This is our review of the best reel mower in 2021
When you think of mowing the lawn, you probably think of gas or electric powered mower. But these mowers aren't the only option. There are also old-fashioned push reel mowers that use a blade that rotates on a reel to chop up grass.
The classic types of lawn mowers have been around for ages. It's also one of the most popular types of lawn mowers available today.
In this post, we have researched the seven best reel mowers and provided you with an overview of each's pros and cons so you can find the best for your needs.
We have also included the buyer's guide later in the article to tell you everything you need to know about the reel mowers and things to consider before buying one.
If you're in a rush, you can pick it from our top 3 below.
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It's a high-performance reel mower designed to use on all grass and weed types. The unique design of the mower delivers twice the cutting power of a comparable mower.
It's a great mechanical mower to cut grass up to 4 inches tall. It's easy to assemble and easy to use. You can adjust the blade to help you cut the grass at desired height.
This mower comes with a 16-inch wide, 5 blade ball bearing reel. The T-style handle with cushioned grip makes it comfortable for a long mowing session.
Best Reel Mower in the Market
- 0.88"- 1.84" height adjustment
- 6.6 gallon grass catcher
- 16 inch cutting width
- Adjustable grass chute
- One-touch height adjustment
- 18 inch cutting width
- Mulching and rear bag capability
- 4 position height adjustment
- 16 inch cutting width
- 5 Blade ball bearing reel
- 0.5"- 2.5" height adjustment
- 16 inch cutting width
- 5 Blade ball bearing reel
- 1" - 3" height adjustment
- 20 inch cutting width
- 4 Blade push reel mower
- 0.5" - 1.75" height adjustment
- 14 inch cutting width
- 5 blade ball bearing reel
- 0.5" - 1.75" height adjustment
- 14 inch cutting width
Our Top Pick
The American Lawn Mower company reel mower is the best choice for you if you want an eco-friendly alternative to a gas-powered lawn Mower. This low maintenance manual lawn mower is lightweight and easy to use. It's capable of cutting grass up to 4 inches tall.
The reel mower's blade height can be adjusted between 0.5 and 1.75 inches for a good cut. The mower also features heat-treated alloy steel blades that stay sharp for years.
What You'll Learn
Reel Mower Buyer Guide
Why are reel mowers better?
Reel mowers are time-tested old-fashioned lawn mowers passed down in garden sheds in favor of power mowers.
But are they better? Well, the answer might surprise you. Reel mower has several benefits compared to a power mower. This makes them the better lawn mowing option for most gardeners.
They're quieter than electric or gas lawn mowers and give you far cleaner grass cut than powered lawn mowers. Most powered lawn mowers work by lifting and tearing the grass. This makes the grassroots weak or prone to diseases.
A reel mower has scissor-like cutting action that gives a cleaner cut without tearing up the grass blade. This helps the grass to retain moisture and roots remain intact to the ground for further growth. Above all, reel mowers are quieter and safer than electric or gas lawn mowers.
They're safer as there are no moving parts that can get tangled in your feet. Also, you don't need to worry about tripping over an extension cord.
The reel mower's simple design makes them easy to maintain and won't need any gas or electricity to operate. This means there is no emission and no extra cost for gas or electricity.
Reel mowers are lightweight and easy to store, easy to move, and easy to use. If you don't want accidental gasoline leaking in your garden, which is an occurrence with gas power, the reel mower is the best option.
The Best Reel Mower Review
#1. Snow Joe Manual Reel Mower w/Grass Catcher
Reel Mower with Grass Catcher
For mowing small lawns, the Snow Joe reel mower is a great choice. It's easy to use, lightweight and has a grass catcher for collecting clippings. The mower is made of high-carbon steel blades that deliver a powerful, efficient cut, right down to the last blade of grass.
It gives you a 16-inch-wide cutting width with 5 extra-sharp blades that are designed to cut through tough, rough grass and weeds—even those growing right up against concrete. The 6.6-gallon grass clipper capacity is easy to detach for convenient grass clipping disposal.
The build quality of the mower is very sturdy. You can manually choose 4 different height adjustment positions to let you get desired grass trimming height. The compact design reel mower allows you to tailor cut height up to 1.81 inches.
It weighs only 22 lbs, which makes it lightweight, maneuverable, and easy to use. You have to assemble it when you buy it, but it comes with a detailed easy to follow instruction. It needs some hard push at the start, but once blades start moving, it moves smoothly without much effort.
It's easy to move back and forth for a greater degree of precision when cutting grass. The mower struggles a bit on an uneven surface and wet grass. The wheel doesn't catch very well to the ground, and three passes cutting will be the best way to mow your lawn.
Overall, this is a great lightweight reel mower with a comfortable foam grip handle that is easy to handle and maneuver. It's great for a small yard and gives you a good exercise.
See More Information about: Snow Joe Manual Reel Mower w/Grass Catcher
#2. Fiskars Stay Sharp Max Reel Mower
Reel Mower for Rough Surface
The Fiskars Stay Sharp Max reel mower has an innovative StaySharp cutting system that keeps blades sharp even after cutting thick and rough grass. This gives you a nice and clean grass cut on your yard all season.
The mower has an advanced reel design that allows for an ultra-smooth cut every time on yard grass and weeds. It has spring-loaded reel tension that lets you easily set 1 - 4 inch mowing height. The hardened-steel blade stays sharp longer.
The Inertiadrive reel gives twice the cutting power of a regular push mower. That makes it easy to maintain your lawn without getting tired. The mower has 18-inch cutting width. The two front insert wheels make it easy to push around any surface type.
It has a soft-grip handle and an adjustable locking reel handle that helps make mowing more comfortable.
It's 60% easier to push than other reel mowers. It also features a micro-serrated edge that grabs the grass for a clean-cut. The ergonomic design is suitable for easy one-handed operation.
You can position the reversible grass chute in any desired direction, such as away from your feet, backward and downward. The insert wheels extend across the full width, preventing any uncut edges while allowing you to move it anywhere quickly you need to go.
This reel mower is suited to cut all grass types, including more rigid varieties such as St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda, and Bahia. It comes with a limited 3-year warranty.
See More Information about: Fiskars Stay Sharp Max Reel Mower
#3. Greenworks Reel Lawn Mower with Grass Catcher
Budget Friendly Reel Mower
Greenworks 16-inch lawn mower handles small yard maintenance and does an incredible job of mulching grass clippings and weeds. It quickly breaks down grass clippings to the desired length and enriches the soil.
It features a 16-inch cutting path. The mower can tackle a typical lawn in a single pass. It offers a generous size grass catcher for reducing the need to make multiple passes and pick clippings.
The compact and straightforward mower design makes it great to maneuver along raised grass beds and narrow garden space.
This zero-emission mower is easy to use and has 4 position height adjustment. You can quickly push it on a smooth surface but will struggle a bit on uneven ground. There is no issue with using it on slopes or angled ground surfaces.
It has 5 steel-made helical blades that stay sharp even after cutting tough grass. The sturdy frame construction ensures years of reliable mowing.
The mower has sturdy 10-inch front wheels and 2-inch rear rollers that make it easy to operate. The push reel mower comes with a cushioned handle for comfort, and a four-year limited warranty backs it.
See More Information about: Greenworks Reel Lawn Mower with Grass Catcher
#4. Great States 16-Inch 415 Push Reel
Simple Low Maintenance Reel Mower
The Great States Push reel lawn mower features five blades that cut grass more efficiently and effectively than a traditional reel mower. The durable steel blades and rust-resistant construction are designed to stand up to several years of use.
This hand push reel lawn mower is the perfect option for people who want a clean and even grass cut every time. The high quality, heat-treated alloy steel blades stay sharp longer than other comparable models.
And because it has no gas or oil requirements, this is an ideal option for people to have an eco-friendly way to maintain their lawn.
The mower features a quick, adjustable cutting height of 0.5 inches to 2.5 inches. The 16-inch cutting width, 5-blade ball bearing reel, and 10-inch composite wheels make this manual hand push reel lawn mower easy to use.
The mower's T-style handle has cushioned grip that makes it easy to hold and push without slipping. The lightweight design makes it comfortable and easy to move around narrow areas of the yard.
This forward motion only reel mower works equally well on flatter and mild bumpy spots. The sharp blades can handle most grass types, but they may struggle to cut sturdier weeds.
Keep the pushing angle low to make a smooth cut at the uneven surfaces. Ensure that the driving wheels make proper contact with the ground. Overall, this manual hand push garden reel mower is extremely quiet, clean, and easy to assemble.
See More Information about: Great States 16-Inch 415 Push Reel
#5. Scotts Classic Push Reel Mower
Scotts Scissor Lawn Mower
Mowing the lawn could never be more comfortable than with the Scotts Reel Mower. The 20-inch cutting width and 5 blade ball bearing reel make this mower perfect for personal and commercial use.
It's suitable for thick and taller grass types, and it features 10-inch dual tracking wheels that make it easy to maneuver. The high quality, heat-treated alloy steel blades remain sharp even after multiple uses.
This mower features a quick snap 1 - 3 inches cutting height adjustment that provides a clean, even cut. This manual reel lawn mower runs of your physical power, and the sturdier construction means its built to last.
This engine-free, no-motor, classic manual reel hand push lawn mower requires no gas or oil to operate. It has an ergonomic handle and cushioned grip that you'll find comfortable to use.
A minor assembly is required when you first receive it. But it comes with an easy to follow detailed instruction manual.
Pushing this mower is a breeze. It has two 10-inch composite wheels mounted on a sturdy, steel frame and you can quickly push this mower over bumpy terrain.
It weighs 34 lbs, which isn't very heavy and maintains good contact of the mower wheel to the ground. This comes with a two-year warranty so that you can purchase it with confidence.
See More Information about: Scotts Classic Push Reel Mower
#6. American Lawn Mower Company Reel Mower
Best For Residential and Professional Use
The American Lawn Mower company reel mower is the best choice for you if you want an eco-friendly alternative to a gas mower. The manual push mower's blades are made of heat-treated alloy steel, which won't dull for 3 - 5 years.
This 4-blade reel mower features a cutting width of 14 inches and has a pair of durable 8.5-inch polymer wheels for maximum movability. This sturdier constructed lawn mower is pollution and noise-free and requires little maintenance, and is lightweight.
It can cut grass up to 4 inches tall, and depending on the terrain, can provide you a far cleaner and healthy grass cut than a conventional lawn mower. The reel mower's blade height can be adjusted between 1 - 1.75 inches by adjusting the adjustable lever for a good cut.
It has easy to maneuver compact polymer wheels that can be used on any terrain, even around tight corners.
The heat-treated alloy steel blades stay sharp for years to come. The T-shape handle provides a good grip and won't bend even at a hard push. The mower is easy to move around trees, shrubs, and other obstacles.
Overall, this is a great reel mower for personal and professional use. It comes with a detailed instruction manual that makes it easy to assemble. This is a bit lighter than other reel mowers, but the wheels make good contact with the ground to give you an even cut.
See More Information about: American Lawn Mower Company Reel Mower
#7. Great States 301 Push Reel Lawn Mower
Best Reel Mower for Tall Grass
For a quick, clean lawn grass cut that stays sharp, this Great States reel lawn mower is the way to go. It features an adjustable cutting height of 0.5 - 1.75 inches and a 14-inch cutting width so that you can choose the perfect mowing setting for your lawn.
It also has a 5-blade ball bearing reel made of sturdier steel alloy, so it doesn't wear out quickly, and you'll get a clean, even cut every time. The medium size cutting width and reliable 8.5-inch wheel make it quick and easy to maneuver.
The lightweight T-style handle provides comfort for those with back or shoulder problems. The heat-treated alloy steel blade can cut down tough grass and weeds with minimal effort.
The cushioned handle provides you a good grip without getting tired, so you can be comfortable for hours of cutting.
You can use this reel mower to get clean, precise cuts without ripping or tearing the grass blades that protect it from disease and insect attacks. You can adjust the handle height to make it comfortable for you to push.
The easy-roll wheels and 5 sharp blades make it ideal to use on thicker, fuller lawn, and it can cut all types of grass and weed with ease. This model doesn't come with a grass catcher, but you can buy it separately attach it to the mower.
See More Information about: Great States 301 Push Reel Lawn Mower
What is the difference between a reel mower and a rotary mower?
A reel mower and a rotary lawn mower might look similar to the untrained eye, but there are some critical differences between the two. You can find both types of mowers at a wide range of prices, so it's essential to know how they work before you buy.
The main difference between a reel mower and a rotary mower comes from the way they cut tall grass. A reel mower has a long handle and rectangular twisted cutting blade attached to a reel.
When you push the mower, it makes the axle to spin the blade which is mounted inside the cutting deck. The blade automatically lifts grass and makes the clean cut.
A rotary mower is usually a powered mower that runs on a lawn mower engine. They're typically single-blade mowers, but some models also contain dual blades. The blades are housed in a circular housing that rotates back and forth.
The manual and power reel mower uses a horizontal cutting reel to trim the grass. In contrast, the rotary mower uses a flat blade that moves in a circular motion and does the high impact cutting.
The reel mower's scissor motion cutting action gives a far cleaner cut than brute force cutting of rotary mower.
Things to consider when buying a reel mower?
When you're looking to make a major purchase like a lawn mower, it can be hard to know whether you're making the right choice. That's especially true with reel mowers, as there's a lot more to consider than with a gas-powered mower.
Luckily, you can do plenty of things to make sure you find the right manual mower for you. Here we have covered a few important considerations you should have before buying a reel mower.
Types of grass it can cut
Most reel mowers are manually pushed, which means they have simple design requiring no external power. They typically have wheels that each have a blade on one side, with a simple handle on the other.
If you have thick and overgrown grass to cut, know that using a reel mower will be physically exhausting. Some thick grass types, such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, and Zoysia, have thick, sturdy foliage that makes it hard to cut them.
If you have thick and sturdier grass in a large-sized lawn, you would be better off considering a powered mower.
If you have easy-to-cut grass varieties such as Kentucky, bluegrass, perennial rye, and fescue, a lightweight and sturdier reel mower is the best option.
The maximum height of grass it can cut
Reel mowers have an adjustable cutting height that allows you to set the lawn grass height. Most reel mowers allow you to adjust the height from 1 to 3 inches for the garden's nice and trimmed appearance.
A reel mower with a more considerable height adjustment ability allows you to choose your desired grass height.
You must choose the right trimming height to maintain a healthy and vigorous yard. The reel mower can easily cut grass up to 4–5 inches in height, and anything above that makes it hard to mow.
How it handles grass clippings
You have the option to buy a reel mower that bags the grass clippings to make it easy to dispose of. But we recommend that you choose a non-bagging grass clip mower. There is a common consensus that grass clippings are good for the yard.
When you leave the grass clippings in the yard, they gradually decompose in the soil and provide nutrients. It lowers the dependence of gardens on chemical lawn fertilizers, thus improving the soil while saving you money.
The grass clippings are rich in nitrogen that helps with the more robust foliage of grass in the lawn.
How easy is it to maintain
Reel mowers are a very simplistic design that makes them hassle-free and easy to maintain. If you're looking for a high-end mower, most come with several instructions on using it properly. The reel mower doesn't need any fuel or other accessories and can last longer.
Most often, you have to sharpen the blade and keep it from dirt and debris sticking to the wheel.
Look out for a contactless design between the cutting bar and the cylinder to reduce the wear and tear on the mower. This also makes it easy to push around and won't make you get tired quickly.
How often you need to sharpen blades
Resharpening your lawn mower's blade is vital because sharp blades cut grass cleanly. Most mowers have multiple blades at different revolutions.
A considerable rotation speed gives you a far cleaner and well-trimmed yard than a reel mower with more blades but less blade revolution.
But on the downside, high revolution blades need frequent blade sharpening due to their aggressive cut. The frequency with which you need to sharpen your mower blade will depend on how often you mow and how long your mowing season is.
If you have a small lawn and frequently mow throughout the year, you'll probably have to sharpen your blades more often than someone who has a large lawn that is mowed once a year. Typically, you want to sharpen it once at the start of the mowing season.
Can it cut through a rough surface
You must consider the surface of your yard before buying a mower. Using a reel mower on rough terrain is a little complicated than using it on a flat and levelled lawn. Reel mowers are best suited for flat, smooth lawn, and rough terrain can be challenging on a reel mower.
You should choose a reel mower that is adjustable to cut across at different angles for a slightly sloped or rough terrain. This will save you time and effort to mow multiple times at the same patch of grass.
Know the swath width of the mower
The swath width of the mower determines how wide you can mow in every single pass. The width of reeled mower's swath is directly related to the number of blades it has.
For example, the standard swath width of the reel mower can cover 16–20 inches wide. Four-blade mowers cut a swatch 16 inches wide, while five-blade models do 15 to 20 inches.
You have to balance the number of blades and the swath's width depending on your yard size and the terrain.
Are wheels easy to move
Mower wheels are a large part of the life of the mower and are made of several materials. These days mower wheels are made of polystyrene, hard rubber, and metal.
You must choose the right wheel as it makes it easy to use the mower on hard grass and improves the mower's life.
Consider the weight of the reel mower
If you're considering a push reel mower, choose a reel mower that is lightweight and easy to push. The heavier weight machine can become tiring after a while, and you won't be able to finish your lawn maintenance job in a single setting.
However, don't choose too lightweight mowers either as they're easier to push, but they don't make good contact with the ground that may cause you to get some uneven cuts. Try to keep a balance and know what the maximum weight you're comfortable pushing.
Does it have an ergonomic handle?
You should choose a reel mower that comes with an ergonomic handle. It makes it easier on your hand to form a grip and gently push the mower. Handle with the plastic covering at the end makes it easier to grip and push the mower.
If you have limited storage space, you may want to consider a reel mower with a foldable handle that makes it easy to store in a confined space.
What is the tallest height of grass can a reel mower cut?
Most reel mowers are designed to cut grass between 3 and 5 inches high. In North American homes, the average size of a yard is 1/4 acre, which means that most reel mowers can handle a yard that size. Mowing grass between 3 and 5 inches in height is ideal.
Grass mowed too short won't grow properly and can become more susceptible to diseases and pests. If cutting high grass is unavoidable, use a mulching mower or zero-turn mower.
How often should you mow with a reel mower?
Several factors affect how often you need to mow your lawn. The answer depends on your lawn's size, the types of grass, and how much time you have to mow it.
As with most things in life, there is no single "right" answer. The best approach is to consider all the factors and decide what works best for your situation. Usually, most yards need to be mowed once a week during spring and summer when the grass growth rate peaks.
If you have slow-growing grass or you're caring for your lawn in the fall, you may need to only mow with a reel mower once every two weeks. It's crucial that you consider the grass length and don't mow it more than one-third of the grass blade length.
What is back lapping a reel mower?
If you have a reel mower, you know how vital it is to keep the blade sharp. It's essential to have a sharp blade for a clean-cut and keeping your lawn looking great.
But sharpening reel mower blades is a chore. You have to remove the blades, sharpen them and then put them back on. It takes time, and it's not easy to do if you're unsure what you're doing.
Depending on the type of reel mower, it can have a different mechanism that allows the user to control how the blades move. The blades can move in two ways, up and down or back and forth.
Backlapping a reel mower is the easiest way to sharpen the reel blades with minimal risk of damage to them. Backlapping improves the blade's cutting action by removing nick and high spots to give you a clean slice off the grass.
You have the option to grind the blades to sharpen them. But it's often time-consuming and challenging to do on twisted blades of the reel mowers.
Back lapping uses a premixed reel sharpening compound (looks like liquid sandpaper) that gives a consistent and smooth sharpening of the blade. There are various grades of back lapping compound that you can buy from 50 grits to 220 grits.
The lower number grit's used for heavy-duty lapping, while the higher number grit gives you superfine sharpening.
Here is how to back lap a reel mower:
Step 1: If you're using a powered electric mower, make sure you have turned off the engine and clear any grass clipping and dirt from the blades. You can also use a metal brush to remove any sticking or stuck mud from the mower blade.
Step 2: Set the reel blades to turn backward, turn the engine for a powered reel mower, or use a hand rotation mechanism (such as a drill) for the push reel mower.
For a powered reel mower, set it to rotate at a slow speed of 100 to 150 rounds per minute (RPM), so it doesn't throw off the compound.
Step 3: Use a paintbrush, take a small amount of compound and place it on top of the blade while the blades are moving. Move the brush left to right along the reel to uniformly spread the sharpening compound all over the blade.
Step 4: After you have finished applying the compound, you can wash it off with a water hose. Most back lapping compounds are eco-friendly and don't harm the environment.
Step 5: Turn the engine off, if needed, and spin slowly reel backward to check if the bed knife from both sides makes even contact with reel blades. You can fine-tune it further to check if you're getting even cut.
Step 6: You can test the blade sharpness with a piece of paper and make any needed uniform cutting adjustments. Be careful not to touch the blade with fingers to prevent injury.
So, when should you sharpen reel mower blades?
We recommend that you sharpen blades at the beginning and end of the season. If you're sharpening it with a grinding machine, backlap the blades after each grinding to refine the sharpening.
How long does the sharpening of the reel mower blade last?
You may have heard that you should sharpen your lawn mower blade every time you mow. While it's true that a dull blade can cause uneven cutting and leave your lawn looking patchy, it's not always necessary to sharpen it every time you mow.
The average length of time a reel mower sharpness lasts is about a year with regular maintenance. This is only an estimate because every mower and blade is different.
The factors that may change the blade sharpness include mowing frequency, yard size, grass types, and rocks and debris in the yard.
So how can you tell if your reel mower blades need to be sharpened? The best way to tell is to keep a close eye on the ground as you mow.
If you notice that you're not cutting the grass evenly on the ground or notice that your mower isn't cutting the grass as close as it once did, it's time to sharpen the blades.
Is it hard to push a reel mower?
A reel mower can be hard to push if you don't have the right conditions or technique to push it correctly. But once you know the tricks for using one, it can be just as easy as using any other kind of lawn mower.
Most of us have had the experience of pushing a reel mower with a cinder block in the front of it.
If you're just starting to push a reel mower for the first time, you might be surprised to learn that it's tough to push. The most common reason is that you're probably doing a lot of things wrong or inefficient.
First, you should mow the grass when it's dry as it makes it cut more comfortable to cut, and the grass won't be clumping to the reel blades. Hold the handle close to your navel and use both hands to make a firm grip.
You can use your body weight to push a reel mower, and don't stop once you have gained some momentum. You may have to make a couple of rounds to get the perfect cuts.
If you have long grass, the first round may be a bit hard. Adjust the blade height bit higher and gradually start decreasing it when making a second or third pass.
To make pushing the job easier, if you see grass clippings starting to pile up, you should lift it and spread it in the yard to naturally decompose.
Some experts recommend mowing by overlapping. You can do this by mowing one row and returning it to the same path with a different cutting height.
The other popular method of mowing with a reel mower is a checkerboard pattern or three passes cutting.
In a checkerboard pattern, you mow back and forth in the opposite direction. The three passes use mowing at a different angle, so there are no high and thick grass turfs remaining.
How to maintain a push reel lawn mower?
A well-maintained push reel lawn mower will last for years. If you have a push reel mower and want to keep it in pristine condition, follow these tips.
Over to you
The above list is the best reel mower that one can find on the market today.
I personally liked the performance of the American Lawn Mower company reel mower. It has an excellent cleaner cutting performance and easy to assemble and use. The blade remains sharp even after multiple uses on tougher and thicker lawn grass and weeds.
This low maintenance and lightweight mower is an excellent choice for both personal and professional. If you want to find out about a powered zero turn mower, check out our review and buyers guide here.
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