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Once Jason and I move to the country (as we VERY MUCH want to do), I doubt we’ll do much mowing. Maybe right around the house, so we can be sure we aren’t stepping on a snake as we walk through the yard, but for the most part, we are content to let nature do its thing unhindered. Unfortunately, we’re stuck in the suburbs for now, in a neighborhood that requires you to keep your lawn mowed (and tickets you if you don’t). Now that summer is upon us (well, spring, but it feels like summer), we have to mow the yard every two weeks or so to keep if manageable, and while Jason was out pushing our mower around over the weekend, it occurred to me that some of you might be interested in what it’s like to mow with a motorless mower.

Most people using the Internet today won’t remember motorless mowers, and see them only in reruns of such classics as “Leave it to Beaver,” although in truth the mowers are still being made. Jason and I made the decision to buy one a few summers back when we were in need of one, and bought ours at Lowes for about $125. Honestly, you can buy a cheap push mower with a motor for about the same price, so you don’t buy a motorless mower for initial savings. Here are some of the reasons we decided to go motorless:

– Less┬ámaintenance. Our mower has never broken, and even if it does one day, it isn’t exactly a difficult piece of machinery to figure out. I expect it will eventually need the blades resharpened, but overall, we expect it to last longer than a regular mower would.

– The only fuel it requires is good, old fashioned, hard work. Granted, I don’t think regular mowers require an irrational amount of gas to fuel, but it is nice to not even have to bother with getting the gas can and running to the station just so we can mow the lawn. And the mower will never run out of gas and sputter to a stop mid-way through mowing! Not to mention the ecological benefits of not burning fossil fuels!

– We have a small front yard. And by small, I mean average size for a suburban home. If I we had a particularly large yard, than a regular mower might make more sense, but isn’t really necessary for a yard of our size. As for the back yard, we’ve only just recently gotten grass to grow back there, and we have no intention of mowing it, since we prefer it untamed, and we’re the only ones who ever go back there, anyway.

– It’s exercise. One of my pet peeves with American society is that we’ve become lazy with luxury. Jason and I like having lifestyles that require us to get exercise, instead of having to take time out of our days to go to the gym. It’s how our forefathers lived, and it’s how we try to live as well. When is the last time you saw an obese Amish person?

– And speaking of that – it fits in with our ideals for a simpler lifestyle. Why buy all the bells and whistles, when something plain will do just fine?

And, although they weren’t really factors when we decided to buy our mower, I will also point out that a motorless mower is much quieter than a regular mower, and takes less space to store.

So now that you know our reasons for why we bought a motorless mower, you may be wondering how they compare to regular mower, in terms of getting the job done. I snapped some before and after pictures so you could get an idea. I forgot to get pictures of the main part of our yard before he mowed it, but these pictures of the small strip between our driveway and neighbor’s should do the trick. This was not our first mowing of the season, so the grass wasn’t terribly tall, but we try not to let it get any higher than this.

This was taken just as Jason started mowing the strip.

And here he is halfway through. The left side has been mowed; the right side has not.

And here it is after being mowed. We never pick up the clippings, preferring to just let them compost where they are (it’s good for the grass!). The mower actually came with a bag attachment to catch the clippings as you mow, but we took it off, as we weren’t really happy with it (it never seemed to work properly).

Here’s a shot of the mower in action.

Overall, the mower does a good job cutting our grass, but it’s taken some practice to perfect our methods. Here are some of the cons to a motorless mower:

– Maybe it’s just because we have extra thick grass, but we can never just push the mower normally, and instead mow with a back-and-forth motion to catch all the grass. I suppose you could push it normally and just go over the entire yard several times for the same result, but we prefer to just saw our way from one side to the other.

– We have to maintain the grass regularly. Once it gets too tall, it’s a pain and a half to push through the grass, and takes three times as long. Remember, these things aren’t self-propelled – you have to force them through the grass yourself.

– It takes between forty-five minutes to an hour to mow our front yard and the strip between driveways, when it’s been maintained. Mowing with a motorless mower naturally takes longer, so be prepared. It isn’t a quick chore.

– The lawn won’t be as smooth as it will when cut with a regular mower. This isn’t really a con for us, but if you’re picky about your lawn looking perfect, motorless mowers probably aren’t for you. They get the grass trimmed, but it won’t be quite as neat.

– It can’t cut tall weeds. Unlike regular mowers, when our mower comes across a particularly tall weed, it just bends it down, and can’t catch it to cut it. No matter how many times you go over it, it just won’t work. We usually go over our yard with the weedeater to get the tall pieces if there are a bunch left after mowing.

– It’s a workout. If you can’t handle a lot of physical exercise, don’t buy a motorless mower.

It may seem like a hassle, but overall, we’ve been very pleased with our mower. It suits our needs, and that’s the major point of buying any piece of equipment, isn’t it?