How to Cut Grass Without a Lawn Mower

Scythes have been used to clear land for hundreds of years.

With all the furor over environmentalism and "green" practices, the traditional lawn mower, with its gas-guzzling engine, has found itself the focus of some attention. Using a gas lawn mower for one hour and driving a car for 50 miles creates the same amount of hydrocarbon pollutants, according to an EPA study cited by the University of Illinois. If you don't like the idea of a push mower, and don't want goats or chickens grazing in your yard, you can turn to the tool that mowed lawns before lawn mowers even existed -- the scythe.

Step 1

Grasp the handles or nibs of the scythe and hold the tool directly in front of you, with the blade pointed in the direction you are facing.

Step 2

Swing the scythe in a low arc in front of you, twisting your body to the left and keeping the heel of the scythe, where the blade meets the handle, close to the ground. Stop the swinging arc before you overextend your arms or twisting body.

Step 3

Swing the scythe back to the resting position, with the handles in front of you and the blade pointed straight ahead. Take a step forward into the area of mowed grass as you swing the scythe back to the resting position.

Step 4

Sweep the scythe at a low arc again to mow the next portion of grass, then return the scythe to the resting position and step forward. Repeat this pattern and try to develop an easy rhythm to your motions. Continue until all the grass is cut.

Step 5

Swing the scythe carefully near trees, fences, or any other physical object. Measure the arc distance using a practice swing prior to swinging the scythe with full force. Alternatively, you can touch up the edges of a lawn with garden shears if desired.


Maintaining an easy rhythm, keeping the scythe heel down and not overextending your body are the keys to successful use. Scythes can mow grass very quickly in the hands of an experienced user.

Sharpen the scythe blade with a whetstone after ease use.


Keep children and pets away from a person operating a scythe.

Your body may ache the first few times you use a scythe, until the muscles become used to the motion.