I finally decided to buy a Great States 18" reel mower. I paid $95 for it. I actually already owned a Great States reel mower but when I tried to resharpen it, I couldn’t adjust the blades. My fault. I left it out in the rain a few times.
So I was torn between buying a rechargeable mower and another reel mower I went for the reel mower. I went for the reel mower mainly because I like cutting with a reel mower. Also, getting rid of the battery of a rechargeable mower will not be so great for the environment and also I read mixed reviews about the mowers…most were great, but they still made me pause before spending $400.
I bought a new Great States mower which is not a high end reel mower. There are reel mowers that cost over $200. Having had experience with Great States already, I went with another one.
Assembling the mower is a snap. I did it in about 30 minutes including adjusting the cutting blade. It is slightly different than my first mower, it is slightly bigger and also the handle and push bar is different. Some reviews have called it flimsy but I have not had a problem with it. (Update - I recently had a problem when when one the tightening handles came loose and the roller in back fell off. I lost a piece but use my other mower to fix it. My recommendation is just check these tightening handles once in awhile. It only takes a second.)
I didn’t realize how a reel mower actually worked until I got this mower. This time I took the time to understand how the cutting mechanism worked. It is very simple but amazingly effective. This “aha” moment made me want to try to fix my old mower. I purchased some oil to help unstick the rusted adjusting bolts and a few days after applying the oil and a little elbow grease I was able to adjust my old mower, apply the sharpening paste and now I have two reel mowers! One is adjusted lower than the other so I can use one for a closer cut. (Update - I no longer have two mowers as I used a bolt from the old one to replace one I lost. I only need the one mower anyways.)
Okay back to my test of the new Great States mower. Thie new mower is a little harder to push, but it is not difficult. It actually has a different feel to it. When it cuts, it also has a smooth slicing sound. I like it.
The cut is amazing, In taller grass and even some dandelions, the grass and weeds come pouring out the back. It is kind of amazing! On occasion I have to go over an area more than once or I use my rechargeable weed wacker to take care of the stragglers. Also, I seem to notice, sticks do not get jammed as often.
I mow weekly which for some may be a hassle, but I like it. It is a great workout. The things I love the most about using a reel mower are
- My kids can play right next to me as I mow
- I don’t breathe in all that exhaust and it is quiet
- I don’t have to deal with the gasoline
- It is good exercise
- It really doesn’t take that long.
The cons of a reel mower? The only one I can think of is it doesn’t cut all the dandelions. There is no vaccum pull like in a gas mower. I have a lot of dandelions and most of my neighbors yards are immaculate. This is a separate discussion on the use or overuse of lawn chemicals.
I am torn between the use of weed and feed to get the lawn under control so I can use the reel mower. Once under control I can manage it with gluten corn meal and fertilizer. I also use vinegar for spot treatments which works well, but damages the grass a little.
For those who say reel mowers are only for small yards, all I can say is, it is a little more difficult, but it is all about the trade offs. I personally like the exercise. I want to do my part. I enjoy cutting the grass. I have learned to ask myself why am I in such a rush? Do I need to hurry up and cut the grass so I can run to the gym to workout?
I am digressing a bit, so let me end by saying. I love my two Great States reel mowers. I am not sure why I would pay $200 or more for a reel mower. Maybe if I had one I would know, but I am quite happy with what I have. People walk by me and are amazed reel mowers still exist. I just think “Get Reel.”
I bought mine at Menards, but you can find them online at good old Amazon. I recommend this mower. There may also be some ads on this page with other reel mowers like the Brill and other models I have heard of.
Great States #815-18 18" Deluxe Reel Mower