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Garden Dreams: Reel Mower

February 28th, 2009

I have a long list of things I want for gardening, new tools, new books, more pots, more manure, more plants, the list goes on and on. One that I’m really dreaming about is a new reel mower.
I used one of these when I was young, in fact it’s the one I still have and use occasionally. It’s a vintage Craftsman mower from years gone by. It still works, but the tires have no tread left and you can no longer adjust the cutting height.
I like to follow the motto “Cut it high, let it lie” and this mower does not allow me to do that. Perhaps I can find someone who will fix it for me, but until then I’m dreaming of a nice shiny new reel mower (I know not a girl’s typical dream, but designer bags or new shoes are not for me).

Here are a few mowers I have been eying.

scotts-reel-mowerThere’s a Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower Although I don’t really want to buy a plastic mower, I love that my old one is all metal. This one doesn’t have great style, there’s just something very attractive about my old beat up red one. Plus I just don’t like that green & orange color scheme.

razorcut-mowerThere’s the RazorCut premium that’s made in Germany (if it’s anything like their cars it would be a good investment). I have seen this one in person and it seems really nice, but it just looks a little too futuristic for a reel mower. I love the old-fashioned look better. I have heard a lot of good things about this mower though, if you’re going to buy a new one this may be the way to go. Lehman’s also has a bunch of other people powered lawn tools, like a leaf sweeper (although I must say I’m pretty fond of my rake).

lee-valley-tools-mowerThere is also the Lee Valley Tools one (if it’s like anything like the rest of their tools it would be a great mower). This one appeals to me the most because it looks like it’s a no-frills quality mower. I looks most like the old one that I have and I’m sure it’s built to last just as long. The green color is also fantastic, although I do wish it came in red (perhaps a can of spray paint could fix that). I also like the grass catcher, that would be handy for collecting the grass clipping occasionally for my compost pile.

AHHHHH, mowing without the sounds of an engine, only the swish of a blade? No exhaust to pollute the environment or my lungs? No longer running out of gas and having to run in to town. Better for the grass because it actually slices the grass not smashes it. If I can find someone to fix up my old mower I will do that, until them I’m using my gas powered one to mow. If I can’t find someone to fix up my old mower perhaps in a year or two I’ll have a nice reel mower to use, or maybe I’ll dig out my dad’s scythe and learn to use that.

What do you use to mow? a reel mower? (take the poll)

26 Comments to “Garden Dreams: Reel Mower”
  1. kristin on February 28, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Thank you for reminding me that I really need to get a mower. I broke our gas-powered push mower at the end of the season last year. At that point, I didn’t want to buy another one, and I discovered I could actually mow almost all the lawns with the riding mower. The small bit that I can’t get to with the riding mower (mostly because of fences) is so minor that I think I can get away with using a reel mower. Which would be GREAT, because then I don’t have to worry about running out of gas or wearing the stupid ear protection. And the grass will be growing in just a month or so, so I’d better get on this . . .

    kristin’s last blog post.. Okay, Back to the Puppies

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  2. Mangochild on February 28, 2009 at 8:10 am

    I know nothing (and I mean nothing) about mowing or lawn care – this is all news to me…. but with that said, the Lee mower looks like a good choice, particularly because of the catcher at the back…. grass cuttings on the grass seems “off” somehow to me. Do you have a large area to cut? Or is your area more growing space for the veg/plants?

    Mangochild’s last blog post.. Satisfying Snacks Local Style?

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  3. Susy on February 28, 2009 at 9:16 am

    My lawn isn’t huge, but it’s not tiny either, it takes about 40 min with a push mower or 20 with a gas push mower (it’s probably 5,000 sq ft of mowing area). It’s difficult to mow because it wasn’t graded properly when installed. So it’s difficult with a gas or a push mover.

    This summer I’m hoping to liberate some more of my lawn into flower & veg areas, at least 500 more square feet. That will cut down on mowing time.

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  4. Jennifer on February 28, 2009 at 11:14 am

    We got a $180 Scotts mower (it’s not 20″ wide though, only 16 maybe?) for $50 off craig’s list last year. We actually have a service that does the 40 sq feet of “lawn” at our apartment – the landlord provides it. They’re not very good, and we wanted the mower anyway – we use it between visits from the service. We love the mower, and our friend has one too and he loves his. We’re happy for the exercise – not that it’s any more work than a gas mower – but we’re also glad we’re not polluting, or noise polluting.

    Don’t get me started on rakes vs leaf blowers!

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  5. Scott/Weedy on February 28, 2009 at 11:25 am

    I unfortunately have a big lawn it’s 3 acres and when we moved here in ’99 it was all grass. it took 6 hours on a tractor (small lawn type)! we finally bought a zero turn and it dropped from 4.5 to 2.5 hours. i collect all grass for mulch. I’ve liberated a bout 1/3 to 1/2 the lawn so far so i mow 1.75-2 acres. the big mower actually uses less gas than the previous mower but it is what it is! looking forward to reducing it down more.

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  6. Pampered Mom on February 28, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    We use a hand-me-down gas powered mower we got from my parents when they moved into their new house (their lawn’s large enough that they need riding lawn mower). It’s tempermental, but it was free.

    I can’t stand the smell of the exhaust from the lawn mower – I’ve hated it since childhood. We’ve talked about getting a reel mower for a few years now and finally decided to bite the bullet this year. We had considered a number of different models, but since price is a factor it limited the field slightly.

    The Scotts ones are very popular around here, but I’m not to thrilled to buy one from the Scotts company. Not only do they have a love affair with all things GM, but they also are in a collaboration agreement with Monsanto.

    In the end we elected to go with the Craftsman 18″ one. We also got the grass catcher so my husband can choose to divert some of the clippings to the compost bin. The Sears isn’t too far from our house and they have free pick-up at the store.

    If I were picking amongst your choices I’d probably go with the one from Lee Valley. They’re price is really similar to what I’ve seen out there.

    Pampered Mom’s last blog post.. Little Hands Love Chili!

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  7. Maureen on February 28, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    We have an electric (battery operated) mower that we got when the Pollution control district was giving out $100 off coupons (yea!) but I would still like to get a reel mover for the day when this one wears out…tho we do only have about 200 sq ft. of lawn. And my DH keeps saying that as soon as the kids move out the rest of the lawn is going (dug up the small front yard to put in veggies last year) so maybe we won’t need one at all!

    Maureen’s last blog post.. Pantry Raid

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  8. andrea on February 28, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    We’ve got the Lee Valley one (with out the clippings catcher) and love it! We also love Lee Valley as a company – wonderful products and wonderful service. They truly stand behind the things they sell. Can’t say enough good things about them.

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  9. Dan on March 1, 2009 at 12:41 am

    I have a small yard and an even smaller lawn so I used to use one of those sparkly new reel mowers. It did not work well for me because most of the lawn is shaded so it grows thin blades that lay on the ground. The reel mower unfortunately pushed most of the blades over rather then cut them so I switched to gas. They work really well though if you have a thick upright lawn. I’d go with the Lee Valley mower, they make great tools!

    Dan’s last blog post.. More Seeds

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  10. Ben on March 1, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    I used the scotts 16″ all last year on my 2000sqft yard and loved it. I was also able to get a hand scythe that ,with a little practice, works better than my weed eater ever did. If I had to do it over I would get the grass catcher so I could use the clippings for compost. good luck!

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  11. warren on March 2, 2009 at 8:20 am

    We bought a Scott’s reel mower last summer…it’s the lower end version of the one you have pictured. It works great and is both easier (lighter) and a better cut than the old gas powered one we used to use!

    warren’s last blog post.. We licked the bell!

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  12. Terry on March 2, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Hi! I haven’t visited your site before, but I like this article! I wanted a reel mower all last year every time I used our ancient gas powered hand-me-down. I like the looks of the Lee. I have been slowly liberating our back yard, and plan on starting on the front this year, so I am sure a reel mower will be most appropriate. I would want the 14 inch I think.

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  13. Steve Frazier on March 21, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I recently bought the same model of Sears reel mower you are showing at a yard sale, do you know about when it might have been made? I have had to remove the two extra coats of paint someone put on it, it appears to work and can be adjusted for cutting but haven’t tried it yet.

    Reply to Steve Frazier's comment

    • Susy on March 21, 2009 at 9:26 pm

      I’m not sure when it was made, but from what I understand it was left in my parents first home by the previous owner. I assume it was made in the 50-60’s. I’ll have to do some research.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Gil on March 30, 2009 at 9:51 pm


    I have to agree with you about loving reel mowers. My wife and I have just over a quarter acre in Jefferson, La. When we first bought the place I used a Snapper mower which always ran out of gas halfway through the job, and I was always reparing it. It also left me covered in grass and dirt. I finally did some research, shopped around and settled on the Gilmore. It’s a lot like the Scott’s classic, but it has a sturdier handle. The Scott’s handle is very flimsy. Then, recently, I bought an antique Great States Mower with an oak handle. I bought it mainly because I loved the way it looked, but after trying it out on the lawn, I found it was actually better than the Gilmore. The blade is easier to adjust and it’s much quieter. If you’re looking for a good new reel mower, I’d say the best one is the Agrifab Silent Cut. It’s what the Amish use. It comes in widths up to 21″, is a nice shade of red and even has the old-fashioned T-shaped handle. I much prefer the look of the T-handle to the modern loop handle. When I buy another new reel mower that’s what I’ll get. I’ve been leaning toward using all antique, manual lawn tools. I clip the Iris and hibiscus with antique sheep sheers. Our place originally belonged to an elderly French couple and they grew all of their own food. We found lots of cool old garden tools in the barn. We’v got antique hoes, picks, shovels, augers, scythes, and some things we can’t quite identify, but they sure look cool.

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  15. JOBY on June 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I have the exact push mower in your picture Model 123.8170 . I cleaned it up and it works good Do you have any Idea what year that mower was made. I found the operating instructions and parts list at good luck!

    Reply to JOBY's comment

    • Susy on June 3, 2009 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks, I’ll look them up and see if I can buy some parts to fix it up. I have no idea when it was made, my parents bought a house in the early 70’s and it was left there by the previous owner.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  16. Tree on September 3, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    So I love my push reel mower. I used one as a child on our 20+acre property. My dad also had a riding mower but the front 2 were my responsibility with the push reel mower.
    When we bought a house I bought a push reel. I still get looks 9 years later everytime I go out and mow the lawn. I get questioned, why I don’t have a man to mow the lawn (to which I point out DH sitting in the attic watching me), or why I can’t afford a new lawn mower.
    It makes me laugh, my new push reel mower 9 years ago was not cheap $90, and I love it. I love mowing the lawn (even when I forget to do it for a couple of weeks and its tough). I love knowing that there is no additional polution (except the occassional swear word when I get stuck) and no gas leaking into my lawn (well its more of a clover patch, but hey its green)!
    .-= Tree´s last blog ..MY TOWEL HANDS OFF =-.

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  17. Richie on April 22, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    I have a “Craftmen” Reel Mower, it has one wheel, and a small states on it CRAFTSMAN, PRODUCT OF YARD MAN INC..I know it’s old just looking for some info on it…thanks for any help..


    Reply to Richie's comment

    • Cayce Warf on November 14, 2010 at 7:27 pm

      I have one of these as well.
      I don’t know anything about it.
      Any thoughts about value?

      Cayce Warf

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      • Susy on November 14, 2010 at 8:27 pm

        I don’t know anything about it, I love it and am hoping to get it working better soon.

        to Susy's comment

  18. Jane Thompson on January 22, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Last year, I did all the research and ended up with the best ever mower. It’s made by fiskars, the scissors and pruners people.

    Can’t say enough good things about this mower. adjustable to 4″ high, easily, and has the wheels behind the blades instead of outside them, like on older push mowers. Mows right up to the fence and garden. Easily adjustable handle, chain drive for easier pushing, and folds up to take up less room in the shed. I love it!

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  19. Lisa Porter on February 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Stopped by to see how your “ladies” are doing and saw this beauty!
    You have no idea (well maybe you do) how much I miss mine. It was either the mower or my life-long collection of terracotta pots that were the last thing to go on the truck when we moved to Kentucky. It was a very tough decision that I regret to this day.
    I know I could go buy a “new” one but it just wouldn’t be the same.
    I know you understand.
    Working on a Bee post…would love to include your wisdom!
    Hope your family is well.
    xo Lisa

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  20. Bob McBride on May 8, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    I have this same lawn mower. I used it when I was eight or nine and I’m still using it today in my mid-fifties. I just need to adjust the cutting bar every spring and I have the best mowed lawn in the neighborhood. I also use a push edger that looks like 1/2 a reel mower with one wheel missing. Does a great job along hardscape.

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  21. greg moran on September 14, 2015 at 12:20 am

    I have the exact mower yard man craftsman original excellent condition its adjustments are free of rust

    Reply to greg moran's comment

  22. M. on May 16, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    I’m sure you have a new mower by now, but Mascot makes an old-fashioned, all-metal reel mower in the red colour you desire.

    Reply to M.'s comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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