For years, I hired landscapers to mow our lawn. The entire job usually took them about fifteen minutes. I would come home and gaze with despair at the wreckage of the plants at the front of my perennial border, or the wilted, shredded fragments of the clematis that had been weed whacked FOR THE HUNDREDTH TIME!!! The trees were getting whacked by the trimmer, too, and forget trying to preserve the foliage from the spring bulbs I grow in the lawn. I tried to explain to him what I wanted cut and what to leave alone. I even did the edging myself, but I still lost way too many plants.
The final straw came last September. The grass was hardly growing, so I asked him if he could cut the grass every two weeks instead of once a week. He informed me that it had to be every week or nothing, so I decided that nothing it would be.
Yes! I would do it myself, get some exercise, and save my plants, and $152 per month in the process! I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and I bought this:
I am the proud owner of a Brill Razorcut 38 push reel lawnmower. “Not your father’s old push mower!” everyone assured me. This mower is said to be a breeze to use and only needs sharpening every ten years! Ten years! I was sold. About a week later, my Brill arrived, and a fellow Master Gardener and I proceeded to put it together.
The mower is made in Germany (like Mercedes!) and the manual was a virtual United Nations of instructions, the English version of which was completely incomprehensible. And there were parts missing, so I deferred assembly until those arrived. One sunny afternoon, I somehow managed to assemble the thing and take it for a spin. It was indeed light, and made a pleasant sound as it rolled over the grass. It cut the grass very short – maybe too short – but overall I was satisfied.
The day finally came when I had to mow the entire lawn. My first mistake was not wearing gloves. My hands were blistered within half an hour. Then, something annoying began to happen. The handle was coming off the mower part at the bottom. I would have to get down on my hands and knees and get it back on, only to have it happen again in ten minutes. I finally brought the mower to our local hardware store, where a kind man installed automotive retainer clips. These, he assured me, would keep the handle on forever, and he was right. For the princely sum of 90 cents (which is why I love our local hardware store) my mower was operational again.
We are now well into June and my mower and I are developing a working relationship. I know, for instance, that at this time of year, I have to mow once a week, because it cannot handle really long grass. The other thing my mower dislikes is sticks. It will stop abruptly (and often jarringly) if it gets a stick caught in its blades, but it’s so light I can just pick the whole thing up and shake it until the stick comes out. Neighbors stop to watch me pant and sweat as I trudge back and forth, and I know that one look is enough to keep them chained to their noisy, fume-spewing gas mowers forever.
I will not sugarcoat this push mower business. What took the landscaper 15 minutes now takes me close to an hour and a half. But I am getting some great exercise, and it is quiet, and my garden is not butchered at the end of it. Best of all, I feel like I am doing an environmentally responsible thing, and my lawn really does look nice. I just have to remember to wear gloves and drink a lot of water.