My lawn looks like crap. There, I’ve said it. Spring is always tough, with frequent rain and ideal growing conditions that make the grass grow quickly, while keeping it too wet to actually mow with my old friend the reel mower.
This spring, it has been especially brutal. I nearly reached my limit with the reel mower and considered investing part of my “stimulus check” in what some (Don) call a “real” mower, complete with engine! But sanity prevailed as I realized that I had never sharpened the blades on my reel mower, and I’m now in my third grass-cutting season.
Last summer, I had idly realized that sharpening might be a good idea. I made a couple calls, and learned that there’s only one place locally that does it, and even Ace farms out the work to them. Hence, the wait would be about three weeks! If I had planned ahead and sharpened in winter, three weeks would be no problem. However, in the height of summer, the neighbors – and city – might complain if I didn’t mow my lawn for three weeks. I meant to send it off last winter, but alas – sloth prevailed.
Instead, I decided to investigate the sharpening kits that can be used spruce up the blades at home. Today, I stopped by my local Ace (I had checked Lowe’s and Home Depot for the kit while I was on my door sojourn) and picked one up for $20. I brought it home and eagerly set up living room space for my project, spreading out a grubby old towel. I followed the directions and the whole process was pretty simple. From start to finish, it took maybe 30 minutes, 45 if you count the time to run to the Citgo for WD-40. (I can’t believe I’ve been a homeowner for two years and didn’t have WD-40!)
Basically, you take apart the wheel assembly, which is remarkably simple, and then paint goo onto the blades. The goo spreads on a deep blue with flecks of sparkle, reminiscent of the bad blue-glitter nail polish high school girls wear. Then, you insert a crank into the wheel and turn it counter-clockwise at a relatively high rate of speed for ten minutes. In the process, there’s a horrific grinding noise, and the goo turns dark midnight blue. When you’re done, wipe off the blades, reassemble the wheels, and WD-40 the whole thing. I did a test drive on a small strip of front lawn and cut it in a single pass, rather than the three cross-cuts that still left maddening uneven spots throughout the yard. Dandelions are still somewhat resilient, but they’re the cockroaches of lawn care.
A huge sense of accomplishment and money saved – a very good project. Now I can keep my nice, quiet lawnmowing tradition and get some great exercise, too.