Sunday, May 11, 2008


The first weekend of May traditionally marks 'the first cut' all across SW Ontario. In my neck of the woods (and hundreds of similar towns all across the region) men were pulling their lawnmowers from the back of the garage and brushing off the winter cobwebs. There were blades needing to be sharped, oil needing to be changed, and a tankfull of gasoline before the final familiar Nascar roar of the engine. However this year the time honored ritual is facing some significant challenge. I'm not talking about folks who argue that a traditional lawn is bad for the environment. I'm talking about the rebirth of the reel mower.

For the vast majority of us traditional gasoline powered mowers are still the way to go. Corded electric mowers are a hassle, especially on a large yard, and the cordless rechargable variety are still prohibitively expensive and may not provide enough juice for those with large lots.

However, more and more brave souls, including one of my neighbours, have decided to try their hands with one of the latest generation push reel mowers. This is not the push reel mower that your Grandfather used back in the "good ol' days". The newest models of these eco-friendly devices feature light-weight materials and razor sharp blades and are no more difficult to push then any standard gasoline mower.

The trick to effectively using one of the new generation of push reels is to not let the grass get too long (best to cut twice weekly instead of once), and walk at a brisk pace. One of the biggest advantages of using a push reel is the lack of noise. Think about how many times your relaxation on the back patio has been interrupted by the noise of a nearby lawnmower being put into action. With a push reel you can wake up early in the morning and mow your lawn without bothering the neighbours. Cutting the grass without the noise and fumes from a standard mower is a completely different and almost Zen like experience. You will be able to hear birds, the wind in the trees, and the gentle rhythmic sound of the blades. If you live on a standard urban lot then you really should consider a push reel.

Now last weekend I wanted to sleep in and play golf, so my wife hired another neighbour of mine who runs a little lawn maintenance business to give us the once over with his riding mower. I never got around to playing golf. I did manage to aerate, fertilize, and overseed a few of the rough patches... and enjoy a few (insert brand here) beers on the front porch.

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