Where to get a good push lawnmower?
June 2, 2008 4:22 PM   Subscribe

What is the best brand/model of push lawnmower?

I'm looking for a push lawnmower that can handle a smallish lawn without endlessly jamming. Would prefer something tough without plastic parts.
posted by theinsectsarewaiting to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I mean a human-powered push lawnmower.
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 4:26 PM on June 2, 2008

Best answer: I have no idea of the make of my own indestructible reel mower but my in-laws have the small mower on this page and have no complaints. Lee Valley is known for their quality goods.
posted by saucysault at 4:57 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Buy a Brill.
posted by caddis at 5:19 PM on June 2, 2008

I can't recommend Toro enough. Buy the most expensive one you can afford. I love those things.
posted by Shohn at 5:23 PM on June 2, 2008

I bought mine secondhand (or, uh, 'vintage'--yeah, that's it), and it's probably older than I am. I had the blades sharpened, and regreased the moving parts, and it's pretty nice. Some of my pals have a modern one--the cheapest one Home Depot sells--and it's pretty okay (if it's not this one, it's very similar). The handle's really flimsy, but that's its biggest problem. Reel mowers are pretty much optimized, and even the cheapie ones are pretty good.

But if you want to blithely run over stumps and stones and whatnot, a reel mower probably won't accommodate that preference. There will be less jamming as you adjust to the mower--possibly mowing more often, alternating directions on successive mowings, picking stuff up as you go along, etc., and also just the muscle memory of it. It's very different than using a regular mower. I'll compare it to a fixed-gear bike versus a geared one, partially because I'm hoping to spark a fad where people put pink wheels, Burberry plaid pads and leather hand grips on European lawnmowers from twenty years ago. Bit I digress. There's a technique. Think smoothness and momentum.

Also, and even if you buy one new, it probably wouldn't hurt to get the blades sharpened.
posted by box at 5:27 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not a Task Force. Ours just stopped turning properly after a year. Has a two-year warranty, hopefully it's painless.
posted by starman at 6:14 PM on June 2, 2008

Half the price of a Brill and one of the only push mowers that give you the option of a recommended 3" cutting height (Brill's go less than 2" ) is the wonderful Scotts Classic.
posted by rhizome at 6:29 PM on June 2, 2008

That is the downside of the Brill. It's a beautiful mower, but it is designed for English lawns and the like where they water, fertilize and manicure them like golf courses, practically like golf course greens. Nevertheless, two inches is sufficiently long for even a natural, no chemical lawn.
posted by caddis at 6:44 PM on June 2, 2008

seconding the Scotts. we've had ours for years and years. it will get stuck if you snag a good sized stick, but otherwise it works very very well. and we have a pretty big yard.
posted by RedEmma at 7:14 PM on June 2, 2008

When we researched this for our mower purchase five years ago, I found that most reel mowers were made by the same company and simply badged by the manufacturers. This seems to be the case in far too many industries right now, simply the illusion of choice hiding behind different marketing schemes.

Our Kenmore was made by American Lawn Mower and works fine. The foam handle cover got ratty rather quickly and it now covered in hockey tape.

I don't think any reel mower will allow you to run over sticks. On lazy days, I just back the mower up and hope that when the stick drops, it's not lined up correctly to jam again.
posted by advicepig at 8:39 PM on June 2, 2008

I would like you to know that I spent about a month screwing about trying to do exactly what you're doing now, before caving and buying a Bully LawnPup, an electric rear-catch mower made almost entirely of plastic. I'm happier with it than I would have believed possible, and completely glad that I did not in fact end up with a reel mower.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:08 AM on June 3, 2008

I will second the Brill. Great mower, I've had it for ~3 years, no problems. But I'll also second caddis's warning. The Brill's highest setting is something like 45mm. Not quite high enough for my tastes.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:12 AM on June 3, 2008

Around here anyway, I've had good luck at the "re-use" places.

(In particular, the little shop the Sonoma dump has, for all you Bay Areans.)

People are always getting rid of their grandpa's push mower. They're all metal and I've never had trouble with jamming. You might have to sharpen the blades, though, which is a nuisance.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:52 AM on June 3, 2008

I have one called "Great States" from American Lawn Mower Co. It works great on just plain grass. It does not do so well with the dandelions that sprout up overnight; I need a weedwhacker for those.
posted by medeine at 12:13 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I bought a 70's Lawnboy cordless electric push mower at a farm auction for $15. I had to spend $90 replacing the 3 motorcycle batteries it uses, though, as well as clean all of the electrical connections. It lasts about 45 minutes on a charge, and does a good job - much better than a reel mower. It has plastic in the same places that any other Lawnboy from that era would - the base and wheels are the same. I'm sure it would go for much longer with a sharper blade on a better lawn, too.
posted by rfs at 12:56 PM on June 3, 2008

I bought a Scott Classic last summer and used it for about three months, before the blades stopped turning with the wheels. When I took it apart (about 30 seconds with a screwdriver) the cause was obvious -- the pinion gears had stripped. The steel part that engages the pinion gear had eaten enough of the gear away that it would no longer engage, after mowing my postage-stamp-sized lawn maybe a dozen times. Grrr.

Obviously the geniuses at American Lawnmower had decided that to save $0.70 per lawnmower they would make the pinion gears out of nylon, rather than steel. The good news is that American Lawnmower will replace stripped gears if you call them, no questions asked, and the gears are easy to replace. So if you go with the Scott Classic, call the manufacturer immediately to get a spare set -- you'll probably need them.
posted by harkin banks at 3:01 PM on June 3, 2008

I had a Scotts Classic and was disappointed with the performance. It did not handle weeds (tall dandelions, I'm looking at you!) well at all and if the grass got too long, it didn't provide a good cut. I had the blades sharpened twice as well as self-sharpened them (with a kit from Scotts) and it made no difference. Perhaps I got a dud, but please note if you are going the human-propelled route, you are able to mow on a regular basis as long grass caused me problems.
posted by Twicketface at 11:47 AM on June 5, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks all, I ended up going the Lee Valley route.
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 10:53 AM on June 9, 2008

« Older More muffins more muffins more muffins!   |   Roll-Over Translations Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.