An ode to my new push reel lawn mower
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a new homeowner in possession of a good lawn must be in want of a lawn mower. Unless you have access to a herd of goats, or you’re an aggressive gardener with immediate plans to xeriscape or cover all terrain with edible plants.
My significant other and I have started off with modest ambitions at our new homestead: keeping our small parcel of grass from degenerating into a weedy jungle.
A gas-powered mower was out from the start. Smelly, dirty, hugely polluting, and a pain to operate and maintain.
We borrowed a friend’s corded electric mower a couple of times, but juggling that cord around was exasperating. And good electric mowers without a cord run steep, in the $400 range.
Anyway, I knew from the start that I wanted to go sleek and simple and uber-green: a push reel mower, powered only by my own muscle.
I consulted Consumer Reports ($ub. req.) and other reviewers, and they all pointed to one top contender, out new this year: the Fiskars Momentum. I rushed out and bought one. Well, actually, I rushed out and tried to buy one, but they had flown off the shelves of my local home-improvement store, so I had to sit tight a few days until the next batch came in. It was worth the wait.
Made by the Finnish company famous for its orange-handled scissors, this isn’t your mother’s push reel mower. It’s got an entirely original design with a flywheel-type system that makes it run more efficiently, and tough, sharp blades that can push through small twigs and dense weeds without a problem. It was a snap to put together out of the box, even for a non-handy person like myself, and its elegant design has just one lever to fuss with, which easily adjusts the cut height from one to four inches.
It wasn’t the cheapest mower around. I got mine for $200. Fiskars’ list price is $250, and online I see prices as high as $270. But consider that you’ll spend no money on gas over the lifetime of the machine, and Fiskars claims it will be almost maintenance-free (and backs that claim up with a four-year warranty).
A couple of drawbacks: It won’t cut really long grass, so you can’t let the lawn get out of control between trimmings. It only works going forward, not backward, unlike gas mowers. And it operates best on small, flat lawns, they say, so it might not be ideal for vast, gnarly yards.
But no matter: I loved it right from the start. Easy to push. No fuss, no muss, no fumes. It’s so deliciously quiet that I can listen to chirping birds and chatty neighbors while mowing — or my iPod.
My S.O. loves the Momentum so much that lately he’s been mowing the lawn twice a week, just for kicks. I prefer the yard in a more lush and lazy state, so I might have to start chaining the mower up on weekdays.
But don’t just listen to me gush. Listen to Martha gush. Or listen to this friendly garden guy gush:
Random addendum: If you ever find yourself in Finland (and doesn’t everyone eventually?), visit Fiskars Village, where the company was founded as an ironworks in 1649. These days, the lovingly restored buildings are home to an artists’ community with charming shops, museums, restaurants, and B&Bs. You might even spot an otter in the Fiskars River.