If you are fed up with noisy and polluting gas-powered mowers or expensive electric mowers that always seem to break down when you need them most, you might be interested in going back to basics and investing in a reel mower.
Inexpensive, practically silent, emissions-free and a pleasure to use, more and more people are turning to this trusted tool that has been around for generations. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, here’s our guide to choosing the best reel mower.
Best Reel Mower Comparison Chart 2019
American Lawn Mower Company Push Reel Lawn Mower
Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower
Great States Push Reel Lawn Mower
Remington RM3100 Reel Push Mower
Scotts Outdoor Power Tools Push Reel Lawn Mower
The Best Reel Mower on the Market 2019
1. Fiskars 362050-1001 StaySharp Max Reel Mower
This is a high-quality and high-performance reel mower from Fiskars. If you want a quiet and environmentally-friendly solution for cutting your grass that boasts plenty of extra features for comfort and convenience, this is a mower that could be well worth checking out.
The first thing you will notice about this mower is how easy it is to push, despite its weight. This is due to the InertiaDrive system, which is designed to make it up to 60% easier to operate than other comparable mowers.
The StaySharp blade system reduces contact with anything that is not grass, reducing wear, preserving the blades’ sharpness and ensuring the mower continues to perform well for an extended period.
With the InertiaDrive and StaySharp features combined, this is a mower that is suitable for any grass type, delivering the power you need each time you use it.
Another addition we appreciate is the adjustable grass chute. This allows you to choose where the mower ejects the grass clippings – you can send them out of the front, the back or underneath, whichever is better for you.
One particularly well-thought-out design feature is the inset wheels. With most reel mowers, since the blades operate within the span of the wheels, you often end up with uncut zones along fences or other borders.
Not so with this model – the inset wheels ensure the mower cuts along the entirety of its 18” width, eliminating uncut patches and minimizing any extra work for you.
It also features an adjustable height setting that is easy to change with one hand. The maximum height is an impressive 4”, giving you complete control over how long or short you mow your lawn.
For a reel mower, this is an expensive model – but since it is such a high-quality piece of kit, it also represents excellent value for money. It is a little heavy, but as we mentioned, with the built-in mowing aid, this is no problem.
Overall, a great option for someone looking for a top-end reel mower that will make mowing the lawn quick and easy.
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2. American Lawn Mower Company 1204-14 14-Inch 4-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower (Our Top Recommended)
If you prefer a classic lawnmower the way they used to be made from a long-established all-American company, this model could be just what you are looking. It is a simple but well-built reel lawnmower that will allow you to mow the lawn with no noise and zero emissions.
It features durable oversized 8.5” front wheels along with four high-quality blades that are made of heat-treated steel alloy to ensure they keep sharp for longer. As they spin, they snip grass cleanly rather than shredding it, which is much better for the health of your lawn.
The mowing height can be easily adjusted – although a slight disappointment is that the maximum height is only 1.75”, less than on some other models. The cutting path is 14” wide – while not the widest available, this is still plenty to make mowing the lawn a breeze.
This lawnmower is suitable for most types of grass, including fescue, bluegrass and ryegrass. It can also be used on grass that has been invaded by weeds or crabgrass, allowing you to keep your lawn under control.
This mower has an extremely simple design and will appeal to people who don’t enjoy tinkering with power tools that often seem to break down. It is also simple and intuitive to assemble straight from the box, and most people will be able to do it at home themselves.
We love this mower for its simplicity, its effectiveness, its quality and its style – as well as its very reasonable price tag. If you prefer to do things the old-fashioned way or you just want a quiet and non-polluting mower, this could be ideal. A clear winner for us and our top pick.
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3. Great States 304-14 14-Inch, 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower
This is a mower that will appeal to those who like to keep things as simple as possible. It comes with none of the hassles you may encounter with powered mowers, but even for a reel mower, it manages to keep things as elegantly simple as possible.
The five blades are made of high-quality heat-treated steel alloy that will retain their sharpness for many cutting sessions. They produce a clean cut by snipping the grass, which is much better for your lawn than the tearing action of a powered mower.
It can cut a 14” swathe of grass with every pass, and the large 8.5” composite wheels make it easy to glide over your lawn.
You can adjust the height at which you mow from 0.5” to 1.75”, allowing you to control how close you crop your lawn – although we were a little disappointed you can’t select a higher setting than this maximum.
We love the classic retro look and design of this mower, with its red color and T-shaped handle. The handle itself is very ergonomically designed and comfortable to hold while the mower is relatively light and easy to manage.
This is also a very reasonably priced item. Not only will it save you cash on gas or electricity bills that you would otherwise have to spend running a powered machine, but it also has one of the lowest price tags of any good quality reel mower on the market.
If you want a simple mower that reminds you of simpler times, this could be the right pick for you. It provides a convenient and economical way to look after your grass and is another recommended option.
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4. Remington RM3100 18-Inch Reel Push Mower
This reel lawnmower from Remington is lightweight and easy to use. As long as the grass you are cutting is not too long and the ground is flat and level, even a child would be able to operate this mower.
It features a respectable 18” mowing deck that will cut a good swathe of lawn with each pass. The five-blade reel snips grass in a way that keeps it healthy and best able to recover from the trauma of being cut, unlike the tearing action of a powered lawnmower.
One of the best features of this lawnmower, and not one we’ve seen on many reel mowers, is the 2-in-1 cutting and mulching capability. As you cut, this mower catches the clippings as they are thrown up and bags them ready for use as mulch when you finish.
The mowing height is adjustable, which is done using a dual handle system for ease of use. You can choose a mowing height of between 0.75” and 2.5”.
The ergonomically contoured and foam padded handle also makes mowing the lawn as comfortable an experience as possible.
This mower features front and back wheels, 6” at the back and an oversized 10” at the front. This is supposed to give superior maneuverability as well as extra help in dealing with uneven terrain.
Unfortunately – and this is one of the very few issues we have with this mower – the success of this design is debatable. This mower can occasionally prove a little awkward to turn, and like many reel mowers, it struggles to cut as effectively if the lawn is not perfectly flat.
Other than this, this mower has a lot going for it. It is easy to use, does the job it is designed for and comes at a very reasonable price. If you are looking for an inexpensive mower to take care of smaller lawns, this one could be worth a look.
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5. Scotts Outdoor Power Tools 2000-20 Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower
If you are looking to make the switch from a powered lawnmower to something simpler and more elegant, this reel mower from the American Lawnmower Company could be just what you are looking for.
It features five high-quality blades that rotate on a ball bearing reel, resulting in a clean and precise cut. The blades themselves are heat-treated and made of a strong steel alloy, ensuring they will stay sharp for longer.
We particularly like the way it is easy to adjust the height between 1” and 3” with the simple “quick snap” action. 3” is also one of the highest settings you will find on any reel mower, giving you plenty of flexibility and control over how you choose to mow your lawn.
Another positive is the wide 20” cutting path – with this mower, you cut more of your lawn with each pass, meaning you won’t have to go back over the same sections lots of times, saving you extra work.
This mower also includes an extra set of tracking wheels, giving you added control and maneuverability when cutting the grass.
Furthermore, it boasts an ergonomic design with a comfortable handle and a cushioned grip, making it a pleasure to use.
At only 34lbs, it is relatively lightweight and easy to push – some reel mowers can be quite a struggle to use but not this one – and it is also incredibly easy to assemble. Most people will be able to put this together and have it ready for use in no time.
If we have to find any faults with it, one might be that we are slightly concerned with how long this mower will last. While the blades and other essential parts are high quality, other areas like the handle or wheels seem less so.
Also, this mower doesn’t like mowing on uneven surfaces – but that is common to all reel mowers and not just specific to this model.
Overall, a great option if you are in the market for a simple, ecological solution to cutting your grass.
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If you’re considering buying a reel mower, you probably have a lot of questions. First, let’s look at why you would want to buy a reel mower – as well as when you shouldn’t buy one. After that, we’ll go on to talk about some of the things you should look for when choosing the best reel mower for you.
What are reel mowers?
Reel mowers are the old-style lawnmowers that people have been using for generations. At one time, they were the only choice you had – but then along came gas-powered mowers and then electric mowers, and since then, they have fallen out of favor.
However, in our modern and more ecologically-aware world, they are going through something of a Renaissance. People are turning away from noisy, polluting gas mowers or expensive electric models and are once again choosing a type of mower that harks back to a bygone age.
How do they work?
Reel mowers are lawnmowers that are powered by you. As you push them over your lawn, the moving wheels turn the blades that cut the grass.
These mowers have a different cutting action from regular powered mowers. While gas or electric mowers tend to tear the grass, reel mowers snip the grass with an action similar to that of a pair of scissors.
This is better for your grass as it doesn’t damage the delicate plants and allows them to recover better from having their top half cut off.
What are the advantages of reel mower?
Reel mowers offer several advantages over powered mowers. Here are the most important.
- More affordable to buy
Although top-end models exist that can cost more than some powered mowers, the most basic versions are far more affordable than all but the most basic powered models.
- Cheaper to run
Once you have bought your reel mower, one of the big advantages is that there are no further costs to run it. You power it yourself by pushing it, and you don’t have to pay for gas or electricity to make it run.
- Minimal maintenance
Gas mowers are notorious for needing constant care and maintenance to keep them in good working order. However, even electric mowers can break down or go wrong.
With a reel mower, on the other hand, the only maintenance you need to do is basic cleaning as well as sharpening the blades perhaps once a season. Beyond this, reel mowers require very little care.
- Zero pollution
One of the main reasons you may be considering a reel mower is that they are the most environmentally-friendly way to mow your lawn.
While gas mowers obviously give off harmful emissions, even electric mowers require electricity to run. With a reel mower, the only power required comes from you.
- Practically noiseless
Gas powered tools are all noisy, and there is no mistaking the sound of someone using a gas mower to cut their lawn in the distance. Electric mowers are quieter, but they are still not silent.
However, the sound made by a reel mower is minimal – and some might even say relaxing and therapeutic.
- Better for your grass
The scissor action of a reel mower cuts your grass more cleanly, which is better for the health of your lawn.
- Good exercise
Since you are providing the power yourself, mowing the lawn with a reel mower also give you a light to moderate workout – more so than pushing a powered mower or self-propelled model.
If you find it hard to fit daily or weekly exercise into your hectic lifestyle, mowing the lawn once a week with a reel mower can give you a free workout!
When not to buy one?
Reel mowers are not suitable for everyone or all yards.
They are best suited for mowing smaller areas – if your lawn is too large, you might find using a reel mower quickly tires you out.
They are also designed for well-kept lawns and flat ground. If the ground is uneven, since the turning wheels ower the blades, you may find that there are patches that get missed. Similarly, if you try to cut overgrown grass with one of these, you are likely to find it hard work.
What to look for before buying reel mower?
Reel mowers are simple devices, but there are some points you should consider when buying one. Here are the main features to look at.
The blades are the all-important element in a reel mower. You should check that they are made of a high-quality, solid material that will keep its sharpness for a long time. A mower with more blades will also cut more efficiently.
Like other types of mower, reel mowers allow you to adjust the height you cut at. Pay attention to the maximum and minimum settings – some let you cut grass as short as 0.5” or as long as 4”. Also, look at how easy it is to change the height configuration.
Weight is an important consideration since if the mower is too heavy for you, you won’t be able to push it. If you are worried about your strength or stamina, choose a lighter model.
Ease of use
Pay attention to how easy a mower is to use – some are designed to increase the cutting power, making them less effort to work with.
Practical, environmentally-friendly and inexpensive
If you are looking to save money while using a mower that is a practical and ecological choice, a reel mower is the obvious solution. There are many models to choose from, but if you are unsure which to pick, any of the mowers in this review would be a great place to start.
My name is Peter Weeks, Writer of The Daily Gardener. Gardening has always been my passion, nothing gives me quite the satisfaction that feeling the soil sift through my fingers does. Give me a spade, a shovel, and a rake, and I can happily while away the day transforming a patch of land into a beautiful oasis. To me, gardening is life. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s something that I truly love doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that I’ve no intention of ever giving up.