Whether you have a large or small yard, keeping it tidy can be a daunting task. Mowing the lawn is one of the most time-consuming chores, and lawn mowers are often an expensive investment.
If you’re looking for a low-cost and simple option for mowing your lawn, especially if you have a small to medium sized yard, then why not try a reel lawn mower. These mowers are easy to operate and don’t require any gasoline or electricity–making them eco-friendly and budget-friendly.
Lawn mowers come in all shapes and sizes, but if you’re looking for the best reel lawn mower in 2022, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll take a look at six of the best reel lawn mowers currently on the market. We’ll also provide a buying guide to help you choose the right one for your needs. So without further ado, let’s get started!
What is a Reel Lawn Mower?
A reel lawn mower, which is also called a cylindrical lawn mower because the main blades are housed in a rotating cylinder, is the oldest type of lawn mower in the world. First invented in 1830, the reel lawn mower was the first time someone could cut their grass without using a scythe or animals.
The reel is attached to the driveshafts of the wheels on the mower. The cutting reel is turned by the driveshafts as you push the mower forward. As a result, a reel mower is more difficult to push than an engine or battery-powered model, because it relies solely on your manual effort to spin the blades and cut the grass.
Compared to older models of reel lawn mowers, contemporary reel mowers are very easy to use and are often the least expensive models you can find at a home and garden store.
How Do Reel Mowers Work?
A cylinder mower or reel mower has a fixed, horizontal cutting blade at the designated height of cut. The grass is then forced past the cutting bar by a fast-spinning reel of blades that are positioned above it. Each blade in the blade cylinder works as a helix around the reel axis.
Reel mowers have a ball-bearing mechanism within this cylinder that is connected to a spinning cutting deck with many cutting blades. The grass is removed from the blades by curving and swirling them, making them easy to remove towards the rear of the machine.
The cutting action of a reel mower differs from that of a regular electric or gas-powered one. The standard engine-style mower creates a vortex beneath the cutting deck as it spins. As the suction lifts the grass, the blades cut it in a circular motion from the side, which tears each blade of grass rather than severing it.
A reel lawn mower, on the other hand, cuts the grass wherever it is, without suctioning it up. This is a healthier cutting option for your grass. The cutting reel has three to seven blades, as well as a bed knife. The blades begin to spin vertically when the mower is pushed forward. The action raises the grass between the mower’s blades and the bed knife, smoothly snipping off each blade of grass.
Why Use a Reel Lawn Mower
Of all the different types of mowers, a reel mower that is properly adjusted produces the cleanest cut of grass, allowing the grass to recover more quickly. The cut of a well-aligned cylinder mower is precise and clear, as if made with a pair of scissors.
A clean cut from a reel mower helps your grass to be healthier, thicker, and more resilient to disease, weeds, and pests. Cutting your grass with a cylinder mower is also less likely to cause yellow, white, or brown discoloration in the lawn as a result of the grass blades retaining more of their original moisture.
Reel mowers are completely silent and simple to use, with the added benefit of being environmentally friendly. All they take is a push to begin cutting on the lawn. They’re also cheap to operate, easy to assemble, lightweight, and require little upkeep. They don’t even need any gasoline or oil for power, so you won’t have to spend money on fuel.
However, because they have a smaller cutting area and only two wheels reel mowers also have more trouble mowing over hilly ground.
Types of Reel Lawn Mowers
There are different types of reel lawn mowers available on the market, each with their own advantages. The two main types are manual powered reel lawn mowers, and gas or electric powered mowers. Unlike rotary lawn mowers or riding lawn mowers, reel mowers are the majority manual, but there are some quality gas or electric power models you might want to try out.
Powered Reel Mower
A reel lawn mower can be equipped with a gasoline engine or an electric motor to power the cylinder, wheels, roller, or any combination of the three. Electric-powered lawn equipment for residential use typically includes a motor that drives the rotation of the cylinder while the mower only moves forward due to the user pushing it.
Electric reel mowers run on either batteries or electricity. On petrol mowers, the engine drives both the cylinder and the rear roller. Some models feature only three blades in a reel that spins at breakneck speed, and they can cut grass that has grown too long for conventional push mowers.
Manual Reel Mower
A manual reel mower is a type of lawn mower that is pushed by the user, rather than powered by an engine. The blades on a manual reel mower are turned by a series of gears, which are connected to the handlebars. As the user pushes the mower, the blades rotate, cutting the grass.
Manual reel mowers are typically much quieter than their gas-powered counterparts, and they require very little maintenance. However, they can be more difficult to use, as they require more effort to push.
Another disadvantage of using a manual lawn mower is that if the grass gets too high, it’s almost impossible to cut properly. If the grass is thick and rough, for example, or if it is twice as tall as its recommended cutting height, it may be difficult for a manual reel mower.
For best results when using a manual mower, cut the grass more often during times of rapid growth, such as early spring and the rainy season.
Reel Mower Buying Guide – Features to Consider
Consider the following features when shopping for the best reel lawn mower.
Blade Cutting Height
When looking at a potential reel mowing options, we suggest beginning your evaluation with the cutting deck height. The blade reel is usually found on cutting decks. Depending on the model, you have the choice of three to nine cutting heights.
Most reel mowers have a blade cutting height that is set around 1 to 3 inches, which is ideal for short grasses but not tall-growing types, such as fescues. Other models feature adjustable cutting heights. Take into account the height of your grass type and its optimal growth stage. If you have a tall species of grass, look for a reel mower that is height adjustable to many different height settings.
Cutting Deck Width
How wide do you want the mower to be? The cutting width of a reel mower is the width of the path it cuts in a single pass. The wider the cutting width, the less time it will take to mow your lawn. However, the wider it is, the heavier it is as well(since bigger blades are heavier), and it could make it difficult to push in thick or high grass.
The usual swath width of a decent reel lawn mower is between 14 and 20 inches. We recommend a good cutting deck width to be about 18 inches, as this allows you to utilize the mower blades to their fullest potential.
Number of Blades
Reel lawn mowers have four to seven steel blades. Some versions include nonstick blades for easier cleaning. More blades result in a cleaner cut because the grass blade bends less before being sliced away.
Mowers with four or five blades are appropriate for most lawns. A few reel mowers have six or seven blades, making them ideal for getting a consistent cut on thick grass.
Reel mower is also used to create an attractive alternating pattern in the grass with lawn striping, a mowing technique that creates an appealing design in the grass.
The blades of a rotary mower don’t last as long as those on a reel mower; because the rough slicing motion wears down the blades, they tend to become dull rather quickly. When purchasing a reel mower, make sure the blades are composed of high-quality steel, preferably alloy steel.
A reel mower with blades made from ally steel requires less maintenance and is more efficient, because alloy steel has an extremely high tensile strength, making the blade resistant to corrosion and long-lasting over many uses.
Grass Clippings Collection
Some mower models come with grass collection bins attached to the rear. If you don’t want to spend time raking up the grass, this feature is fantastic. A grass collector isn’t always necessary for reel mowers, though.
You must mow your lawn on a regular basis with reel mowers. Mowing longer than 4-inch grass is difficult. You won’t have much trimmings if your grass is kept short all the time. It’s fine to leave the mulch grass trimmings on the lawn. They’ll simply dry in a few days and be carried away by the wind.
Wheels and Handles
Large wheels make it simpler to push your reel lawn mower, resulting in less friction. The machine’s wheels also determine its capacity to tackle harsh terrain.
Some reel mowers have ergonomic handles with rubber grips for maximum control over the machine. When operating a lawn mower, look for padded grips; this will help you reduce arm strain. Look for extendable and retractable handles on your model. Collapsible handles and wheels also save space when storing the mower in the shed or garage.
Weight and Size
In addition, the type and weight of your reel mower will have an impact on its operation. Because most versions are manually powered, you’ll need to do the pushing yourself.
Choose a mower with sleek, durable designs and sturdy, lightweight materials. The lighter the mower, the easier it is to push. The less bulky the design the lighter it is as well.
When purchasing your personal reel mower, you should create a budget and stick to it. This year’s models range from $60 to $200. This is far below the majority of lawn mowers, and particularly self-propelled and riding mowers.
However, once you’ve purchased a reel mower, you’ll never have to worry about purchasing gasoline or paying for engine upkeep again. These savings outweigh the cost of your mower in less than a decade.
Tips To Mowing Your Lawn With a Reel Mower
How to keep your blades sharp
In general, it’s a good idea to sharpen reel mower blades after 20 to 25 hours of use. For some people, this may be once a year; for others, it might be twice or three times in the season.
How often to use a reel lawn mower
With a reel lawn mower, you should mow the grass as often as needed to prevent removing more than a third of the blade. During the fast-growing grass season, this could involve multiple mowing sessions per week or more.
Cutting tall and/or thick grass
Manual reel mowers are simple to move through thin, sparse grass, but pushing one through thick, dense, or rough grass takes more effort. If your grass is too high to mow with a reel lawn mower, then use a larger motorized push model or riding lawn mower. You should only need to do this once, and then from there just mow more regularly with your reel mower.
Reviewed – The 6 Top Reel Lawn Mowers
Reel lawn mowers are not only good for the environment, but they’re also beneficial to your grass and your neighborhood and community. They also make clean, safe cuts and are nearly silent, in addition to eliminating the need for gas or electric power. Here we’ve curated and listed the 6 best reel mowers that we’ve found so you can make an informed choice about which one would be best for you!
#1. Fiskars 18 Inch StaySharp Max Reel Mower
- Quality Yardcare Tools: Designed to help you take back your yard, Fiskars lawn and gardening tools are equipped with smart technologies and award-winning, ergonomic features that make it easier and...
- Advanced Technology for best-in-class cutting performance: The InertiaDrive Reel boasts twice the cutting power of standard reel mowers, while the StaySharp Cutting System eliminates the cost and...
- Superior Ergonomics: Reversible grass chute can direct clippings away from your feet making it easier to mow tough patches while limiting messiness. One-touch handle height adjustment enhances your...
The #1 best reel mower we would recommend for your lawn and garden is the Fiskars 18 Inch StaySharp Max Reel Mower. It is the highest quality and most in demand reel mower currently on the market. For better inertia and less friction, the StaySharp Max model uses a chain-driven design with heavier no-contact blades. Additionally, the precision-ground blades and stationary reel of the StaySharp Cutting System never touch each other, which extends sharpness and makes mowing easier. With these distinct characteristics, it is 60% easier than other reel lawnmowers to push.
The InertiaDrive system includes a larger-diameter cutting reel and thicker blades, which doubles the clipping power for the mower. You can now rip through weeds and stubborn areas with ease because of the increased strength. The mower’s double-edged blades and wheels, which span the entire width of the machine, make it easier to avoid frustration caused by missed strips and hard edges next to sidewalks, fences, and foundations.
The StaySharp Max may be readily adjusted to your preferences and specific lawn needs. You can adjust the grass cutting height anywhere from 1 inch to 4 inches, as well as shift the handle height for increased comfort and ease, and change the grass clipping expulsion direction easily and instantaneously.
#2. Great States 415-16 16-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower
- 16-inch cutting width, easy height adjust from 1/2-inch to 2-1/2-inch, Keep in mind that the same adjustment must be performed on both sides of the mower
- 10-inch ball bearing wheels
- Easily maneuverable, perfect for ecofriendly small lawn owners
The Great States 16-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawnmower is another top of the line reel mower that you can use in your back or front yard. It has 10 inch, ball bearing wheels, and is very easy to maneuver around a small to medium sized lawn. These wheels are made of a durable composite and have radial tread tires, so they will be able to navigate any obstacles in your lawn with ease and provide a comfortable mowing experience. It can also adjust between 1/2 inch and 2 1/2 inches in cutting height, so you can maximize the health of your grass, as well as save on energy costs of mowing if you decide to make it higher.
The blades are made of heat treated alloy steel and are durable, rust resistant, and will cut more efficiently than most other reel lawnmowers. They are also very quiet when in use, and they stay sharp longer so you can make the most of your purchase. The handle is ergonomically designed to reduce tiredness and cramping that you may experience when using other mowers, and the powdered coated finish helps it last longer and prevent any rusting. The 16 inch cutting width is wide enough to get through a decent size yard in little time, but small enough to maneuver easily around any lawn obstacles or tight spaces.
#3. American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14 14-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower
- 5-blade reel with a cutting width of 14” and durable 10” polymer wheels for maximum maneuverability
- Mechanical lawn mower with an adjustable blade height of 1”-2.25” with scissor action cut
- Manual grass cutter blades made of heat-treated alloy steel that stays sharp for years
The American Lawn Mower Company 14-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower is the smallest model listed here, so it is best for small gardens and lawns, but that does not mean it isn’t every bit as powerful and as high quality as the other reel mowers mentioned. It has 5 blades which are 14 inches in diameter and made of an alloy steel that is heat treated so they will stay sharp for many years if taken care of correctly. It has ball bearing wheels that are 10 inches in diameter, and made of a durable polymer, which means they can turn smoothly and offer a high degree of maneuverability.
This reel mower only weighs 22 pounds and can easily be carried between a garage or shed and your lawn, and storage is not a problem due to how lightweight and compact it is. The handles are cushioned to ensure they are comfortable to hold. The cutting height can be adjusted between 1 inch and 1 3/4 inches with its even scissor action, and this model is powerful to cut grass up to 4 inches tall. If you have a small front or back yard that you would like to keep neatly mowed without too much hassle, then this little reel mower is perfect for getting the job done right.
#4. Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower
- Classic Scotts 20 inch push no-motor manual reel rotary lawn mower features 20" cutting width, 5-blade ball bearing reel, and 10" dual tracking wheels
- Quick-snap 1"-3" cutting height adjustment for a clean, even cut every time with this Scotts classic hand push reel rotary 20 inch lawn mower
- Blades on the Scotts classic hand push reel rotary 20 inch lawn mower are made of quality, heat-treated alloy steel for staying sharp longer
Next on our list of the best reel mowers for your lawn and garden is the Scotts 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower. With a cutting width of 20 inches, this is widest model listed, but despite its large cutting width, it is still considerate to maneuver around your yard thanks to the 10 inch ball bearing, dual tracking wheels that are made of durable polymer, and the additional rugged radial tires attached to the back. It can cut grass at any height between 1 inch and 3 inches tall – you have 9 different height adjustments to choose from, and it very easy to switch between them using the quick-snap height adjusters.
The Scotts 20-Inch has 5 steel blades that are heat treated to stay durable, sharp, and effective for multiple years. You will only have to sharpen the blades of this mower once every 4-5 years, so you won’t have to buy parts or pay for any upkeep until then. With this reel mower, the grass blades do not rip or tear underneath it. Instead, each blade of grass is cleanly snipped as if by a pair of scissors, leaving your lawn healthy and ready to grow back stronger, instead of tearing vital fluids and leaving your grass open to insects and disease.
#5. Sun Joe Mow Joe MJ501M 18-Inch Manual Reel Mower with Catcher
The Sun Joe Mow Joe 18-Inch Manual Reel Mower with Catcher is a great larger option for those looking for a more substantial reel mower. It has a cutting width of 18 inches, and weighs 28 pounds, so it is strong and durable enough to smoothly cut even long and thick grass. The large 18 inch path that it cuts means that it will save you a lot of time when cutting your lawn. However, it also is agile enough to maneuver around garden plants and other lawn obstacles without much effort, and the cushioned handlebar adds to the feeling of ease and comfort when mowing.
The Mow Joe has a manual height adjuster with 9 different positions, so whatever height of grass you have, or want to have, this mower can handle it. It cuts through almost any type of grass with ease, including tough weeds and even Bermuda grasses, thanks to the sharp steel blades. The grass catcher can hold up to 6.6 gallons of grass, so you will waste less time emptying it every few passes, and it attaches and detaches easily to save that extra bit of time. This mower also has two sets of wheels – a 10 inch treaded front set and a rear set that is 6 inches.
#6. GreenWorks 25052 16-Inch Reel Lawn Mower with Grass Catcher
- 16" cutting path gets the job done quicker and more efficiently
- 2-in-1 feature provides mulching and rear bag capabilities
- 4 position height adjustment offers a range of cutting height from 1 1/8" to 2 1/4" for the perfect cut on all grass types
The final reel mower on our best of list is the GreenWorks 16-Inch Reel Lawn Mower with Grass Catcher. However, that does not mean at all that it is less capable than any of the others. It is lightweight and easily transportable from any storage facility you keep it, like a garage or shed, to your lawn, and the strong alloy steel blades will make quick work of any grass it comes across. It even has foldable handles so you can store it in very tight spaces – it will not take up any valuable garage space.
It also comes with a 2-in-1 feature that provides both mulching and rear bag capabilities, and 4 position height adjustment allows you to choose the height of your grass between 1 1/8″ to 2 1/4″. The 16-inch cutting path and its two sets of wheels – the front set 10 inch treaded tires and the back set a small 2-inch set – provides optimal maneuvering around your lawn without breaking stride.
To Sum Up
Now that you know what to look for when purchasing a reel lawn mower, it’s time to get out there and find the perfect one for your needs. So, whether you are looking for a reel lawn mower to help with an environmentally-friendly landscape or want one for the challenge of using a more traditional type of lawn mower, we have provided a buying guide to the top six reel mowers in 2022.
We hope this buying guide has helped you narrow down your search and that you find the perfect reel mower for your needs and budget. If you’re waiting for our top recommendation, we’d have to say our favorite reel lawn mower is the Fiskars 18 Inch StaySharp Max Reel Mower.
However, regardless of which reel mower you purchase, remember to consider all of the factors we’ve outlined when making your decision, as each one can make a big difference when it comes time to actually using the mower. And finally, always remember to practice safe mowing habits! Now that you know how to use a reel lawn mower, be sure to keep these tips in mind for optimal results. Happy mowing!