I really like my "old-fashioned" reel mower. It does a pretty good job, and I like getting more exercise. Not buying gasoline is also nice.

But, it is slightly less efficient at getting taller plants, as they just lay down in front of it and pop back up behind it.

Is there such a thing as a horizontal blade driven from the wheels? And if so, how do I find one? (Or what is it called so I can do a web search?)

  • 2
    It is called a scythe and does not need wheels - good for upper body exercise though.
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 11, 2020 at 8:27
  • This isn't a home improvement question. You might try gardening.stackexchange.com.
    – isherwood
    Jun 11, 2020 at 15:01
  • I just accept that some lanky weeds will not get cut by my manual reel mower. Jun 11, 2020 at 19:35
  • So do I, but if I could find a way to prevent it …
    – WGroleau
    Jun 11, 2020 at 19:40
  • I’m voting to close this question because it belongs on a gardening-related board.
    – wallyk
    Jun 12, 2020 at 18:10

3 Answers 3


Driven by wheels - No. People powered horizontal blade for taller plants, Yes indeed.

Ignoring the request for wheels, what you want is a scythe.

Scythe picture from scythe supply no endorsement implied

Having used both, I'm fond of the "European" pattern (nearly straight-snath) type rather than the heavy, very curvy "American" pattern

Owning both, I find my scythe a heck of a lot nicer to use than my big gas string trimmer. I can cut at a similar rate of speed, in quiet, and not end up covered in green goo from head to toe. It's rather like a relaxing martial art or dance.

You will need more than just a scythe, to use a scythe effectively you also need a kit to peen (hammer-shape) the blade and a stone to sharpen it - a scythe does not work well at all when dull, but it's no more hassle really than keeping string trimmer string loaded and feeding correctly.

  • 2
    I might get one just to see the look of the neighbors walking by as I’m trimming the grass overhanging the sidewalk. Jun 11, 2020 at 12:25
  • @statueuphemism be careful - you could take their head off...
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 11, 2020 at 12:31
  • @SolarMike I was thinking of angling more for the ankles personally. ;-) Jun 11, 2020 at 13:14
  • 4
    Cue the Black Knight scene from Search for the Holy Grail
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 11, 2020 at 13:16
  • Well, a scythe is a possibility, but I was hoping for rotary, with a height that does depend on my skill to maintain consistency. (And, I actually have a string trimmer that feeds itself somehow. Others feed when tapped on the ground.)
    – WGroleau
    Jun 11, 2020 at 13:50

Push lawnmowers come form an age where things weren't motorized. They cut the grass with a 'scissor' action giving a nice, clean cut (when they're sharp), which means the blades don't have to travel terribly fast to do their job.

Modern spinning-horizontal-blade mowers are simply much cheaper to manufacture and maintain. They operate by spinning at such a high speed that they simply tear the grass in two when they hit it. It wouldn't be possible (I think) to gear it such that you could get the blade spinning fast enough to actually cut the grass, without the wheel slipping (and it being very hard to push).

So, no, I don't think what you want exists.

  • The reel mower spins fast enough with wheels. I did consider the slipping problem, but I think if it had something like caterpillar treads …
    – WGroleau
    Jun 11, 2020 at 13:53
  • @WGroleau It would be too much to push, though. Look at gas reel mowers, they are in the 3hp range, and that's really because they don't make 0.5HP engines. Look at gas spinning-blade mowers, 6-7hp per blade. Jun 11, 2020 at 14:47
  • I don't understand why the same push on the same wheels can cut grass with one geometry and not with another. I guess it's because the rotary requires much more speed, since it doesn't have the stationary blade to scissor with. Hmmm.
    – WGroleau
    Jun 11, 2020 at 15:07
  • @WGroleau - Yes. Exactly that. It's an entirely different (much less efficient, but cheap) cutting action.
    – SiHa
    Jun 11, 2020 at 15:37

You're looking for a tool that's gonna do it all in one shot. That's not gonna happen. Cutting tall grass, especially with a rotary blade, takes far more power than you can generate via wheels/transmission on a push mower.

Really, that rotary push mower is a "finish mower" - it's designed to groom a lawn that is already in control.

You need to use other tools to get the lawn in control, first.

What I've always used is - gosh, it's hard to name it, but a "weed cutter", "swing grass cutter", "grass shear" or "swing cutter" or "swing blade".

enter image description here

It's vaguely like a scythe but double-faced, so you can be productive on both swings. They're crazy productive - once you use one, you won't be able to believe anyone uses string trimmers in open areas. Obviously it does take ...skill... and this person sure doesn't have it... but once you get dialed in, it makes short work of the high stuff.

Then you bring in your finish mower.

If this doesn't appeal because you don't want to have to use it every 2 weeks, then the root problem is you don't mow often enough. Power mowers will let you get away with murder: you can cut stuff 2 feet high with power mowers. Not with a push mower. You have to be "on it", and pay attention to things that affect grass growth, like rain.

  • I never said the lawn is out of control and I never mentioned tall grass. And I don't wait two weeks between mowings. I may get another one of those items you picture. Used to have one. The gas mower handles everything in one shot. The one I prefer handles everything except the occasional weed that shoots up fifteen centimeters in two days.
    – WGroleau
    Jun 11, 2020 at 17:38

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