A manual mower is a lawn mower which is pushed and powered by hand, with no engine to move the mower blades. Using a manual mower requires more effort on the part of the person doing the mowing, but it is more environmentally sound than using a powered mower, because it does not require gasoline or electricity. Many hardware and garden supply stores sell manual mowers, and they can also be ordered through specialty companies.
Most manual mowers are of the reel mower design, which involves a set of blades mounted on a spinning cylinder. As someone walks forward with the mower, the reel turns, and the rotating blades cut the grass. Most reel mowers have at least five blades, creating a whirling vortex of blades which is designed to cut grass smoothly and efficiently. The height of the blades can be adjusted for people who want a shorter or taller lawn; tall lawns are less prone to developing weeds.
Using a manual mower is very simple. The mower is equipped with a handle, allowing someone to stand behind the mower and push it over the lawn. Some manual mowers also have a clipping collecting bag, so that the lawn does not need to be raked after mowing. Using the mower can be a bit of a workout on a big lawn, but the reel mower tends to be easier to control, and it can be easier to handle on small or irregularly shaped lawns.
There are several benefits of manual lawn mowers. The first is that they require minimal maintenance. They do not need to be fueled, and they do not have parts such as spark plugs which need to be routinely replaced. Starting a manual mower is a snap, and the only major maintenance which needs to occur is sharpening, which should take place every one to two years. Sharpening kits are available from many hardware stores.
Using a manual mower can be a great form of exercise, and it benefits the environment, since it does not generate any pollutants or utilize fossil fuels. Especially for someone with a small lawn, a manual mower can be a great choice because it is easy to handle and much cheaper than a power mower.
The major disadvantage to a manual mower is that this type of mower is not equipped to handle tall grass and weeds. If a lawn or lot has gotten out of control, it will be necessary to use a scythe, machete, weed whacker, or similar tool to roughly cut the weeds and grass down to a manageable height. It's a good idea to use a manual mower about once a week to make sure that the height of the grass stays manageable.