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Dusting Off: The Push Reel Mower

  • Najib Benouar

Lawn Mower

At some point in the past, when a man wanted to manicure his small patch of land, he wouldn’t reach for a gas-powered contraption. He’d reach for something that could do the trick just as well, thanks to a little elbow grease and ingenuity: a push reel mower.

Technically, push reel mowers never left—you can find a surprisingly modernized one here—but they haven’t been popular since the days your granddad was mowing lawns for summer cash. And nowadays the only time you might even come across one is in the assortment of well-placed rusty props leaning in the corner of your favorite faux-mercantile café.

But they’re a viable option for today’s modern lawn-mowing man. Allow us to explain why they deserve a good dusting-off.

If we can assume the size of your lawn isn’t Central Park–like, using a nonmotorized mower should actually prove advantageous. It’s lighter in weight, it doesn’t need to be gassed or maintained the way a motor does, and it’s more maneuverable in tight spots.

It’s the sort of return to simplicity that doesn’t require making any grandiose sacrifices (like that first six weeks of chaffing in your selvage denim did). It cuts your lawn just as well—even better, some would argue, since the blades travel in a motion that cuts grass more cleanly than the helicopter motion of your gas mower. Plus, you can use it as your excuse for not driving a hybrid.

Ask those neighbors with the Prius how many MPGs their mower gets.