Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Best Manual Push Mower Sources

Hand Push Reel Mowers part 12: Best hand push reel lawn mower resources and links

There is no abundance of sources of data for hand push reel mowers in general, although it is possible to find good input on most models of reel mowers. We rate our sources on a 3 star (*) trust system:

- Three stars ***, means excellent source with good information and high trust;
- Two stars **,  means a valuable source with some limitations;
- One Star *, means a source with limited credibility or small amounts of information

General Information on reel mowers
  • ***. Our own review, of which this is the last section, is probably the most significant organized set of information on hand push reel mowers on the web today. It includes large numbers of links for reviews and specifications, per model or per manufacturer, along with topical links in What you need to know about reel mowers. We also discussed switching to a manual mower and provided specific topical links.  
  • People Powered Machines ***: it is not often that we can give three stars to a commercial retailing site, but it is warranted in the case of  People Powered Machines. PPM, which tied for 1st in our Best Manual Mowers Online Stores, has put together, in its Guides and Info section, an excellent set of information, links and comparison charts on reel mowers (beware, however, that some of their model-specific information is not always up to date). They also carry an informative gardening tools blog.
  • CleanAirGardening **: online retailer CleanAirGardening,  which also has a good buyer's guide, maintains a large number of splash sites where they display information on reel mowers, and which point to the main site for purchase. We think it is a touch underhanded, and its spams search engines results pages, but the information is useful. has a significant number of informative articles on multiple aspects of reel mowers. is another information site maintained by CleanAirGardening, with interesting repair and maintenance information.  Reel Mower Reviews , Reel Mower Guide, and Reel Mower Models provide information on specific reel mower models (although it is sometimes obvious that the reviewer has not actually handled the reel mower itself). CleanAirGardening also has an interesting YouTube channel with many gardening videos, some of which are related to reel mowers and are truly useful, such as Sharpening a reel mower, or Adjusting height for the Scotts Classic.

Comparative and Third Party Reviews
  • Consumer Reports **: we normally expect Consumer Reports to get three stars on their comparative buying guides, but, despite many requests from their members, CR has not provided true in-depth analysis for manual push mowers. So far they have published two short comparative articles in 2008 and 2010, which sin by their lack of background and information. Hopefully they will do better soon - although we expect them to underestimate, in their ratings, the importance of user reviews on reliability, as they almost always do except for their celebrated car buying reports.
  • Consumer Search *: we would normally expect to give two to three stars to Consumer Search, in general an excellent source of consumer buying information - but in this case they mostly relied on marketing buzz generated by Fiskars in a well-funded marketing effort, such as AskMen and TheGadgetGuy  (they used to also quote Martha Stewart - thankfully they took that "reference" out), and did not conduct deep research on the subject.

User Reviews and Forums

As usual, we consider them the most valuable of all input, because they capture the feedback from owners with the same preoccupations as us. These owners have been able to live with the product and seen its many failure modes, which is not true of most "professional" reviews. At the same time, these user reviews need to be carefully filtered and evaluated. Many users are new to reel mowers, and will either praise or criticize their mower for attributes which are generic to all reel mowers, such as the fact that they are environmentally friendly (good!), or that they only fold tall weeds over rather than cutting them (bad!). User reviews from users who have owned their product for multiple years are particularly valuable, as are those from users who have owned many different products.
  • Gardenweb ***: Gardenweb is an outstanding combination of home and garden forums, with frequent postings, good members, and large amounts of available information. Their primary weakness is their limited archiving: they do not archive threads beyond a limited time horizon, typically one to two years, and many good threads fall victim of the time limit. Their best forums for reel mowers are lawn care, organic lawn care (less frequent postings), lawn mowers (primarily focused on powered mowers), and garden tools.
  • Amazon *** (for its user reviews): Amazon's reel mowers list is broad and archives large quantities of useful user reviews on many models.
  • Ecomowers *** (for its user reviews): a well designed online retailer with a limited range of reel mowers, Ecomowers has an excellent set of user reviews for the reel mowers they carry.
  • SuperStores ** (for their user reviews): Sears, Home Depot, Lowe's, all carry significant amounts of user reviews on the manual reel mowers they carry.
  • Lawn Mower Reviews *: Lawn Mower Reviews, a site dedicated to user reviews on lawn mowers, would get two or three stars if we were discussing powered mowers, but it carries almost no reviews for manual push mowers, and none of them are cataloged.
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