cheapest option.
Easun Naturcut: If you’re looking for something light weight, with sharp blades that last up to eight years without maintenance, Easun Naturcut has the best models to accommodate you. $180 – $215.
Scotts Classic: With a 20” blade width comparable to a power mower, and large radial tires, the Scotts Classic 20” Reel is perfect for larger jobs. $169 – $189.
Greenworks 18” Five-Blade: If you’re just looking for an inexpensive mower to cut your small urban plot with scissor-like precision, this is the one. It’s price tag is right, and it works well for smaller jobs. $99 – $119.