m. spencer green/associated press


Some people are switching over from electric- or gas-powered mowers to reel push mowers, for a variety of reasons.


Warm weather brings birdsong and chirping crickets, but also the less welcome buzz of lawn mowers at work.

Noisy, gas-powered mower engines are energy-inefficient and contribute to greenhouse gases, small particle pollution and health problems, The Green Guide says in the current issue of its consumer newsletter.

Electric lawn mowers produce less than one per cent of the smog-contributing carbon monoxide that gas mowers put out, tend to be quieter than gas equivalents, and have 10-year operating costs that are less than half those of gas mowers.

Reel push mowers are a still better bet, with no electricity costs, no on-site emissions and a much lower price tag, The Green Guide says; www.thegreenguide.com.

Water wise

The Environmental Protection Agency says that landscape irrigation is estimated to account for almost one third of all residential water use, totalling more than 26 billion litres per day.

Happily, gardeners can easily adopt some water-saving habits.

The Green Guide suggests that as summer arrives and temperatures rise, you should resist the idea that your lawn needs constant watering to stay golf-course green. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Use a sprinkler timer. Timers will automatically shut off your sprinkler system after a set period so you don’t have to remember. Sprinkler timers are available at gardening supply and houseware stores.

  • Use sprinklers that emit large drops of water, low and close to the ground (so as not to waste water on the sidewalk or street).

  • Water early in the morning to make sure the water soaks into the soil instead of evaporating. A sprinkler with flexible nozzles lets you spray the water right where you need to.

  • Don’t automatically water every day. Test the lawn first to see if it needs water. If you step on the grass and it springs back easily, it doesn’t need water.

    Or, try pushing a long screwdriver into the lawn. If you can push it easily for several centimetres, you don’t need to water.

  • While it may be tempting to spray off your driveway and sidewalk while you’ve got the hose out, save the water for the yard and use the broom on the driveway.

Mowing safety

Mowing the lawn can be dangerous for children, even with parents present. That reminder for parents who may think of letting their children help with lawn mowing this summer comes from a group of concerned physicians, along with their tips on safety precautions.

In a phone conversation about safety, Dr. Lawrence Colen, president of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), pointed out there are different issues for different age groups, calling for very basic common sense.

First thing that came to mind with the four- to five-year-olds is to “make sure they’re not near the mower,” he said.

Although giving your kid a ride on dad’s lap on the mower may sound like fun, Colen warns: “That’s a big no-no.”

The ideal age for children to ride a mower is when they turn 15 or 16. “They’re usually responsible enough to understand the implications of not paying attention (at that age),” he said.

More than 220,000 people, including some 16,500 children under 19, were treated in doctors’ offices, clinics and emergency rooms for lawn mower-related injuries in the US in 2006 according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports.