Before the advent of reel type lawn mowers in the 19th century, grass and lawns had to be cut using hand tools. Although power mowers are the most common way to care for large tracts of lawn, classic, "old-style" hand tools can be very effective for caring for smaller areas or areas not conducive to power mowing.
Lawn clippers can range from simple, scissor-like shears that are similar to pruning shears, to spring return clipping shears with multiple blades. Larger versions of these multi-blade clippers were commonly used in the years before the development of the reel mower. Clippers of that size, however, are no longer made. Hand clippers are good for trimming grass near trees and buildings or along driveways or walkways. In some cases, you may be able to find an antique pair of edging clippers that are made with long handles to allow you to clip and edge your lawn while standing.
Scythes are long, curved blades on long handles. You cut grass by holding the scythe against your body and swinging your body back and forth while walking. Scythes are very good for cutting grass that is much too tall for reel or powered mowers. Many people who are converting a field to lawn initially cut the tall grasses with a scythe before mowing the lawn with a more modern mower. Scythes are in common use for very tall grasses and are often used in agriculture, especially on smaller farms where field sizes may not be conducive to mechanized harvesting and agriculture.
Rakes are another hand tool useful in lawn mowing. Simple lawn rakes can gather up grass clippings into piles, making them easier to collect for composting or disposal. Common lawn rakes range in size from less than a foot wide to 3 or 4 feet wide. The proper size will depend on the area you are raking. Narrow rakes are best for getting between plants, buildings and trees.
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