Monthly Archives: May 2010

Aromatherapy at Each Meal

Aromatherapy at Each Meal: Having a meal with the lovely pine scent in the background is quite a treat. This is not the reason we offer these handmade pine needle placemats but it is a factor.

The Placemats: While we were visiting friends in Valle de Bravo, Mexico, we came across these placemats at an outdoor market. They were stunning and we purchased 8 for our home. Now ten years later, the placemats still accompany many meals per week.

The Scent and Feel: After ten years the placemats still give off the wonderful pine scent. The touch and feel of the placemats give a nice tactile stimulation. It is a pleasure to have these and remember our trips to Mexico.


How to Transition your Lawn from a Rotary Mower to a Reel Mower

scissor-like cut of a reel mower is healthier for the lawn

scissor-like cut of a reel mower is healthier for the lawn

Over this last 13 years, our family run, eco-mission based company has sold over 50,000 push reel mowers and these are answers to the most common customer questions and problems when mowing with a reel mower, especially as you transition from a rotary mower over to a reel mower. The obvious ones such as no longer needing to buy gas and oil or maintain spark plugs. And the garden quiet-time you achieve when you mow with a silent reel mower (read my noise rant here!) (see noise charts for mowers here).

One of the not so obvious differences is you mow differently. First of all, the grass needs to be 4″ or less when you mow or the first time will be tough. It’s best to use a grass catcher when the grass is long. Next you’ll need to overlap by about a 1/4 of the reel cutting blades to have good results. As time goes by you won’t need to overlap so much, but to start you will. Overlapping is one marked difference between the two types of mowing. The second time you mow, mow perpendicular to the direction you mowed the first time. So if you mowed in a north-south direction, mow in an east-west direction the second time. Remember to overlap while you mow by about a 1/4 of the reel blades. The third time you mow, mow north-south. The fourth time you mow, mow east-west. After your fourth mowing, your lawn should be looking great. The following information is from our page on mowing with a reel mower ::

First Time Mowing Tips :

Sticks and Stones….
Like any lawn mower, reel or rotary,  reel mowers are not made to mow over sticks, stones or hard objects. If you have lots of trees and can’t pick up the sticks, then a reel mower is probably not for you. And I personally have found moles to be my nemesis when it comes to reel mowing. Anyone know how to get rid of moles…please post that here! (Castor oil is not working)

Check your mowing height controls :
Yes, people have set merrily off on their way without making sure the knobs are installed right and tightened. The blade can move around if the height adjustments are not tight, so give a quick look there.

Just Common Sense :
Do a quick two minute wipe down of the blades and before you mow, spray the blades with a silicone spray. This will protect your blades. After you finish mowing, wipe the blades clean with a rag. This takes two minutes.

The right grass height for reel a mower to cut :

Common recommendations are for Rotary Mowers :
For over 200 years, before the rotary power mower, hardly a lawn on earth was mowed higher than 1.5 inches! Today’s common mowing height recommendations are generally based on the requirements of the common rotary power mower (90% of the U.S., market) rather than the grass itself. These recommendations do not apply to reel mowers.

Rotary Mowers damage grass at lower settings :
Rotary power-mowed lawns must be mowed higher to compensate for the repeated disturbance to the lawn as well as to avoid browning and scalping injury. The rotary blade cuts the grass blade on impact. It causes a degree of mutilation and injury to the leaf blade at the point of impact. The industry understands that rotary mowers cannot give a quality cut lower than 1.5 inch Mowing heights.

Reel mowers can and should mow lower :
With a reel mower you may always cut to the lowest recommended height and be confident of a naturally healthy lawn. You can usually mow a grass that spreads horizontally shorter than an upright-growing bunch-type grass. Grasses with narrow blades can generally be mowed closer than grasses with wide blades. Mow turf grasses under stress — such as heat, drought or shade — at a higher level of cut. Reel mowers have been proven over 200 years of worldwide use at these lower heights.

Mowing Frequency :

Mow regularly :
(easier said than done!) A good rule-of-thumb is to remove no more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing. For example, if you are maintaining your lawn at 2 inches, mow the lawn when it is about 3 inches high. Cutting off more than one-third at one time can stop the roots from growing and would require frequent watering during dry summers to keep the plants alive. Also, following the one-third rule will produce smaller clippings that will disappear quickly by filtering down to the soil surface.

So you went on vacation…now what?
OK, we admit, this can be the challenging part of mowing with a reel. If the grass becomes too tall between mowings, raise the mowing height and then gradually reduce it until the recommended height is reached. Push reel lawn mowers are not made to cut very high grass, although they are capable if you have extra time and energy. They cut best when the lawn is 2.5 to 4.0 inches high. If your lawn is overgrown, for best results, overlap your next cut by about a third of the width of the Brill’s blades.

Brill Accu Note ::
The Brill razorcut accu electric reel mower mows thru overgrown grass with ease. It won’t be perfect, and you will go thru the battery quicker, but it is much easier with an electrically driven reel! So if you are an erradic mower and still want a reel…the Accu is a better choice.

Cheat :
I am not above getting out my electric trimmer / weed wacker and going after really overgrown areas. And if things have really gotten out of control (about 1 every 2 years), I will borrow a neighbors mower…and unfortunately for me it is a gas one. Which is probably a good thing because then I remember how awful and smelly, noisy,  and unpleasant mowing with a gas mower is and get my resolve back never to borrow that thing again.

For Overgrown Lawns Use The Grass Catcher :
When the grass is very high, we recommend using a grass catcher. The catcher will prevent the blades from filling up with long grass, and you can use the clippings in your composter. If the blades do fill up, clear the grass with a gloved hand or brush. Also, check the mower for grass clumps when you are done.

Having problems :

When we hear about people who have been less than satisfied with their first experience mowing with a reel mower, inevitably the reasons are :

  • the grass is too high
  • the lawn has not been cleared of sticks and stones
  • lawn is too large or bumpy.
  • It rains a lot in my town and the grass is always wet travel frequently, which causes my grass to grow too long”

If you know your grass is high, we suggest borrowing a neighbor’s electric mower or hiring a lawn service for the first cut of the season. After the initial cut, mowing a lawn of a 6000 sq. feet or less with a reel mower should meet your mowing expectations.


Related Info:

Finally, a High Quality Clothesline that Looks Great

highest quality clothesline

An easy way to lower your footprint:
We finally found a clothes line we like! Looks good enough that our neighbors won’t complain! The Australian manufactured Hills Clotheslines are now being sold by People Powered Machines. These very high quality clotheslines feature many options and sizes.

Better for your clothes, better for the earth:
Be good to your clothes and the earth at the same time. Static electricity and shrinkage are not issues when clothes are hung on a line vs. using a dryer. Clothing hung on a line lasts longer and smells fresher. And all that fuzz that collects in the dryer’s lint basket is actually your clothing breaking down thread by thread.

Highest quality, durable clothesline out there:
Largest hoist available. Specially designed for durability and strength. Main assembly is constructed of powder-coated galv. steel. Lines are sectioned individually for easy replacement. When not in use, can be folded umbrella-style or completely removed from ground socket (included). When raised, the Rotary 500 will spin in the breeze. With arms open and latched, the Rotary 500’s starting height is 5.6ft (3-2in spacers included for added height if desired). Hand crank allows for lines to be raised an additional 16in. The Rotary 500 holds the largest amount of clothes and linens, with a total line length of almost 184ft. (56m). Comes with a 10 year guarantee.

Video about the Fiskar’s Reel Mower

Watch this video to see all the environmental benefits that using a reel mower comes with.  The Fiskar Momentum Reel Mower creates a cleaner that leaves grass strong and healthy!

Small Electric Riding Mower has GREAT Product Support

Recharge Electric Riding Lawnmower

Recharge Electric Riding Mower:
The Recharge Mower, has been out for a year, and we just have to say, this company provides the most personal and timely support we have ever seen. One of the criteria for us to endorse and carry a product is great company service, and this very large product 😉 comes with huge support!

Recharge Mower Help:
If a Recharge Mower arrives, and you have any difficulty, help is an email away. Once we get that email  informing us of a product support need, you are called  usually within the hour of your request. That call can may even come from the president of the company who regularly monitors all feedback! Wow.  Recharge Mower want happy satisfied customers who will carry the message that if you need a riding mower, there are alternatives to gas!


Recommended Lawn Sizes :
So far the Recharge Mower is working really well on lawns up to 1 and 1/2 acres. And it easily handles grass up to 10″ high.

Great Customer Feedback  :
Here is a recent customer comment on this environmentally solid alternative to gas riding mower pollution!

I used to use a push mower to mow 3/4 acre because i did not want the hassle of maintaining a traditional riding lawn mower. After reviewing several different riding lawn mowers, I decided on the Recharge Mower. It was delivered within a week of placing my order. It came almost completely assembled and took only 15 minutes to attach the seat and steering wheel. The instructions and tools to install these items were also included. The mower is sooooooo simple to operate and makes cutting my lawn so much easier. In addition, I love the fact that it is completely maintenance free, makes very little noise, and good for the environment.

It takes a Bathtub of Water to Produce One Cup of Coffee…

Here is my monthly post where I worry about the world’s water. Which I have also done in these posts-

How can our agencies not talk to each other?
Whew, so that said, I just came across a new IBM site on water management where there was a surprising fact about the infrastructure of water management.

There are nearly 53,000 water agencies in the United States alone. But there is no coordination of these agencies, despite the fact that they are all managing a shared resource. There is no sharing of data to achieve a holistic view of the entire watershed or water ecosystem. Through a combination of information gathering technology and analytics tools, global water management can be transformed, indeed reborn.

Here’s the facts and figures part:
Below is yet another chart showing the water footprints of various things. It’s in liters, which for those of you math challenged, you can convert easily here. And to give you an idea of how much water things cost to make, a typical bath is 35 gallons. So next time you order that cup of coffee, imagine that bathtub of water you just used.

Don’t forget to consider your water footprint outside:

30% of the water used on the East Coast of U.S. goes towards watering of lawns. A single golf course in Tampa, Florida uses 178,800 gallons of water every day, enough to meet the daily water needs of over 2,200 people.

A easy way to reuse grey water:
And lastly, we did have this post Use a Rain Barrel for Easy Greywater Diversion Systems for saving and reusing your grey water.

Best to all,

David Temple