November 17th, 2007
More Leaves Than Lawn

Zanthan Gardens lawn
2007-11-16. Happiness is a lawn without leaves.

Three years ago I replaced my old gas mulching mower with reel mower. Overall I’ve been pleased with it. I enjoy the quiet whirl of its blades as I mow and am happy not to mess with gasoline or breathe fumes. Keeping these benefits in mind I’ve tried to overlook how difficult I find mowing St. Augustine grass with it. St. Augustine is a running type grass with coarse blades that stick out in all directions. The reel mower is more suited to a fine-bladed grass which grows straight up. In the summertime, it’s best to cut St. Augustine very tall to conserve water. The blades on the reel mower couldn’t be adjusted as high as on the old gas-powered mulching mower.

Looking my evaluation of the reel mower in my original post, I see that the problem I tried to ignore and couldn’t is that I really need a mulching mower. My yard doesn’t have much lawn left but it is covered in large trees. I relied on my old gas mower to mulch the leaves into the lawn. Cedar elm leaves are small and break down quickly when mowed over. Later in the season when the red oak leaves fell, I’d rake them into piles and run the mulching mower over them before putting them in the compost pile. Without a mulching mower, trying to keep the garden looking tidy in autumn is a losing battle.

So this week I bought a electric mulching mower, a Black & Decker Lawn Hog from I chose the model without the flip handle as I don’t have the kind of lawn that can be mowed by walking in neat straight lines. delivered it the day after I bought it and although I’ve only used it twice and am pretty happy with it.

Many people in the review found avoiding the extension cord annoying. Certainly it’s something to be constantly aware of when you’re mowing but I didn’t find it any more difficult than vacumning. In fact, using the electric mower feels more like vacumning than mowing.

* quiet (Not as quiet as the reel mower but much more quiet than a gas-powered mower. It’s no louder than my vacumn cleaner.)
* easy to start (Pull the handle, it comes on. Release the handle, it goes off.)
* mulches
* no gas fumes
* easy to adjust the height from very low to very high

* heavier than the push mower (This is not a problem while mowing but it makes it harder to get it up the steps to the lawn.)
* very long length (The length of the mower from the front wheels to the back wheels is much longer than I’m used to and makes it slightly more difficult to maneuver.)

If anyone wants a reel mower, let me know. I even have the blade sharpening kit that goes with it.

by M Sinclair Stevens

3 Responses to post “More Leaves Than Lawn”

  1. From Steve Mudge (Fort Worth):

    Gotta say, I like the gas mowers best–tons of power, maneuverability, and lightweight. We had a reel mower and it was more hassle than it was worth (and didn’t mulch the leaves in the fall). As far as carbon imprint and pollution–we’ve barely used a gallon of fuel all year (never watering the lawn helps that…).

    I agree with the strategy of using less water and less fertilizer to reduce the need to mow frequently. That’s my plan, too! This time of year I’m mowing mainly to clean up the leaves. — mss

  2. From bill:

    We had an electric mower back when I was growing up in the sixties. It was home-made. You have to get used to keeping the cord out of the way, but it was way easier than vacuuming. When I am vacuuming I always manage to wrap the cord around my leg and trip myself.

  3. From Pam/Digging:

    I hate vacuuming because I always get the cord trapped under the vacuum or wrapped around a table leg. I’d have to really watch out with an electric mower!

    Back in my lawn days, I used a gasoline mulching mower and loved it. Nowadays, for my little lawnette of zoysia, I’m trying a reel mower, and it’s working out pretty well. The grass is easier to mow than St. Augustine, and I LOVE the quiet clicking of the reel mower compared to the old roar of the power mower. The electric does sound like a nice compromise between power and noise.

    I don’t know whether you’d prefer to give them away as a set, but if not, I’d be delighted to have the blade-sharpening kit for my reel mower.

    Sure you can have the blade-sharpening kit. I’ll drop it off the next time I’m up your way. — mss