Meet my new mower, the Fiskars Momentum
I’ve owned my new Fiskars Momentum reel mower for almost a month now and I really enjoy mowing with it.
I won’t repeat all the features-doubtless you’ve read them a dozen times already. If you’ve come here via search you are probably looking for an owner’s review, so I’ll share my experience and answer some questions I had when I was considering this purchase.
My lawn details.
My yard is just under half an acre, with three deciduous trees, a spruce and a pine. A lot of wide open grass, mostly flat, but bumpy with thatch, pine cones/needles and about a 1/3 weeds (dandelions, buckthorn, creeping charlie). My grass, or what I want to keep is roughly 70% Kentucky blueglass, 20% tall fescue that decorates my lawn like polka dots and 10% clover (not grass but I’m encouraging it to spread).
The lawn was not cared for properly before I purchased the home and I was a poor groundskeeper before this year, letting the grass grow until I had to mow, which contributed to the thatch and dead grass in the lawn. I don’t use herbicides except in dire circumstances. I don’t irrigate or use fertilizers-trying to xeriscape as much as I can.
Onto to the mower review questions…
How big a yard can I mow? How long does it take?
If I mow my entire yard in one go it takes me about 3 hours-tho I’m cutting that down. Usually, I’ll cut roughly 1/3 of the lawn at a time.
Is it quiet?
Yes. If the blades are properly aligned you shouldn’t hear anything when moving the blades manually. When you mow, you’ll hear a soft susurrus as you push the mower through the grass. It really sounds like scissors opening and closing. It’s a rather zen sound.
I mow in the evening when possible-if I’m on one side of the yard my kids can’t hear the mower on the other side. They can hear the one-sided commentary I give while listening to an audio book or podcast, if that gives you an idea of the decibel level.
Is it well constructed and sturdy?
Yes. The handle doesn’t twist like some I’ve tried and the chassis is solid. The front wheels are made of a plastic that seems to gouge easily, but though they aren’t pretty anymore they are holding up. I did take the advice of a comment I saw on another website and put washers between the cotter pins and handle bars to help reduce wear in that spot.
Is it hard to push?
I’ve used an American reel mower weighing 19lb off and on for a few years, so seeing that the Fiskars Momentum weighed in at 51lb was worrying to me. I’m short, chunky and generally out of shape. The reality: it was a dream to push. Yes, you do have to actually push but once you get going you really don’t notice it. My elderly neighbor even came over and gave it a try-she didn’t have any trouble either. I’d say it’s easier to push than a normal gas mower (not self-propelled).
How often do you have to mow?
Textbook answer: when the grass is 1/3 longer than you like it.
If you are like I was with my gas mower you only mow when you think you’ll be getting a notice from the city if you don’t. You are supposed to mow more often than most people do.
I try to mow part of my yard every evening. That way I don’t fall behind and let it get too tall-the bane of any reel mower.
A nice feature of this mower is that the cutting height is very easy to adjust. No scews to adjust as on typical reel mowers, but rather a sliding gauge like those you see on rotary mowers. If you keep your lawn short (1-2 inches) and let it slide a little you can raise the cutting height so you aren’t cutting more than 1/3 of the leaf, then cut again at the shorter height a few days later.
Okay, so what if I don’t mow that often?
We recently had heavy rain for three days and one area ended up being a little taller than normal (7 or 8 inches). Normally I mow at just under 3 inches. When I was able to mow I set the height at 4 inches and mowed. I noticed a lot more grass that escaped the blades. I’ll be mowing it again tomorrow (2 days later) at my normal height. I’ll probably have to mow perpendicular to catch everything. Lesson: Try not to skip mowing.
How does it handle twigs, pine cones and tall weeds?
At ~3 inch cutting height, the mower glides over most of the pine cones in my yard. I do try to pick them up, but….
Twigs are another matter. Normal reel mowers will stop solid on a twig about the diameter of a pencil. The Fiskars website says it’ll blast through twigs, but history has made me cautious so I do a quick walk through the yard before I mow, then watch the unmowed row next to me to catch any twigs I’ve missed. I have run over a few and it doesn’t stop as easily as most reels, but I’d rather not take the chance of nicking my blade if I can avoid it.
Weeds? It’ll cut down anything at the right height, but leave dandelion stalks standing up like flagpoles in my newly-shorn lawn. On the bright side, this makes them very easy to spot so you can dig them up manually or spray with an herbicide.
Finally- Is it really worth $200? That’s a lot for a reel mower.
Fiskars vs. gasoline mowers
Annoyance factor: Gas mowers are noisy, smelly (unless you like eau de petrol) and a pain to start and maintain. You can’t mow late in the evening so you’ll be spending more of your weekends mowing in the hot sun.
Green factor: I won’t hype all the mowers vs cars emissions stats you see all over the web. I’m sure some of them are wildly misinterpreted and skewed. But the fact remains-with a reel mower you have no emissions to fret over.
Cost: This link says a household will use 5 gallons of gas over a summer to mow/trim 1/3 acre, so that’s about 7.5 gal for me, plus at least half a gallon running to the gas station. With gas roughly $3.75 a gallon now in my area (and only expected to rise) and $4 for oil and $8 for blade sharpening and that’s about $42 I’m not spending each year just on basic upkeep. The real savings is probably more. So that takes the $200 (at Lowes) price down to $158. Can you even buy a decent gasoline-powered rotary for that much? And that’s just the first year. In five years (about the time you’ll need to spend $30 or so on blade sharpening) this will have paid for itself in what you saved on gas et. al. and still be ready to give you many years of good service (yes-that is an assumption on my part but google it – they do last a long time.
Fiskars vs. electric mowers
Annoyance factor: Unless you have a cordless you’ll be dragging that dang electric cord around and spend hours calculating the path that lets you mow without constantly re-arranging the cord so you don’t mow over it. The Yardwise electric mower I owned wasn’t quite as noisy as a gas-powered mower, but I still couldn’t listen to my mp3 player unless I had the volume up pretty high.
Green factor: If you do go cordless, you still have to contend with the pollution caused by the manufacture and disposal of the battery.
Cost: Baseline corded electric mowers start around $130. Electricity is maybe $3/yr (ymmv). You’ll still need to do yearly sharpening on the blade ($6) and buy an extension cord ($15), so the first year you’ll spend more for the Fiskars and it’ll take about seven to break even on the price with the cheapest electric I could find. A decent cordless electric will cost you a lot more than the Fiskars plus you’ll have the yearly costs.
Fiskars vs. Reel Mowers
Annoyance factor: Most reel mowers mow short-as low as half an inch to 3 inches or so. Adjusting the height has been a pain on the version I own, but maybe that’s just me. You need to keep up with your lawn even more than you would with the Fiskars to keep the cutting work easy. I am biased, but this isn’t a huge annoyance to me. The greater cutting height is a boon, however, since I’m trying to keep my lawn a little taller to crowd out weeds.
Green factor: I don’t know, but suspect it probably takes more emissions to manufacture the Fiskars, give that it has some plastic parts.
Cost: A high-end reel like a Brill will cost you more than the Fiskars, but you can get a cheaper mower like my American for about $80-$100. These less-expensive options are usually contact reels and you’ll need to buy a sharpening kit ($20) and sharpen it every year unless you really really want a fierce workout and choppy cut mowing with a dull blade. But other than that, they don’t have extra maintenance fees so if you are purely economically-motivated a cheaper reel may be the way to go.
Bottom line and my choice: the Fiskars Momentum
I’ve mowed with gas and electric rotary mowers and one other manual reel mower. My Fiskars Momentum is my favorite so far. No gas fumes, noise and it’s easier for me to push than my old reel.
I hope this article helped you. If you have other questions feel free to post and I’ll try to answer those.