Scotts Classic Push Reel Mower
For those following my discussion of push reel lawn mowers (posts here and here): I returned the Brill Luxus 38 mower. With some research on Colorado grasses it quickly became apparent that the grass needs to be cut at 2.5 to 3.0 inches. This contributes to better root growth and more efficient use of water. The Brill only goes up to 1.8 inches, so that just wouldn't work.
Not wanting to abandon the concept of reel mowers, though, I bought the only mower fitting my requirements: the Scotts Classic. Following is my experience with it over the past several months.
The Scotts Classic is about twice as heavy as the Brill mower, but it's still much lighter than any gas or electric rotary mower. Pushing it is still easy. In fact, the extra weight helps you push the mower smoothly through higher grass. Where the Brill would stall or chatter, which happened a lot on my lawn, the Scotts simply goes right through it. It doesn't stall unless you catch a twig in the blades. This is a very welcome feature.
The downside of the extra weight, however, is that the wheels compress the grass in their tracks. On the next pass you overlap the wheel tracks, but the compressed grass has only partly risen back. After the grass has fully recovered (say an hour later), the grass is slightly higher where the wheels had tracked. For better or worse, this leaves patterns in your grass visible even a week later. I will contact Scotts to see if they have suggestions for eliminating this.
The mower appears to be well-constructed. The rear follower wheels are what set the cutting height -- a clever design. The blades contact the cutting bar, as opposed to the Brill's "silent cut" design that leaves a gap, so the Scotts mower makes the distinctive clatter sound that reel mowers are known for. The Scotts is about twice as loud as the Brill, but still far quieter than even an electric rotary mower.
I did some tests to see if the Scotts actually cuts better than the Brill. My hypothesis was that since the blades contact the cutting bar, I expect this mower to leave behind fewer uncut blades of grass. This appears to be true. With the Brill I needed to overlap every row at least 50%, thus giving the mower two chances on every blade of grass. With the Scotts I only need to overlap by a couple inches to get a similar cut. In some cases, however, I go back over wheel tracks later, trying to even them out.
Overall I'm quite pleased with the mower. The mowing season is mostly over in Colorado, but I've had several good months of using it, and I expect many more.
I think the grass should be springing back faster than this. Is it possible that it needs to be watered a little more often? Your local Master Gardener program should be able to offer the best lawn care advice for your area. http://welcome.colostate.edu/
I will check with Great States and see what they say, too.
The Lawn Striper lays all of the grass down, so it would be like having a wheel go all the way across - it is 21 inches wide. You go one direction, then the other to get the striped look. You can add weight to it also to maximize the effect.
Marjorie is likely correct that watering is a factor. I had adjusted my watering schedule several times this fall while taking care of a grass fungus issue, and that could certainly be contributing to the problem. I am tempted to try the Lawn Striper in any case -- that might give the lawn a nice finish.
Great States (manufacturer of the Scotts Classic mower) replied:
There is nothing wrong with the mower, it is just the mower wheels laying the grass down. You might suggest that if he is mowing back and forth that he go around the yard and this would give that grass time to raise up to get cut evenly. Or suggest he go back over those areas that are higher.
(I never asserted anything was wrong with the mower; this is just a property of how it works.)