Sometimes, the best lawn equipment is the simplest. You don’t need a fancy gas or electric lawn mower to keep your yard looking pristine. A reel mower is simplicity, peace, and nostalgia combined. The design and ease of use harken back to a simpler time when the basics mattered – not the bells and whistles. Why not pick a quiet, eco-friendly choice for cutting your grass?
In this article, we’re going to explore the best manual reel mowers for your yard. Each one has its pros and cons, but all are ideal choices for keeping your lawn well-manicured and your grass healthy. We’ll help you choose the best reel mower, ensuring your lawn looks sharp and green all season.
Are you in the market for an authentic reel mower for your yard? Keep reading to learn our top recommendations. For homeowners with larger yards, you may wish to look at our list of the top riding mowers.
View the Best Reel Mower, Below.
- Great States 415-16 Push Reel Lawn Mower
- Fiskars 362050-1001 Stay Sharp Max Reel Mower
- American Lawn Mower Company 1204-14 Mower
- Snow Joe MJ500M 16 Manual Reel Mower
- American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14 Reel Mower
- Fiskars 6208 Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower
- Scotts Outdoor Power Tools 2000-20S Mower
- Great States 304-14 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower
- Remington RM3100 18-Inch Reel Push Mower
- Greenworks 25072 Push Reel Lawn Mower
1. Great States 415-16 Push Reel Lawn Mower
A Traditional Reel Mower Beauty
There's nothing like a little muscle power to keep your yard looking amazing. The Great States Push Reel Lawn Mower goes right back to basics. Looking at this model, you'll believe you've been whisked back to a simpler time. It'll feel just like the 1950s when every suburban home had one of these beauties.
This manual-push reel mower features an adjustable cutting height from 0.5" to 2.5". You'll get a clean, crisp cut every time you push the mower across your emerald landscape. The cutting width is 16 inches, so you don't have to make as many passes as you do with a smaller mower. The Great States 415-16 is well known as one of the best reel mowers on the market.
What We Like About It: The Great States push reel lawn mower is easy to assemble, and you don't need an excessive amount of space to store it - the handle pushes down to conserve space. The wide width of 16 inches means you make fewer passes when mowing with this classic 5-blade lawn mower. With quiet operation, you don't have to worry about disturbing your neighbors.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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2. Fiskars 362050-1001 Stay Sharp Max Reel Mower
The Fiskars 18 inch cutting reel mower has been specifically engineered to be 60 percent easier to push - you'll swear you're operating a gas-powered self-propel mower instead of a reel mower! With the InertiaDrive reel, it boasts twice the cutting power of other rotary mowers. Its StaySharpe cutting system provides long-lasting performance. Even an innovative grass chute directs the clippings forward so they're not thrust back at your feet.
What We Like About It: We fell in love with the Fiskars StaySharp Max cutting system. It minimizes manual contact. You don't have to worry about sharpening the blades because the system ensures cutting sharpness. Imagine the money you'll save on costly blade sharpening or - if you have a push mower - blade replacement. The steel blades on this model are always sharp and ready to trim grass into a lush carpet. Never having to sharpen the blades is a great perk!Check Price on Amazon ➞
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3. American Lawn Mower Company 1204-14 Mower
Ideal Model for Mowing Taller Grass
The American Lawn Mower Company has been in business since 1895. They focus on creating lawn mowers that require very little, if any, maintenance. They're also affordable. This classic push reel mower is quiet and eco-friendly. It's also easy to maneuver with a 14" cutting width. It will effortlessly slice through grass up to 4 inches tall. From the minute you receive this classic push reel lawn machine, you can quickly assemble it - there's no waiting around! The handle features cushioning, which is comfortable to grip and hold even on a hot day when your hands start to sweat. This gas-less mower scores great mower reviews. It's a definite return-to-basics model that's sure to please anyone seeking a simple machine.
What We Like About It: You can mow your yard quickly and easily with this lightweight model. It's not difficult to maneuver and works great in small yards with tight turns and spaces. It has a scissor action cutting ability that effortlessly slices through most grass types, making mowing your lawn effortless.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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4. Snow Joe MJ500M 16 Manual Reel Mower
Features a Large Attached Grass Catcher
The Snow Joe is easy to push and maneuver, which makes it ideal for small lawns. You can pick from a four-position manual adjustment. It has a maximum cutting height of 1/81 inches and a minimum cutting height of 0.88 inches. You can even tailor the cutting height to 1/81 inches deep. The grass catcher effortlessly cradles an impressive 6.6 gallons, detaching quickly for effortless emptying. The two large 8.8-inch wheels let you zip around your yard without getting bogged down. The metal deck has even been treated for rust resistance, so the reel mower stays looking fabulous year after year.
What We Like About It: We love that this mower is maintenance-free and easy to operate. The model is lightweight at only 22 pounds. It has an acceptable 16 inch cutting width that's perfect for small to moderate-sized yards. It comes with a full two-year warranty, making it one of the best choices.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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5. American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14 Reel Mower
Best Reel Mower for Getting Close to Foundations
With a five-blade cutting power, this mower cuts a path of 14 inches wide. Its 8.5-inch polymer wheels turn easily so you can effortlessly cut around flower beds, foundations, walkways, fence lines, and driveways. Adjust the mower height from 1”- 1.75”. It can cut through four-inch-tall grass blades without difficulty. The scissor cutting action slices through a variety of grass types, like a hot knife cutting through butter. The alloy blades have undergone heat treatment, so they stay sharp for years.
What We Like About It: The heat-treated blades won't require sharpening for three to five years. This mower works great for compact yards.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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6. Fiskars 6208 Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower
Model Offers Greater Cutting Power
The Fiskars 6208's smart design is more new age instead of traditional, but we love its aerodynamic appearance. It screams modern and eco-friendly with its bright orange color. It's also 30 percent easier to push, thanks to its Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower design. It boasts a patent-pending InertiaDrive reel, giving 50 percent more cutting power. It can slice through weeds and twigs effortlessly with the Staysharp cutting system.
What We Like About It: We love the lifetime warranty. Fiskar stands behind their reel mower. The StaySharpe Max Reel Mower stays sharp and cuts with ease.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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7. Scotts Outdoor Power Tools 2000-20S Mower
Model has a Comfortable Ergonomic Handle for Pushing Comfort
This classic Scotts 20-inch rotary mower features five blades on a ball-bearing reel. It also features large, 10-inch dual tracking wheels. The 1"-3" cutting height adjustment lets you determine how tall you want your lawn to be. The blades stay sharp due to their alloy steel treatment, so you rarely have to sharpen them. The ergonomic handle has a soft cushioning, which lets you grip the mower with ease, preventing your hands from becoming tired.
When this model arrives, assembling is effortless - it requires no tools. You can quickly get to mowing your lawn. It's built to be solid, but the reel mower's design is not overly heavy (at 34 pounds), meaning you won't get tired when mowing.
What We Like About It: The 20-inch cutting width means fewer passes when you cut your lawn. The quick snap height adjusters let you easily yield the adjustable cutting height. This will ensure you get the optimum height for your grass type. Adjust it from one to three inches. You can choose from nine different height slots. The five-blade reel cuts the grass into a fine mulch, helping to promote a healthy lawn. Dual wheel tracking lets you maneuver the machine over the toughest, most uneven terrain, making this one of the top reel mowers on the market for challenging landscape. The blades neatly slice the lawn, leaving the grass looking fantastic.Check Price on Amazon ➞
8. Great States 304-14 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower
Heat Treated Alloy Steel Blades for Optimum Sharpness
The Great States manual reel mower is a classic charmer with its bright, fire engine red color. Adjust the height from 0.5" to 1.75" to create a clean and precise cut every time. The 14-inch cutting width is ideal for small yards. It has a 5 blade ball-bearing reel with 8.5-inch composite wheels. The blades are fashioned from heat-treated alloy steel, ensuring they hold their sharpness for years. Your hands will effortlessly grip the cushioned, T-style handle with its remarkable comfortable design. When this mower arrives, you don't have to worry about a complicated assembly process - it requires no tools to put it together.
What We Like About It: We love the classic look of this reel lawn mower. It has a nice t-style cushioned handle and is easy to assemble. The 14-inch cutting width makes it easy to maneuver through compact yards.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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9. Remington RM3100 18-Inch Reel Push Mower
Best Model for Height Adjustment
The Remington mower cuts an impressive 18-inch path, making it a good choice for a medium-sized yard. The 5-blade adjustable reel lets you pick your grass height. The dual-lever height adjustment is easy to use. It has a special high-quality two-in-one mulching feature so you can collect the clippings as you mow.
What We Like About It: The adjustable reel and lever let you quickly pick the grass height for the perfect shear every time. You can remove and dump the clipping bag when full, so you don't have to worry about shedding the clippings on your lawn and an unwanted buildup occurring. This mower comes with a two-year warranty.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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10. Greenworks 25072 Push Reel Lawn Mower
Model is a Mulching and Rear Bagger Model
This Greenworks reel lawn mower is one of the best reel mowers available. It boasts a 20-inch cutting path, making it ideal for a moderately sized yard. The 10-inch front wheels and six-inch rear wheels make this one of the best for maneuverability. It's also remarkably easy to push. It has nine positions for an adjustable cutting height - choose cutting heights from 1 3/4" to 2 3/4". This range makes it ideal for all types of grass.
The mower is a two-in-one because it has both mulching and rear bag capabilities. You decide if you want to bag the grass or spread it across your landscape to act as a mulch. The contact-free 5-blades are very quiet, so you never have to worry about bothering your neighbors.
What We Like About It: We love the design. The large 10-inch front wheels and the smaller six-inch rear wheels are great. You can easily push this mower over rugged or uneven terrain without getting stuck or bogged down. The helical blades cut different grass varieties well. The contact-free blades also provide peace of mind. This easy-to-use reel mower works well for a moderately sized yard with its wide 20-inch cut.Check Price on Amazon ➞
Buyer’s Guide: Best Reel Mower
Have you started researching reel mowers? Perhaps you want to get back to basics and use a simple-to-operate mower that gets the job done efficiently. Reel mowers have a lot to offer anyone, but if you’re environmentally conscious, crave something that’s easier to push than a gas model, and value quiet operation, then this might be the type for you. If you’re interested in the importance of mowing – read the study here.
What Exactly is a Reel Mower?
Reel mowers are traditional grass mowers. The reel mower was one of the first commercially available manual lawn mowers. People in the suburbs used them to keep their grass sheared in an eye-pleasing fashion. The manual mower doesn’t have a motor but instead depends on manual pushing power.
The reel mower’s reel is attached to drive shafts located on the mower’s wheels. When you push the mower, the drive shafts spin the cutting reel, which turns the reel mower blades. It does take effort to push a reel mower, but the machine cuts better due to the scissor cutting action and is healthier for your lawn. In general, you achieve a much better cut than with gas-powered or electric mowers. The reel mower cuts the grass cleanly.
You’ll find the reel mower’s blades in an overhead rotary position. There’s no suction effect as there is with a gas-powered mower. The cutting reel quickly trims the grass in its standing position. It produces an even cut that’s very clean and fresh in appearance.
Most reel mowers feature five to seven manual grass cutter blades but, occasionally, you might encounter a four-blade mower. The additional number of blades provides a much cleaner cut than a gas or electric mower. After being mowed with a reel mower, the grass takes on a very relaxed and finished appearance.
How Does a Reel Mower Work?
The best reel mowers rely on a ball-bearing system. This is attached to the cutting deck, which spins. The system features a bed knife (multiple cutting blades). When you push the mower and the wheels turn, the bed knife on the ball-bearing system starts to spin. The tapered and swirl-designed blades move the grass towards the machine’s rear when cut.
The cutting action on reel mowers is significantly different than that of a traditional engine-style mower, which creates a vortex beneath the cutting deck as the blades spin. The vortex creates suction so the manual lawn mowers’ blades can cut it in a circular motion instead of a side-to-side fashion. The cutting angle of gas and electric mowers tear the grass blades instead of shearing them.
Where the reel mower creates a nice clean cut, machine mowers make ragged cuts in the grass. With the best reel mowers, you’ll enjoy a fresh, clean-cut. But with an engine mower, the grass takes on a rougher look. The reel mower truly creates a manicured lawn, favored on estates around the world. Its bed knife leaves the grass looking soft and inviting. To quickly clean up the excess grass, you can use a powerful leaf blower, like the ones we reviewed earlier this year.
Disadvantages of a Reel Mower
The only significant drawback to reel mowers is that you have to physically push them. They’re not self-propelled, and you cannot ride on the apparatus. However, most people who find the reel mower the best choice overall have a small to modest-sized yard – you won’t be walking a great distance when using it. Remember that modern reel mowers now have gear-assisted pushing, so they’re easier to push than the classic reel mower from 50 years ago.
When using a reel mower, the optimum time to cut your lawn is in the morning. Mow before the sun gets too hot, or you’ll become uncomfortable. Many people also complain about the height of the cutting deck. If your lawn becomes too long (usually over 4 inches), the reel mower will not cut through the lawn, and you’ll need an electric or gas-powered mower to shear the grass.
When the grass is too long, even the best mower can’t cut it. Instead, it just pushes the grass downward and bends it. Make sure you mow your grass before it reaches that high of a height. Typically, the longer the grass, the greater the friction on the cutting reel, so you’ll have a hard time pushing the mower.
Is a Reel Mower the Right Lawn Mower Choice?
Is a reel mower right for you? Let’s look at these top reasons why people pick the reel mowers:
Love of History
A reel mower is undoubtedly nostalgic. Maybe it reminds you of your childhood or your grandparents.
Simplicity at its Finest
If you want a mower that screams simplicity, then you’ll fall in love with the reel mower. It doesn’t break down and is easy to maintain.
Great for Small Spaces
Do you have a small swath of grass that doesn’t require a large gas mower? The reel mower is ideal for small spaces.
Easy to Use
Reel mowers are lightweight and easy to operate. You don’t have to worry about rope pulling, push-button starts, keys, gas, oil, or harmful emissions. Most reel mowers weigh between 19 to 35 pounds. You can effortlessly push the mower and lift it when needed. Many teens, women, and the elderly favor the reel mower.
Doesn’t Break Down
Are you tired of your lawnmower always breaking down? You don’t have to worry about complicated and costly mechanical breakdowns with the reel mower.
No Extension Cords
Unlike an electric mower, the reel mower requires no extension cords. You’ll only need your push power to operate the mower. Reel mowers come complete – with electric mowers, you are constantly battling extension cords. Both offer the great grass-cutting ability, but who wants to deal with the headache of electric mowers?
Optimum Cutting Ability
The best reel mowers provide an optimum cutting ability for your grass. The rotating manual grass cutter blades don’t rip or tear your lawn but instead shear each blade of grass for a truly pristine and manicured appearance. The clean scissor cut created by reel mowers is hard to beat for appearance. In addition, the cut’s fine precision helps the grass hold in moisture and prevents disease or damaging organisms from harming the grass blades. The discarded grass forms a fine spray and does not clump – it decomposes quickly to create a natural fertilizer for the lawn.
A gas-powered mower can be dangerous, kicking up rocks that turn into deadly projectiles. But the reel manual lawn mower is noted for great safety. If you encounter a rock or debris, the blades stop instead of throwing the item.
All models of reel mowers are affordable compared to expensive gas varieties. The attractive prices mean that reel mowers fit just about any budget.
Helps Keep You Fit
Walking behind a reel lawnmower is a great back-to-basics form of cardiovascular exercise. You’re out in the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine while you walk behind your mower. It doesn’t require a great deal of arm or upper body strength, so it’s still perfect for either built individuals or the elderly. You’ll burn unwanted calories while giving your body a workout.
You don’t have to worry about maintaining an engine with the reel mower. There’s no need for gas, oil, or spark plugs. When spring arrives, your reel mower is ready to start cutting your grass. Keep the mower clean and oil the blades on occasion to ensure the reel mower remains operating nicely.
With the threat of climate change, many individuals are looking for ways to make a difference. Saying ‘no’ to dirty fossil fuels is a step towards cleaning up the environment. Reel mowers are eco-friendly.
If you live in a suburban area, then you’re probably familiar with the roar of a gas-powered mechanical lawn mower in the early morning hours of Saturday and Sunday. Many people find the engine noise annoying and disturbing. Luckily, the reel mower provides a silent operation. You don’t have to worry about disturbing your neighbors. It’s one of the best choices for suburban neighborhoods.
Perfect for Small Yards
The manual reel mower is one of the best choices for small yards. It’s maneuverable in tight spaces. It also works well on medium-sized lots. You’ll need only your reel mower each season for optimum grass.
Design Features of the Reel Mower
The best reel mowers are throwbacks to the first reel mower design, originally invented by Edwin Beard Budding of Gloucestershire, England. He was issued the first reel mower patent in 1830. Almost 200 years later, the design and appearance of reel mowers have not changed much.
Innovations in material and engineering make the push mowers lightweight and more efficient. Nowadays, the best models do not require as much pushing effort as the original reel mowers.
Features of Reel Mowers
As with any mower, you’ll want the best features that meet your particular needs. Each reel mower has its own style, but they all share similar characteristics.
Blade Cutting Deck and Height
One of the first things to look at when checking out reel mowers is the cutting deck width and height. The term ‘cutting deck’ refers to the area that contains the blade reel. The length of the blades is how you measure the cutting deck width. Reel mowers are available in numerous widths. You’ll find small ones that are only 8 inches wide and large ones that span as much as 24 inches.
The wider the deck, the harder the mower is to push and maneuver. However, some push mowers feature a Staysharp max reel mower design that makes pushing a little easier for big models. Fiskars Staysharp max is an example of this. With the Fiskars Staysharp max reel, the models are 30 to 60 percent easier to push, even when large.
Individuals who are mowing long or wet grass find the large cutting deck beneficial, But for small yards, a compact cutting deck is ideal. Most homeowners are happy with a 16 to 22-inch cutting deck.
Depending on the model, it should also have an adjustable cutting height. You can make the decision between three to nine cutting heights with an adjustable cutting height reel mower model.
Reel mowers have two rollers on the rear of the machine that holds the cutting deck level. The rollers are always in operation and help cut grass to the required height.
Number of Cutting Blades
Reel mowers have a variety of designs, but all have a cutting deck with a blade reel. The blades are often fashioned from coated carbon steel or alloy steel for strength. The coating prevents the reel mower blades from rusting. With the adjustable cutting height, you determine how close to the grass the blades get.
Typically, most reel lawn mowers have five to seven blades. They’re easy to push and maneuver to get the job done. Models with a higher number of blades have an even finer mowing action. According to most mower reviews, even if you buy a reel lawn mower with seven blades, it’s still easy to handle. The easy-cutting action guarantees grass-cutting success. All you’ll need is a bit of muscle.
Most homeowners are happy with a 5 blade function. This will make a cutting path through any type of grass. With five high-quality blades, operation is easy – all you have to do is pick the cutting heights. Most of the best reel lawn machines have 5 blades.
You might think you’re getting the best reel lawn mower based on the high number of blades. But if the blades move slowly, then your lawn won’t look as good compared to how it would look if the blades revolved quicker. You’ll want to factor in the quality of the cutting reel before picking a model.
The durability of the cutting reel is an important factor. If the blades become dull or end up coated in rust, they won’t shear the grass blades as well. This will leave the lawn looking jagged and ragged. Ideally, you should buy a reel lawn mower with coated carbon steel or stainless steel blades.
Wheels and Handles
The reel lawn mower’s wheels impact how the machine handles rough terrain. If the mower has large wheels, it’ll be easier to maneuver on a small lawn or larger landscape. Larger wheels reduce friction.
Whether you’re mowing a small lawn or an extra-large manicured yard, you’ll want a comfortable handle with cushioned grips. This way, you can control the reel lawn mower without making your hands sore or tired. Try to look for adjustable or collapsable handles.
Adjustable handles let you tailor the machine’s build to any body type. A collapsable handle lets you store the reel lawn mower when not in use. It’s usually easy to collapse the handle. The best reel lawn mowers store in a compact fashion.
Collection of the Grass
The best reel mowers will have grass collection bins attached to the mower. This accessory is a superb feature if you don’t want to rake your grass. However, it’s not always a necessity. With reel mowers, you’ll have to mow your yard frequently. You won’t want your grass to get too long, or you’ll have a hard time cutting it – this means grass clippings are not always a problem.
If you have a small lawn, then you might not need to collect the grass. However, for many people, a grass collection bin is a must-have item. Just remember, leaving the trimmings on the lawn is okay too. It actually helps mulch the grass for a healthier landscape.
Related; Lawn Mower Review.
Weight and Size of the Reel Mower
Reel mowers should be light. Whether you’re purchasing an American Lawn Mower Company mower, the Staysharp cutting system, or some other brand, always look at the mower’s weight. A heavy model is going to be harder to push and will wear you out sooner during operation.
A good reel mower is an asset for anyone who has a small to modestly-sized yard. It’s an eco-friendly choice that reduces your carbon footprint significantly. You never have to worry about wasting money on costly fuel and oil or the machine breaking down.
The reel mower lets you quietly mow your grass whenever you want. If you would like to learn more, check out our related posts. For a supposedly easier option, you can opt for a string trimmer. Or view the top gas string trimmer tools.