With no gas or electronic means required for operation, push mowers consist of a simple, yet efficient, mechanism. Also often called reel mowers, push mowers date back to as early as the 19th and early 20th centuries, according to the Reel Lawn Mower History and Preservation Project at North Farms, a Massachusetts farm that documents the history of and collects reel mowers. Today's push mowers have come a long way as manufacturers have improved the technology behind its simple parts.
Probably the hardest working part of a push mower, the blades slice grass cleanly and with much less friction than traditional mowers. Most models come with five or seven blades--bent grasses such as Bermuda and zoysia require more blades while upright grasses require fewer blades. Blade materials include either flame-hardened steel or tempered alloy steel. Most push mower blades, depending on your particular model, need sharpening every one to 10 years. Most push mowers come provided with a blade sharpening kit. You'll know when your blades need sharpening as the grass will not cut as easily and will have a choppier cut as opposed to a clean, sharp cut.
Most push mowers contain two rubber-tired wheels on a single axle. The wheels house the pinion gear, which when you push the mower the pinion gear rotates and spins the blade reel. Cutting heights, ranging from 5/8 inch to 3 inches, can generally be adjusted on the wheels. Wheel bearings require lubrication after each mowing to keep the mechanism operating smoothly.
The handle allows you to push the mower easily. Most push mowers come almost completely assembled, only requiring that you attach the handle with a few nuts and bolts. Manufacturers of today's push mowers have made them more ergonomic with handles that adjust for height and added padding for more comfort and control.