So the expensive Toro mower I bought a year ago decided to go on strike. Unfortunately, Toro’s "Guarantee to Start" is only as good as the place that looks at it.

In my case, the authorized service center charges a $62 bench fee, did its best to convince me the problem isn’t covered under warranty (they can’t nail Toro for a $62 bench fee, of course), AND they won’t look at it for 3 1/2 weeks.

So what do I do when I have a jungle growing in the front yard and the neighbors are getting irritated?

Say hello to Mr. Reel Mower.I called around a lot, but the local hardware stores either didn’t know what I was talking about, or they laughed. But on This Old House, Roger Cook said the new reel mowers aren’t bad at all. I hit the web, and saw that Home Depot carries a 16-inch mower in the store, and Lowes carries a 16- and a 20. I went to Lowes (I’d rather support local business, but I needed a mower NOW) so I went, plunked down $150, and brought home a 20-inch reel (manual, human powered) mower.

It’s not so adept at hacking through jungle. I found the best thing to do with tall blades was to make multiple passes from different directions and angles. By the time I did my front yard, my 33-year old arms and legs were tired.

With reasonable grass, it’s easy. It takes a little longer than a gas powered mower because it isn’t as wide as a gas powered mower’s cutting deck, but makes no more noise than my electric razor, doesn’t die on big clumps of grass or uneven ground, and it doesn’t cost anything to run.

Eventually I’ll get the Toro fixed one way or another, but the reel mower will take care of me in the meantime. I may not like it in August, but in cooler weather, it’ll cut the lawn without chewing through $4 worth of consumables every time.