Lawn Mowing Without Petrol

Plenty has been rattling through my head in recent months, and some of it has even fallen out into reality. Today I found, bought and used a hand reel mower for the first time. To cut the following long story short, I am right now very happy with it.

I’ve been borrowing my neighbour’s cheap (he tells me) 4 stroke lawn mower since shortly after we moved in here, to mow our small (maybe 30m2) patch of lawn plus 40 sq m verge, which will hopefully be dug up later this year. Recently the mower has been unavailable (ah, sons who borrow things for long periods… I would never do that), so I thought about my options. Little storage space, unwilling to spend lots of money, aversion to fossil fuel.

I can’t remember how or why, but the idea of a hand push mower came to me, so I got to reading Gumtree and some product reviews to see my options, feeling pretty keen after reading a meandering blog post. Buying second hand was appealing, but each of the available mowers seemed to have a poor reputation. I didn’t want to risk changing to a different type of mower, and not get a good one – it seems to matter for hand push reel mowers. I felt like this was a wise economy in play, as Rhonda Hetzel talks about on her blog.

One mower stood out, so I decided to hone in on it, figuring that hand mowers wouldn’t be big sellers, so shops wouldn’t have lots of choice. Sure enough, each place I called had about one, and the price range was about $100 to $200. I was uncertain about spending that much, but the Al-Ko Soft Touch 38HM was so popular on the review site that I was starting consider splashing out for it, at $100 + $20 + $33 for catcher and delivery.

In the end I found it at their designated distributor, the Morley Mower Centre for a total of $125, so I snapped it up.

I dutifully read the manual, which said I shouldn’t use it on long or wet grass (like all hand mowers, apparently). We drove home with a sleeping toddler – hooray – and it started raining – bother. The lawn, having been without Mike’s mower for a good while, was long. Bother. So I thought I’d just put it on the highest adjustment, have a tinker and see how it worked for five minutes.

Well colour me impressed, I finished the job, and it’s as good a mow as I’ve ever done. Far less clippings scattered far and wide (even without the catcher), me not sneezing, small enough to fit in the shed – granted, after I tidied it. In fact, Miss 2 was wandering about nearby while I was mowing, something I (and probably she) would be unwilling to contemplate with a “bit noisy Daddy” machine. Apparently the ‘scissor cut’ is better for the grass too. I hosed off the mower afterward, something I’m not sure I’ll keep up.