The Top 9 Best Reel Mowers (2021 Reviews)
You don’t have to fuss around brown patches, fungus, and insect infestation. These best reel mowers snip overgrown grass like a pair of scissors for a clean, healthy, and professionally manicured lawn. And all it takes is your strength – no electricity, no gas, no noisy motor, and no harmful emissions.
You can even put your leveling project permanently on hold because there’s one option made for the sloping, uneven, and rough terrains!
Here are the nine best reel mower models for a healthier, cleaner, and professionally manicured lawn.
- 9 Best Reel Mowers For A Healthy And Perfect Lawn
- 1. Great States Push Reel Lawn Mower – Best Overall
- 2. Sun Joe MJ501M Manual Reel Mower With Grass Catcher – Budget Pick
- 3. Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower – Premium Pick
- 4. Gardena 4020 Push Reel Lawn Mower
- 5. American Lawn Mower Company Push Reel Lawn Mower
- 6. Earthwise 1715-16EW Push Reel Lawn Mower
- 7. Greenworks Reel Lawn Mower with Grass Catcher
- 8. Remington RM3100 Reel Push Mower
- 9. Scotts Outdoor Power Tools 2000-20S Push Reel Lawn Mower
- Your Guide To Buying The Best Reel Mower
9 Best Reel Mowers For A Healthy And Perfect Lawn
We’ve gone through hundreds of manual lawn mowers, so you don’t have to.
Check out our review round-up for the nine best reels mowers. Plus, read about how to choose a reel lawn mower that best caters to your lawn needs.
First off, we have the best overall reel mower. The Great States Push Mower is the perfect balance of cutting width, easy steering, and multiple adjustments.
The 5-blade reel has a 16-inch cutting width, making it suitable for small lawns with all types of grass. The lower blade count means it can cut taller grass more efficiently. The medium cutting width is just right for optimal steering. It’s not too narrow that you spend more time going through your lawn. But it’s not too wide that it’s hard to move around.
The weight is in the sweet spot too. At 25 pounds, it’s light enough to carry but heavy enough to keep the blades close to the ground. It’s great for uneven patches because more lightweight mowers will just bump off on impact. The added weight lets the mower hug the ground for a better cut.
You can also do a lot of fine-tuning for the wheels, rollers, and blades. It is excellent for expert lawn keepers that want a precise cut every single time. The roller adjustments are great for getting that coveted striped look on your simple yard.
Unlike the other mowers, this has a broader cutting length range. You can go as low as 0.5 inches for an ultra-tight look or a more lush and comfy height of 2.5 inches.
With all the adjustments available, this mower is for everyone. Beginners can use it straight out of the box with easy assembly. Advanced users can play around with the different levels of each component. The Great States Push mower works for any grass type and is still budget-friendly.
2. Sun Joe MJ501M Manual Reel Mower With Grass Catcher – Budget Pick
Wheel size: 10″ front, 6″ rear
- Cutting width: 18″
- Blade count: 5
- Handle style: Loop
The Sun Joe MJ501M is the reel mower that you get the most out of your buck. Yes, it sounds super fancy. And for the price, it looks fancy too!
But this push reel mower has more to it than its looks. For less than $100, you get a wide cutting width, 4-wheel operation, and fine height adjustment. All packed with a 7-gallon grass cutter.
With all that, you can cut more grass per pass. And you can do it easily thanks to the added back wheels. You can even catch most lawn clippings (some are bound to fly out of basket range). And then use it for mulching or your chicken’s snack.
The reel mower has five blades that cut between 1.6 to 2.6 inches. It’s not the shortest range, but it’s perfect for backyard turf. The grass stays comfy enough to step on, but not long too long that the grass blades are droopy.
Within that sweet spot range, you can adjust the height in 9 levels so you can fine-tune your cuttings. That makes for a cleaner, more precise look for your yard.
A drawback here is the spacing between the wheels and the blade. There’s a significant gap, so you need to overlap your next lane with the previous one. But that doesn’t cheat you out of the 18-inch cutting width. So even with the overlap, you’re still cutting wider lanes of grass.
This reel mower is fantastic for maintaining small to medium backyards. You can cut tall grass easily with the low blade count and good steering of the four wheels. You get a lot of perks for the money that you spend. And that’s what the budget pick is all about.
Let’s take a look at our premium pick for reel mowers. The Fiskars StaySharp Max reel mower has a whole lot of great engineering rolled into one unit.
The blades stay true to their name. They will always be sharp, thanks to zero contact between the reel blades and the bed knife. No contact means less wear and tear and less sharpening.
It also makes this mower easier to push than others. The space between the blades makes jamming less of an issue. Plus, the added weight of the mower gives it more power to go through thick patches.
Yes, a heavy mower is a bit difficult to push and maneuver, but its momentum makes it lighter for you to steer when it does get started. The reel is even connected to a chain system rather than the wheels.
So even if you stop pushing, the reel keeps spinning—kind of like a bicycle. When you’re going fast and stop pedaling, you keep moving because the gear chains still move. That gives you time to adjust your position without starting from a stop.
And last but not least. This reel mower has a grass chute that can either toss the cut grass backward or forward. It comes super handy when you’re going out but need to do a quick mow. But you don’t want grass all over your shoes when you’re done. Just flip the chute forward, push for a few minutes without getting sweaty and be on your way.
It is the ultimate mower for homeowners without a budget issue. With the Fiskars StaySharp Max reel mower’s features, you save time and effort. You can also reduce clean-up! It cuts all types of grass, including thick ones like Bermuda.
If you like to keep your grass super short, this isn’t the mower for you because the shortest your grass will be is 1 inch tall. But as long as you don’t have an issue with a heavy start and a lighter pocket, this mower is excellent for you.
It uses contactless cutting technology (your reel doesn’t touch the bed knife) so that there’s no swishing sound as you mow. It also helps keep your blades sharp and gives allowance in case there are bigger clumps of grass. There’s less chance for grass-jamming with this technique so expect easy pushing all the time.
This German reel mower is perfect for small lawns with short-growing grass. The five blades of the reel cut half an inch to 1.5 inches. That’s ideal for grasses like Bermuda and Kentucky Bluegrass (1).
This reel mower is also great for keeping in a small shed. The loop handle folds into thirds for compact storage.
Getting a huge mower loaded with all sorts of features will be overkill when you have a small lawn. Thankfully, the Gardena 4020 is made exactly for your needs.
This push reel lawn mower is equipped with 10-inch wheels is lightweight and effortless to push and easy to maneuver across your yard. The wheels even have deep treads to give you more traction and peace of mind that you won’t slip when cutting grass early in the morning or after a light drizzle.
How about its cutting efficiency? It uses five blades with a 12” cutting width to slice through overgrown grass without any difficulties. Plus, your neighbors will appreciate the quiet cutting power of this mower.
The American Lawn Mower Company is a bit bigger than the Gardena reel mower, but it assembles within 5 minutes with no tools required.
The extra 2 inches of cutting width means you can mow a little more without taking too much away from steering. The wheels are also slimmer, so you can get a more refined cut along the edges of your yard.
It also has a top bar to bend taller grass into the blades, giving your yard a cleaner and more even cut. There is a drawback, though – the bar pushes the grass blades down, it gets thicker and harder to cut.
Solution? Don’t let the grass get too tall, especially if it has thicker leaf blades.
This American mower is excellent for small yards with slow-growing, short grass. The 4-blade reel mows to 0.5 to 1.5 inches. And it works best on cool-season grass like bluegrass, fescue, and rye.
The bar helps feed taller grass to blade-level, but finer blades of grass get missed out. So, mow regularly for a more consistent result.
Let’s amp up the cutting width and blade count with the EarthWise 1715 reel mower.
The 7-blade reel and 16-inch cutting width mean you can cut a wider and denser area with less effort. So if you have thicker, more coarse grass, this mower helps you maintain it better. More blades make it easier to cut the rough grass. It leaves cleaner cuts that keep your grass healthier.
Pro tip: Get the momentum going before running through a thick patch of grass. This way, you get a cleaner cut without getting stuck or damaging the leaves.
Another cool feature of this unit is that it has a broader cutting length range. You can cut grass a little lower than 0.5 inches and up to 2.5 inches. So, if your grass needs frequent cutting, this reel mower is undoubtedly a must-have. You can also use it for grass that can’t be cut too short.
You also don’t have to worry about the uneven ground. This reel mower has 10-inch wheels and two sets of high traction rollers at the back. It helps keep your mower on the ground so you can mow grass over hills and slopes.
This 7-blade reel mower is excellent for short grass that needs frequent mowing. Grass varieties like Bermuda, Zoysia, and other bentgrass cut well with this.
Get this if you want a medium-cutting width and short-trimmed grass. It’s extra useful for those with uneven or sloped lawns.
Here’s a good option for those that like to keep lawn clippings. The Greenworks Reel Lawn Mower comes with a grass catcher, so you don’t have to do another run-through of your lawn just to rake up the cut grass.
It doesn’t catch everything, but it still saves you enough time and energy. And it’s still better than having all your clippings all over your beds or covering your solar lights and driveway.
This 5-blade reel mower is excellent for taller grass that you don’t want to keep too short. The maximum cutting length is 1-⅛ inch. So if you’re cutting new grass for the first time, this helps to cut just enough and train the grass to grow a bit wider than taller.
It’s also more gentle with the grass since it doesn’t have a front bar. Without it, the fragile grass doesn’t get additionally stressed by getting bent over before cutting.
Plus, at 26 pounds, it’s still relatively lightweight. You don’t need to worry about deep tire marks on your fresh grass. But this doesn’t work well for uneven terrain. Going through bumps and dips stalls the reel mower. It works best on leveled lawns.
The Greenworks Reel mower is a good option for intermediate mowers that know how to handle new grass growth. The grass catcher addition is excellent for those that like to collect clippings. They make good mulch, bedding, or feed for some animals.
The low blade count works well for keeping the grass at a moderate height. So this isn’t ideal for maintaining a mini-golf course or anything like that.
The Remington RM3100 can get the job done even if your big yard has a few hills or slopes. Unlike other mowers, it has a four-wheel system and a wider cutting width.
You can even adjust the cutting height independently for each side, letting you cut evenly at an angle. At the same time, the back wheels help you go through bumps and dips in your lawn.
Unlike the previous reel lawn mowers, you have more control over the blade’s cutting height. You can adjust it from 0.75 inches to 2.5 inches. That’s a good range to keep your grass exactly how high you want it.
It cuts tall grass well, thanks to the 5-blade reel. It works smoother for thinner grass types, but it cuts thick grass well too. You just have to put a bit more elbow grease in for thicker grass.
It takes more passes to get everything, even when you have taller grass, but this 18-inch wide reel lawn mower gets the job done. It also has a grass catcher that does an okay job collecting the clippings, but some don’t bother with it unless they need to use it.
This classic push reel mower is right for you if you have a medium to large yard with uneven or sloped areas. It also works wonders for mixed-grass turfs and for collecting lawn clippings. Overall, this is the most versatile mower so far.
Wheel size: 10” front, 6” rear
- Cutting width: 20”
- Blade count: 5
- Handle style: Loop
Now, if you want the widest coverage for each pass, Scotts Classic Push Reel’s 20-inch cutting width is made for you.
It’s pretty similar to the Remington reel lawnmower. You can independently change the cutting weight and even use it for uneven yards. But, unlike the Remington, this has a taller cutting range, from 1 to 3 inches. So it’s not great for mowing putting turf.
What this reel mower excels at is cutting precision. It has a 5-blade reel working on ball bearings. It makes it run smoother than the usual gear systems because it’s less prone to jamming.
Jamming pulls the grass and crushes the leaves that don’t cut right away. It’s like cutting paper with kid scissors. The paper gets crumpled while you try to keep cutting through. The ball bearings prevent this, so you spend more time mowing than backtracking to readjust. That means less stress for your grass.
This extra-wide manual reel mower is perfect for bigger lawns and more experienced reel mowers. You can make fine adjustments to the cutting height, allowing custom and precise cuts for average or thick types of grass. Plus, the extra back wheels make it easier to maneuver this wide mower.
Your Guide To Buying The Best Reel Mower
Now that you’ve had a look at our picks, it’s time to break down the mowers into different parts. Get to know what each piece does, and the different variations help you mow more efficiently.
Cutting Height and Grass Type
The first thing you need to know before getting a reel mower is the type of grass you have. You can get the most expensive mower out there. But if it doesn’t match what your grass needs, you’re wasting your money and effort.
Each grass variety has its own needs. But to make it easier, they’re divided into the cool-season and warm-season categories (2).
- Cool-season grasses grow tallest during spring and fall. Some examples of cool grasses are bluegrass and fescues. Their ideal height is between 1 and 4 inches. It’s a bit taller because of the grass anatomy. Trimming the grass too short may also cut the crown that sprouts new leaves (3). The Scotts Push Reel Lawn Mower fits this grass type perfectly.
- Warm-season grasses grow the tallest during the summer. The most common warm grasses are Bermuda and Zoysia. They tolerate a wider range of growing conditions, so you can mow these grasses super short, and they will still thrive.
It’s important to maintain your grass’s ideal height to keep it growing healthy (4).
“The general rule of thumb for mowing is never to remove more than one-third of the total grass blade length at a single cutting.”
That said, you have to mow only when your grass grows ⅓ tall than the ideal height. You don’t really need to mow your lawn unless your grass grows fast.
The bottom line is to choose a mower that fits the cutting range of your grass. You can’t just cut any type of grass short all the time. It might look good, but it’s not healthy for all grass types.
Number Of Blades and Mower Weight
Everyone in the lawnmowing community knows that the taller your grass, the fewer blades you need. But why?
Fewer blades mean more space to cut. So, taller, thinner grass moves more efficiently and cuts more evenly without getting jammed. Grasses like Rye, Fescue, or Bluegrass mow easily with fewer blades.
On the other hand, stocky grass with wider grass blades cut better with a high blade reel count. The 7-blade Earthwise Reel Mower works wonders on the short and thick blades of Bermuda grass.
Don’t forget to consider the weight of your reel mower. It’s powered by manual pushing. So the heavier the mower, the more momentum it builds while you push.
A good weight gives more power for the mower to go through thicker patches. It also keeps the mower on the ground.
So it doesn’t throw off easily on uneven ground. That way, you end up with an even cut throughout your yard. Here’s why a good, clean-cut is essential for grass.
The Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower is heavy at 50 pounds. But it builds enough momentum to keep the chains going even if the wheels stop. The downside of a mower is it’s too heavy, making it harder to steer. So best to keep a good balance of weight and blade count.
Wheel Size & Cutting Width
The cutting coverage doesn’t only depend on the cutting width but also your reel mower’s wheels. These two parts work together to make the most out of your passes. A wider cutting width means more grass cut per run-through. But the wider the reel, the harder it is to steer. Bigger wheels help with this because you get more control.
The Remington RM3100 Reel Push Mower has four wheels. The extra back wheels help steer the 18-inch wide reel mower through slopes or bumpy areas.
It’s essential to get a reel mower that has wheels closest to the reels as possible. This way, you don’t have to overlap your lanes to get a cleaner cut. It also lets you get as close to the edges so that you work less with a weed whacker.
Other Key Features of a Reel Mower
We’re done with important features. But there are so much more add-ons available to make your mowing experience less of a chore.
First up is mulching. Mulch is any organic material you put on top of the soil (5).
“A reel mower snips the grass, like scissors, leaving finer trimmings to mulch in your yard. This mulch not only nourishes your lawn, it prevents weed seeds from germinating.”
Like the Greenworks Reel Lawn Mower, some mowers have rollers in the back that gently press down the mulch. Pressing helps keep the cuttings down, so it doesn’t blow away easily.
b. Type Of Handle
Next is the handle type. It’s all about Physics with this feature. The most common are the loop and T-type handles. Lighter reel mowers usually have loop handles for easy steering. Think of it like pushing a grocery cart around aisles.
Other mowers that cut thicker grass, like the Great States Push Reel Lawn Mower, have T-type handles that are better for more strenuous pushing. You concentrate the force to the middle of the reel to get a better forward push.
c. Grass Chute
A reversible grass chute is a fantastic add-on, like the Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower one. You can choose whether you want your clippings going forward or backward.
d. Grass Catchers
If you want to keep your lawn clippings, look for a reel mower with a grass catcher. The chute system minimizes the need to rake clipped grass. Bear in mind that you won’t catch 100% of the grass you clip. But you do get a significant amount that you can use in your flower beds or feed to some pet chickens or bunnies.
Yes, reel mowers cut better than rotary mowers because they cut grass like a pair of scissors. The blades of grass cut cleanly, and there’s no damage to the leaf tissues. Rotary mowers use a form of suction to gather the grass and then cut it with blades. This cutting method puts a lot of stress on the grass. Plus, it leaves the tips mangled and eventually brown.
The benefits of using a reel mower are zero carbon emissions and power consumption. Reel mowers use sheer human strength for power. The only thing you emit when using them is sweat. There are no gas or oil leaks and hazardous fumes. So it’s good for the environment and cardio.
Aside from the environmental benefits, reel mowers are better for your grass. They cut with precision and don’t leave damage to your turf.
How often you mow with a reel mower depends on the type of grass you have. Some grass grows fast, and you have to trim every 2-3 days. In comparison, other types grow slowly and only need mowing once a week.
You only mow when your grass goes over its ideal height. If you cut the grass shorter than it needs to be, your grass may not grow again. And if you wait too long, it will be harder to trim, and you might have a pest problem by then.
You maintain a reel mower by keeping the blades sharp and making adjustments when needed. Your blades need to be sharp to cut efficiently and cleanly. Sharp blades prevent grass damage and jamming throughout the mowing process.
An easy way to test sharpness is with paper. If the blades cut clean throughout the reel’s width, it’s sharp enough to cut grass.
Most reel mowers are rust-resistant. But adding oil to the wheel mechanism when it feels tight makes it run better.
- All You Need To Know About Warm Season Grass. Retrieved from: https://www.pennington.com/all-products/grass-seed/resources/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-warm-season-grass
- The Most Popular Types Of Lawn Grass. Retrieved From: https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/lawn-garden/a32130743/types-of-grass/
- The Cool-season Turfgrasses: Basic Structures, Growth And Development. Retrieved from: https://extension.psu.edu/the-cool-season-turfgrasses-basic-structures-growth-and-development
- What Is The Ideal Height To Cut The Grass. Retrieved from: https://www.diynetwork.com/How-to/Outdoors/Gardening/What-is-the-ideal-height-to-cut-the-grass
- Reel Lawn Mowers. Retrieved from: https://www.planetnatural.com/Reel-lawn-mowers/