When it comes to lawn care, there are a variety of tools and products available on the market which allow homeowners to take care of their property. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses, and what works for one person may not work for the next. While there are a number of choices when it comes to fertilizers, weed killers, and other products to use on your lawn, nothing is more important than your mower. So today I’ll be digging into everything you need to know to choose the best reel mower for your property.
In this article I’ll explain exactly what a reel mower is, what types of lawn they’re best for (and how you’ll know if a reel mower isn’t right for you), tips to choose the right one, and finally I’ll share my top picks for the best reel mowers in every price range this year.
So let’s get into it.
Quick Buyer’s Comparison Table (my picks)
For those who just came here for my mower picks here they are:
|Reel Mower||What it Costs||Where to Buy Online|
|Earthwise 5-Blade 14″ Push Reel Mower||< $100||Amazon|
|American Lawn Mower 14″ Reel Mower||< $100||Amazon|
|Great States 18″ 5-Blade Push Reel Mower||$100 – $150||Amazon|
|Scotts 16″ 5-Blade Premium Reel Mower||$100 – $150||Amazon|
|Fiskars StaySharp Max 18″ Push Reel Mower||$150 – $250||Amazon|
|LawnChick.com is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.|
And for those who are interested in learning what goes into choosing the perfect reel mower (and more in-depth analysis of each of my 5 picks), please keep reading!
What Is a Reel Mower? (how it’s unique)
Everybody knows the importance of having a good quality lawn mower for your lawn.
Mowers should be easy to use, maneuverable, and able to last for a long time.
With that being said, it is important to explore all options before settling for a mower. A great option is investing in a reel mower over the traditional gas or electric mower (if you have the right lawn for it – more on that in a minute).
For starters, what is a reel mower?
In simple terms, reel mowers are manual lawn mowers. They are not powered by gas or electricity like the others you may see (or hear) down the street. And when looking into reel mowers, the first thing to do is erase the idea that a manual mower means more work.
There are a variety of reel mowers on the market with different features to make your job easier when mowing your lawn.
How a Reel Mower Works
Reel Mowers work very simply. For most, all you need to do is push it back and forth across your lawn.
For commercial or farm areas, some prefer to attach the mower to the end of a motorized vehicle for faster results.
In terms of its construction, reel mowers work like scissors. The blades spin from left to right and cut the grass.
Unlike other types of lawn mowers (which sometimes end up uprooting the grass) reel mowers are much more gentle (a quality their owners love).
Why Use a Reel Mower? (the benefits)
While it all comes down to personal preference, there are many benefits to having a reel mower for your lawn.
Here are a few:
As mentioned earlier, reel mowers provide a cleaner cut to your grass because of the scissoring motion the mower supports.
This makes the appearance of your lawn look cleaner and ultimately supports the growing of thick, healthy lawns because of the growth pattern that the clean cuts promote.
Since reel mowers are manual, they make little to no noise. This is great for those who live in close neighborhoods or subdivisions and don’t want to disturb the neighbors.
You can mow whenever you want without having to worry if it’s too early or too late. This is also important if you just want less noise pollution in general.
Unlike gas or electric mowers, reel mowers depend on manpower. They do not need to be charged like electric mowers, and you won’t need to use any fossil fuels and fill the gas and oil tanks as you would with a gas mower.
This leaves less room for electrical damage or the need for routine check ups or fixtures. Keep the blades clean and sharp, lubricate it, and you’re good.
Generally, reel mowers are more affordable than electric or gas mowers. This cost savings comes in a lower price, and lower maintenance costs.
They don’t require batteries or gas, which lowers the operation cost in the long run, and they’re usually very affordable up front.
Nevertheless, there are a bunch of reel mowers on the market to suit every budget, so if you want a high-end mower, you can still spend-up to get some bells and whistles.
How to Shop: Choosing the Best Reel Mower for Your Property
Like all things lawn care, not everything is suitable for every grass type. That’s why, it is important to make sure that all your products and equipment are compatible with your lawn.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the perfect reel mower for you.
The type of grass your lawn has will help you decide if a reel mower is right for you.
But when it comes to using a reel mower, it usually has more to do with the height of the grass rather than the type.
Turf height grass is ideal so that the blades won’t get tangled.
You will also want to keep in mind the thickness of your grass.
There are a variety of reel mowers to choose from with different blade sizes so if your grass is thicker you will want to opt for a mower with thicker and more durable blades.
Along the lines of the grass type, it is important to take note of the area you will be mowing.
If your lawn is flat and level, then there aren’t too many adjustments to be made.
But if your lawn is on a slope you will want to consider purchasing a reel mower that has an angle.
If you’re on a big hill or have a lumpy and uneven lawn with lots of obstacles, then you may want to choose a different type of mower – a self-propelled or push mower may be better.
Since these mowers are manual, they require a degree of strength and physical fitness to operate.
With that being said, there are a number of reel mowers on the market with different sizes and different weights, which can help you find a model that will work for you.
If you are smaller in size, then it is advisable to purchase a smaller mower.
5 Best Reel Mowers This Year (my picks)
Now that we have covered all our bases in terms of shopping for and choosing the best reel mower for your property, I’m going to share a list of my top picks for reel mowers.
I’ve grouped these mowers at different price ranges to suit every budget (under $100, $100 – $150, and over $150).
Let’s start with the most budget-friendly options.
Best Reel Mower Under $100
First we have the best reel mowers sitting at a price range of under $100. These are great for those looking for a great quality reel mower without breaking the bank.
This Earthwise push reel lawn mower is very affordable at well under $100, and it’s lightweight and easy to maneuver.
Some notable features are its T-style handle which allows for better control, as well as its lightweight construction sitting at just 19.5 pounds.
-Adjustable cutting height
|-Only ideal for smaller yards.|
American Lawn Mower company is a great manufacturer of reel mowers, and this model is no exception.
This reel mower features an 14-inch cutting width and is ideal for lawns with a grass length of up to 4 inches. This mower is also highly customizable as it also has an option to add a catcher for lawn clippings for less mess. You can also get a similar reel mower for a bit more money that is 18 inches wide.
-Easy to maneuver
-Different customization options
|-A bit heavier, weighing in at 27 pounds.|
Best Reel Mowers Under $150
Next up, we have reel mowers ranging between $100 and $150. These mowers are generally higher quality and made from more durable materials. If you’re looking to spend a little more for higher quality, there is something in this category for you.
This model from Great States is an 18-inch 5-blade push reel mower with an adjustable cutting height of 2.75″ all the way down to 1/2 an inch. I really like the blades on this mower which are made of a quality alloy steel and the handle cushion is comfortable and easy to grip.
For smaller users, this mower is lightweight for an 18″ reel mower, making it easy to maneuver and handle as you mow. I like the 18″ cutting deck for medium-sized yards and up, as it will save you some time mowing.
While the wheels are composite, the plastic seemed to be of high quality to me and I expect the wheels would hold up under regular use. The manufacturer claims that the steel blades will only need sharpening every 3-5 years, which is great.
|-High quality steel blades|
-10-inch ball-bearing wheels
-Nice height adjustment range
-18″ wide cutting path
|-Some complaints about uneven cut on grass|
Scotts is a prominent brand in the lawn care industry, and a name nearly everyone will recognize. Most of the broadcast and drop spreaders for fertilizer you see used in residential neighborhoods across the country are made by Scotts, and they manufacture a few different reel mowers as well. My favorite of their reel mowers is the 615-16S, a model with a 16-inch cutting path and better performance than some of their other models.
If you like a taller cut, this is a good choice for a reel mower. Its adjustable-height cutting deck provides a good clean cut on grass left 1.5″ to 2.75″. For most lawns you’ll want to stick with the highest setting here.
At just over 24 pounds it’s heavier than some of the other reel mowers you’ll find on the market, but it feels good in the hand and is not difficult to push across a level lawn, even for a smaller adult or a teenager. The blades are heat-treated alloy steel and high quality, and I like the clear window above the blades which keeps grass from flying up and onto your legs if you mow quickly.
-Adjustable cutting height
-Clear window to block grass clipping spray
|-A bit on the pricey side for 16″ width|
Best High End Reel Mower ($150 and Above)
Just like all pieces of equipment, there are items on the higher end of the spectrum for those really looking for an investment piece to last.
The Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower really lives up to its name with its sharp, precision blades to get the cleanest cut on any grass type.
This model is constructed from every aspect with the highest quality materials and features including InertiaDrive reel for the cleanest of cuts on all the toughest of places. Of every reel mower I’ve used, this is my favorite. I own a full set of Fiskars trimmers, pruners and loppers as well and love everything this brand makes.
|-InertiaDrive reel for easier manuevering|
-Suitable for lawn edging
|-Sits on the expensive side|
Final Thoughts About Investing in a Reel Mower
All in all, reel mowers are a great option for adamant lawn care enthusiasts looking for affordable, low maintenance solutions for their small, level lawns.
There are fantastic reel mower options no matter your budget, so don’t be intimidated about investing in one of the models I’ve mentioned above.
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