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New Mower for Bermuda Lawn: Rotary or Reel?

15 years ago

Long time lurker, first time poster. I purchased my first home about a year ago after moving to northeast Oklahoma. I grew up on the east coast (Washington DC area, then Sandhills region of NC), and went to grad school in Austin, TX. Other than my summer jobs working golf course maintenance in high school, this is my first experience with bermuda (fescue back east, St. Aug. in TX). I can't tell if I have common or hybrid - probably a blend of both. There is a small patch of what I think is fescue to one side of my front walkway, which I suspect was put there to prevent the bermuda from growing into the adjacent bed rather than it being too shady. I'll try to post some pictures at some point.

After I moved into the house last year, my mower died on me for a couple of weeks. It's a Briggs-powered Murray mulcher/side-discharger that I typically mulch with. It was the cheapest option from Home Depot a couple years back when I needed to take care of the yard of the house I was renting in college. Thus, with the mower out of commission for a while, the bermuda got long, stalky, brown, and thin. The mower is back up and running after some tinkering with the carb this spring. I'm not sure what the current height of cut is, but I know it's too high. Pair that with me not laying down pre-emergent last fall and winter (can you say plantain infestation?), some low spots, compaction, and my yard is a mess. I do not have an irrigation system, but we've had a pretty wet growing season so far, so I'm pretty confident that the 1" a week requirement is being met by mother nature. A soil test from OSU extension is one of my priorities.

Anyway, it's time for a new mower. Originally I had decided to go with the Honda HRX217HXA. It would give me bagging capability, has a lot of great features, solid reviews, and can drop down to 3/4". I'm not sure how swirly the yard will end up being, but with a 20%-off coupon for HD, it seemed like a choice that would last me a while. I'd prefer to buy it from an independent dealer, but they won't honor the coupon, and saving almost $150 is hard to pass up.

However, as I get close to pulling the trigger, I've become envious of okcdan's great looking lawn and know from his experience that with proper care and the tools I've picked up through the GW forums, I could have my lawn looking just as good. The golfer in me really wants that fairway look, and while I can't see dropping thousands on a Toro triplex, a nice Tru-Cut could be in my future.

So I thought I'd throw my situation out there and see what opinions come back. I like the thought of having the rotary bagger, if for nothing else than to help pick up leaves in the fall. Its low height of cut would buy me some time and be an improvement over what I have until I can splurge for the reel (I'm also trying to furnish the house). I have an area outside of the fenced portion of my backyard with a basketball court and creek frontage that I'd like to cut a little higher. I like the wider cut that the reel offers (would probably opt for 25") as I have a fairly large yard (1/2 acre maybe), and it is clearly the way to go for that high profile bermuda look.

Is it foolish (or necessary) to really want both?

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