I picked up a used reel mower and had it sharpened and adjusted. However it did not come with a bag for catching the grass clippings. I have heard that not picking up clippings will add to thatch which is not a good idea. I have also heard that leaving the clippings on the lawn is a good idea because they help fertilize the the lawn by adding organic material to the soil when they decompose.
I assume something in the middle is correct. If the grass is high I should use the power mower with a bag. If the grass is growing slowly I should use the reel mower and leave the short clippings on the lawn. Does this sound logical?
-= Ken =-
May 07, 2012, 01:40 AM
I just used the reel mower for the first time and was disappointed with its performance. I had to go over most of the lawn twice and three times in some spots. The blades have been sharpened and adjusted but there were a lot of blades of grass still sticking up all over the place. I took off about a half inch so the grass wasn't too tall. :-(
-= Ken =-
May 07, 2012, 09:06 AM
The reel mowers (man powered/no motor) were common when lawns consisted of thin and sparse blue grass and lots were small areas under shaded trees, with some dandilions here and there. With thick turf, tough turf grass varieties, fertilized and watered, plus a much larger lot, it is pretty darn tough to try and use a reel mower. Unless you attempt to use it every other day, and are not worried about perfection?
Are we talking the non motorized type???
If you do use it often, the amount you trim off will not be an issue for thatch build up. Mulching mowers cut the grass, and throw it up under the mower housing where it is chopped again and again, before it drops to the ground. Same result, unless your grass is way too long for the mower or wet when cut.
Many of the lawn services in our area now mulch too. It is just fine for the lawn (very healthy), as long as you mow at a proper interval. In the summer, usually once a week, but right now (because of rains and spring growth/fine fescue & some blue) we find once every 5 days is about right.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Conrad,
May 09, 2012, 12:03 PM
Kudos to you for choosing a low carbon emission alternative! I tried it for about 3 - 4 years before giving up in exasperation and buying a power mower, and although I hate the noise, smell and cost, it's a lot more efficient in the long run.
I did have a bagger for my reel mower but it was so small and clumby it wasn't very effective.
From what I've read, leaving the cut clippings on the grass does improve the lawn. I bagged the clippings because I wanted them to add to my compost pile.
Even if there are a lot of clippings as there would be from using a power mower, they still just decompose. I don't always bag my power mower clippings, which are extensive, but they're decomposed quickly and not even visible by the next time I mow. And my grass unfortunately grows quickly just from the rain (I never water the lawn).
You are right in your analysis: use a power mower when the grass is high, and the reel mower when the grass is low. But you can also leave the clippings on the lawn when you use the power mower, unless you don't like the sight of them as they dry out.
Something else to consider for a reel mower: I found that the blades needed to be sharpened more often, and the process was quite expensive when I priced it decades ago - something like $90 just to sharpen the blades. Over a few years, it would have added up to more than I paid for the reel mower.
I explored the idea of sharpening them myself but apparently there are some issues of balancing which required more skill than I had.
May 09, 2012, 03:32 PM
long clippings will be thick thatch... small clippings mulch into nutrients faster.
another issue with reel mowers is if you let the grass get long on you, using the mower is going to be like pushing bulldozers uphill... sideways... going through that lawn.
so if you can't keep up with the lawn, it's going to have to be machine mowed, period. man, I know for a fact, that 4-inch or higher grass is suicide to cut with a reel.
sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?