DIY Lawnmower Doesn’t Cut Grass Short

[nodemcu12ecanada] is serious about saving water, which is why they built this strange lawnmower that can cut grass taller.

Short lawns are one of those clever marketing victories, like convincing people to eat a lot of sugar, that’s been doing more harm than good ever since the victory was won. Short grass is weak grass, with shallow roots, weakness to weeds, and a lot of water requirement. On top of that the grass is always in a state of panic so it grows extra fast to get to a more “natural” height. It’s great if you want to sell fertilizer, seeds, and lawnmowers. Maybe not so great for the environment.

Most lawnmowers can’t even be set high enough for healthy grass so [nodemcu12ecanada] took three electric weed whackers and bolted them to an angle iron frame. It has a lot of advantages. It’s light. You don’t need to sharpen a blade. It’s quiet. It’s electric. It’s strange appearance will scare your neighbors off from borrowing any of your tools. We love it!

67 thoughts on “DIY Lawnmower Doesn’t Cut Grass Short

  1. The problem with these string trimmers, that nobody seems to think about, is that they use plastic strings to cut grass. And the whole spool of strings quite quickly “disappear”. Except that it does not really vanish: it is disintegrated into micro particles, spreaded all other your garden. Have a look at a brand new spool, and think of the corresponding amount of plastic that will go into soil, water, animals and insects. Not so great. So please stop using plastic strings but only metal blades or chains. And spread the word!

    1. Also.. string trimmers don’t actually cut the grass. They smash/tear it with brunt force trauma.
      This would be like trying to cut your lawn with a CO2 laser. (that was actually a brief childhood brainstorm of mine… :)

      String trimmers do have their place, and that place is to trim your grass where a high mass spinning metal blade dare not go.

      In my case at least (Scotts/MTD Tecumseh FWD self propelled), you can set a new height much easier than this. Remove the central mounting bolt, rotate the offset shaft mount for setting the front/rear height, drill one hole at your new desired minimum height, and reinstall the bolt.

        1. I use a manual reel mower that cuts grass like scissors and, strange enough, I actually do my edging along my driveway with… scissors. Much better for the lawn. I want a swing blade, though!

          1. You had one, bah, we had to challenge the grim reaper to a game of skill so we could use his, and there was none of this namby pamby book stuff, all our lessons were carved on stone tablets, which we had to carry uphill, both ways, in 50 feet of snow, barefoot, after working at the mill 23 hours, on only a bowl of cold gravel…

          2. i took a standard reel tied a cord to the roller rod pulled it back as far as i could , & cinched the other end to the handle to raise cutting height as great as 7″. then i put either a cam or turnbuckle in the cord as a control so no more cinching. works great. 2x faster than a standard reel, can do large properties, can wait month between mowings-standard reel can’t. beats gas & electric flat in almost every way. go to fb enter tom d sherman then go to noise reduction.

        1. This is metal, But Im thinking horrific metalocolypse type injuries when you eventually brush your foot with it in use.

          That would create nightmare injuries too horrific to even try to fix with surgery. So no. Plus- cleaning the chain would be a nightmare too in normal use.

          Metal wire makes more sense.

          1. Euhm, no.
            Stuff like chainsaw chains and metal wires will also break eventually.
            I saw a commercial variant which did use a piece of chainsaw chain, and the secret sause is to connect both ends of the chain to the hub.

            As a result, when the chain breaks, you wil not launch a piece of metal into an undetermined direction (your ankles?) but the weed wacker will just be horribly out of balance which gives you a clear sign something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

    2. I have been mowing my lawn with a string trimmer for over five years because of obstacles that make a regular lawnmower impractical. I love this rig and may duplicate it now that someone else has gone to the trouble todemonstrate its practicality. Since switching to a Ryobi 40 volt elecric power head I have gone through very little trimmer line. Without the flywheel to yank on it the trimmer just stops instead of snapping the line when the line wraps around an obstacle.

      1. I don’t know how big your lawn is, but do you know about brush hogs (aka bush hogs)? It is essentially a conventional mower except instead of a blade it uses heavy duty cord. On mine, there are only wheels, in the rear. Instead of the front wheel is the point of rotation for the strings. The contact point in front is a dome shaped bit of metal that simply rides over whatever obstacle is in the way.

        1. My yard is small, which is why mowing it with a hand-held trimmer is practical, I have looked into the possibility of making a kind of mower trolley for my trimmer but so far it hasn’t seemed worth the effort. I am getting older though and it’s getting to wear me out a bit to do the whole lawn in one go.

          1. Every mower I’ve ever owned has been capable of mowing that high, whether it be a push mower or a lawn tractor.
            I’m not a fan of string trimmers whatsoever, and I think that trying to use a rig like this would just be an exercise in frustration for me. If it works well for the person who made it, good for them and nice job. It’s simply not for me.

        1. +1, was going to say the same. Interesting contraption, and if they had fun building it and it works well, it’s a win for them. But it does seem a standard mower would go to the same height as the pic implies, or throw some cheap larger radius wheels on one if not, for an ‘easier/safer’ win for others.

      1. just add traction spikes to bigger wheels and you aerate your lawn too whenever you mow.

        would make mowing hillsides easier, leave the lawn healthier, but don’t run over your feet- ouch!

      1. Yet it would be trivial to modify any mower to run at that height, or at least alot easier than building that thing.

        And from the appearance of that monstrosity, the creator is not very concerned with safety.

        1. Wel it’s hard to see what is unsafe about the OP’s invention, since string trimmers don’t need guards because for a reason. You would be advised to wear safety glasses while operating it of course, but that is also true of bladed mowers.

        1. But you are not in front of your mower when pushing it. It is a specific safety problem with mowers that are set high that you might accidentally kick your foot under it as you’re pushing. Starting in the 1990’s all push mowers started shipping with guards that drag behind the mower to prevent this, but those guards wouldn’t be effective if the mower is raised too high.

      1. You are right, kinda. If you scalp it, you will stunt the growth. This is pretty much where I kept my lawn for the longest time. It is less work and this will work fine as long as the grass is established and you don’t have any unforeseen environmental issues.

        The OP is also right. If you cut your grass too short, it will be in survival mode and devote most of its energy to replenishing the lost leaves instead of building a more solid long term foundation of roots and such.

        Longer grass cut regularly with a sharp blade ends up looking healthier, needs less water, and also will be more resilient.

    1. Taller grass might be okay in some areas, not so much in others, depends on where you live, and type of grass. Here in Florida, it grows kind of quick during the rainy season. There is a city ordinance , 8″ I believe, last time I got cited… I’m not big on mowing every week, like to do it as little as possible. Even cutting mine short, it only takes about 2 weeks, before I’m risking that $25/day fine. Neighborhoods with HOAs have stricter codes and fines as well. There are a lot of different types of grasses available these days. You really need to know which type you have, and what is ideal for your type. It’s really more about what you want in a lawn. I just prefer it green, and cover the dirt, preferably mostly grass. Grass will either grow tall, or dense, is simply about it producing enough green to feed the plant and roots. The blades, are simply leaves, not the plant itself. When there is sufficient leaves to produce enough ‘food’, the plant will send up seed stalks. Ideally, you don’t generally want the seed stalks, so you cut shorter, or more often, to keep the grass a little sun starved.

      String trimmers a great, for trimming, but got a hunch doing a whole lawn, least mine, would get expensive, unless you buy line in bulk, and refill the spools yourself. I bought a 1,500 foot spool, for $25, years ago, which will likely outlive my trimmer. I occasionally think about building a mechanical respooler, but don’t really need it that often. It doesn’t really take that much time or effort to wind a few spools by hand, which last the whole year. A 3-pack of replacement spools, costs around $15, with 33 feet on each. I bought the bulk, because it wasn’;t always easy to find them in stock, when needed, and a little spendy, for what it’s worth.

      1. Electric string trimmers don’t use much line. I am using the same head that I burned out four IC engines on before switching to a Ryobi 40V electric power head. With the gas heads I went through 200 feet of string in about five years, since I do use it to mow my entire small, but not trivially small, lawn. Since getting the electric head I haven’t had to change the 20 foot string charge in 2 years. Without the flywheel the string just doesn’t seem to take nearly as much damage.

  2. Ever since my single digit age (1950’s) of reading history and knowing about the Prussian military haircut in the 1860’s I couldn’t agree more. Every time I hear the word [neat] I cringe. Nature is not neat. Ps(pee)ychology a supposed science, I recently realized that no science can be done here. The science of repeatability impossible as everyone is different. Null and void. I watch my neighbors grass turn brown drought of 88′ and on and on. I know what is in store and react, no brown lawn. The mower never gets plugged in. Yeah it’s electric! Sometimes as little of 2 times a season and we get no complaints. My neighbor “mows” with an electric weed wacker. Looking good.

    1. Your expectation of experimental repeatability leaves only mathematics as a science.
      Luckily mathematics is what all other sciences use to analyse their data! Including psychologists and physiologists (who would supposedly suffer your condemnation as well).

  3. most people cut their grass too short
    – it gives a selective advantage to broadleaf weeds
    – it means the lawn dries out too quickly
    electric weed whackers are probably not the best answer, they leave plastic scraps throughout the lawn, hacking the lawnmower to have a higher height adjustment is the way to go, mine required two extra holes drilled with ease

    Next time you mow your lawn, look at the end result, is it grass, green to the eye and pleasant to walk barefoot on, or,
    is it broadleaf weeds (often with spines on their leaves) definitely not pleasant to walk on or look at
    How often do you water the lawn in summer, three centimeters of grass on my lawn and I never have to water it.

  4. Grow a moss lawn instead. I saw it in Japan at many buddhist temples when I lived there for 3 years.

    Moss is brighter green than grass, covers absolutely, blocks out weeds, and smells nice when it rains.

  5. Grass covered lawns are just daft. They require constant maintenance, and plenty of water. A better solution is to use a ground cover that does not require all of this nonsense. Search on, “ground covers” and choose something appropriate as there are plenty out there.

    1. Maybe if you’re somewhere with not enough rain for grass…. here in the UK, we have plenty of rain, and plenty of grass which almost always selectively grows itself everywhere :D

      Fields and fields and fields and fields of the stuff, mostly kept in line by sheep and cattle grazing.

      But yes, putting it in lawns, in places where the habiat doesn’t suit it, is stupid.

      1. I think urban planners in the UK would advocate for more grassy areas. Our rivers already experience a reduced lag time and higher peak inputs when rain falls in urban areas caused by the reduction of trees and plants replaced by concrete and tarmac.

  6. “On top of that the grass is always in a state of panic so it grows extra fast to get to a more “natural” height. It’s great if you want to sell fertilizer, seeds, and lawnmowers. Maybe not so great for the environment.”

    This why you should never graze animals on grass, and chase dear off of any grassy areas. Think of the damage the bison did to the Americas before they were properly controlled!

  7. I used to have a Sears string trimmer on 2 wheels. Great for it was designed for, but not so much whe you tried to use it for a lawn mower. Having a gasoline engine, no cord to drag. Wouldn’t three motors mean a least three times to cord,or batteries, if going cordless. Rattlesnakes have been known to traverse my yard, forgive my shorter lawn, such as it is, ticks take up residence as well. I have tried for thirty years to establish buffalo grass, as that was here before a plow arrived, not having much luck. Where most want to use their yard as a carpeted living space or play field,so buffalo is it isn’t the best choice, because it doesn’t stand up to regular foot traffic. Well if you think it would work for you go for it, but I’m not buying the stated benefits, they don’t hold up where I live. Where drought and shortage of water is problem.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.