10 Best Reel Mower 2020

American Lawn Mower Company 1815-18

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best value
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  • Cutting Width: 18-Inch
  • Number of Blades: 5
  • Cutting Height: 0.5-2.75 inches
  • Weight: 12kg (27lbs)

Fiskars StaySharp Max

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best choice
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  • Weight: 4.6lb
  • Spool Type: Semi auto
  • Warranty: 2-5 years
  • Power Type: Corded

American Lawn Mower Company 1204-14

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premium pick
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  • Weight: 5.7lb
  • Spool Type: Single line
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Power Type: Battery

Best Reel Mower

By Ben Wilson

Published 9 months ago

The Looking for a lawn mower that doesn’t need electricity or gas? Literally a lawn mower that doesn’t cost the earth. Then a reel mower (also known as a rotary mower) is a great investment.

Not only are reel mowers lightweight and easy to use, but they also require very little maintenance, compared to electric or gas-powered lawn mowers. They also do a great job cutting grass precisely and are particularly great for people with small to medium-sized yards. Rotary blades also promote a healthy lawn, as they don’t leave any nasty chemical residue.

Reel mowers are synonymous with the image of the American Dream as they were used by everyone before the gas and electric models were invented. However, thanks to an increased interest in the environment, reel mowers are becoming increasingly popular. This has led to better design, making new reel mowers easier to push, operate, and simpler to store away.

Electric or gas lawn mowers can be difficult to use. They are noisy, the vibrations can make your arms go numb, the pull cord can be stiff and the smell can be off-putting. Reel mowers only cut when they are being pushed forward, which is safer and much easier. What’s more, your reel mower won’t cut/ throw sticks or stones or make any noise (above a whisper).

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Table of Contents

Overview

American Lawn Mower Company 1815-18

Best for – Those with limited storage space, cutting small to medium lawns.

The American Lawn Mower Company are arguably the best reel mower manufacturers on the planet today. They have been making high-quality rotary mowers for the past 120 years, and do a darn good job of it. The American Lawn Mower Company 1815-18 comes with 10-inch wheels that keep the mower steady, even over rougher ground. When it comes to adjustability and precision, the American Lawn Mower Company 1815-18 is perfect.

The cutting height can be adjusted from 0.5-2.75 inches so that you can get the perfect cut. Creating that ideal striped lawn we all yearn for  (the big league look). The American Lawn Mower Company 1815-18 is lightweight, at just 27 lbs and can be put together in 10 minutes. This machine is ideal for people who are limited on space to store their mower. 

Pros

  • Easily assembled
  • Lightweight
  • 5 solid cutting blades
  • 18” cutting width
  • Adjustable height

 Cons

  • Can cut unevenly
  • Wheels prevent edge cutting

Pro Tip: Because this mower isn’t ideal for edges, you might want to use a weed eater to tidy up and edging.

Cutting Width: 18-Inch

Number of Blades: 5

Cutting Height: 0.5-2.75 inches

Weight: 12kg (27lbs)

Fiskars StaySharp Max

Best for – Easy to use on all grass types, smooth manoeuvring

If you’re looking for a mower that is optimised for ease of use then look no further than the Fiskars StaySharp Max. The signature InertiaDrive reel has been designed so that it can easily cut through all grass types. Featuring a large diameter cutting reel and thick blades. One of the great features of the Fiskars StaySharp Max is that you can direct the grass clippings either towards or away from your feet, with the reversible grass chute. 

The cutting height can be adjusted from 1-4 inches for precision cutting. The Fiskars StaySharp Max has fixed one of the major concerns of reel mowers – you can use it in tight areas and on edges. Thanks to the handy inset wheel design. Overall, the design of this mower is magnificent, they’ve thought about everything to make life easier. Including the chain-drive design that makes it up to 60% easier to push. This mower is versatile, you can adjust the handle, clippings chute and cutting height for maximum flexibility.

Pros

  • 3 Year warranty
  • Adjustable cutting height
  • Inset wheels for edges
  • Ergonomic
  • Sturdy
  • Well designed
  • InertiadDrive Technology

Cons

  • Heavier machine

Cutting Width: 18-Inch

Number of Blades: 5

Cutting Height: 1-4inches

Weight: 23.5kg (51.8lbs)

American Lawn Mower Company 1204-14

Best for – Lightweight reel mower – perfect for beginners manoeuvring

If the weight of your new reel mower is of high importance, then the American 1204-14 might be a great option. The machine is just 9.1kg (20lb) which is one of the lightest reel mowers on the market today. The weight and size of this mower make it a perfect mower for those who are frail, while also allowing easy storage. 

The wheels are 8.5 inches and the cutting height is adjustable – you get to choose from 0.5inches to 1.75 inches. This machine is straightforward, cost-effective and easy for anyone to use. This eco-friendly reel mower is good on the wallet as well as easy on your back. Plus, there is no assembly required. Perfect beginners reel mower. 

Pros

  • Ergonomic handle
  • No Assembly
  • 8.5-inch wheels
  • Sturdy design
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Cost-effective

Cons

  • 4 blades
  • Can clog up

Cutting Width: 14-Inch

Number of Blades: 4

Cutting Height: 0.5-1.75 inches

Weight: 9.1kg  (20lb)

Great States 415-16

Best for – Super lightweight reel mower, pressure treated and rust-resistant for occasional use.

Although the Great States 415-16 is treated so that it’s rust-resistant, I’d always advise you to wash and dry your reel mower after use. The fact that its rust-resistant gives peace of mind. Great States is another brand that is owned by the American Lawn Mower Company. So you’ll be investing in a machine that is tried and tested the world over, by a brand that is over a century old. 

The Great States 415-16 comes with sturdy 10-inch wheels, and the handles are cushioned and easy to use. Once you take your reel mower out of the box, you’ll be up and running in minutes. The Great States 415-16 can be assembled quickly, without the use of tools. This machine is ten times lighter than many of the reel mowers on this list. It also requires very little maintenance as the steel blades are heat-treated so that they will keep cutting accurately for longer. However, I would state that this mower is more suited for lighter use. 

Pros 

  • Easy assembly. 
  • Affordable
  • Safety side plate
  • Adjustable cutting height
  • Super-lightweight

Cons

  • Parts are weak

Cutting Width: 16-Inch

Number of Blades: 5

Cutting Height: 0.5- 2.25 inches

Weight: 998kg  (2.2lb)

Scotts Classic Outdoor Power Tools 2000-20S

Best for – Heavier mowing, that requires manual labor

If you’re looking to cut large swaths of grass, then the Scotts Classic 20” reel mower is well worth a look. The widest cutting area of any mower that we’ve reviewed thus far – ideal for medium-sized lawns. The cutting height is easily adjusted with the handy quick snap feature, which allows you to choose from 9 preset cutting heights. With this mower being wider, it may not be suitable for gardens that are extremely small. 

The Scotts Classic 20S is a big sturdy machine that requires more manpower than some of the other mowers on this list. However, it does cut wide areas exceptionally well and is great for slightly larger jobs. 

Pros 

  • Dual tracking wheels
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Quick snap height adjustment
  • Rigid handles
  • 20-inch cutting width
  • Doesn’t cut 0.5” heights

Cons 

  • Heavier machine

Cutting Width: 20-Inch

Number of Blades: 5

Cutting Height: 1-3 inches

Weight: 15kg  (34lb)

Greenworks 25072

Best for – Cost-effective reel mower with larger 20” cutting area with grass clippings storage

The Greenworks 25072 is another wide machine, ideal for cutting larger swaths of grass. Which makes it easier to cut medium lawns quickly. The best thing about the Greenworks 25072 is the fact that it has a built-in catcher for clippings. It also mulches the grass to allow for additional storage. Making it easier to use, as you don’t need to rake the grass afterward. The wheels are 10 inches in diameter at the front and there are smaller 6-inch wheels behind. Which makes the Greenworks 25072 easy to move around. 

The Greenworks 25072  is a slightly heavier model – so if you don’t mind pushing the extra weight, then it’s a great machine. In saying that, it’s light enough for a stronger child to push. You can also invest in a 4 year extended warranty, for peace of mind. The Greenworks 25072 is easy to assemble, clean and easily maneuverable.

 Pros

  • 20” cutting path
  • Contact-free blades
  • 2 in 1 rear bag
  • Easy to maneuver

Cons

  • Heavier machine
  • Makes some noise

Cutting Width: 20-Inch

Number of Blades: 5

Cutting Height: 1.75-2.75 inches

Weight: 14.4kg  (31.8lb)

Earthwise 1715-16EW

Best for – Bent or thicker grass, having 7 blades for precision cutting

The Earthwise 1715-16EW has 7 blades, that can be adjusted between 0.5 and 2.5 inches. Making it easy to get the perfect cut for your lawn. You could cut at a higher blade height and then finish off with the 0.5-inch setting – for perfection! The Earthwise 1715-16EW is great for cutting bent grass like – Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede, St Augustine, and Seashore paspalum. Earthwise is another brand owned by the American Lawn Mower Company. 

The 7 blades and adjustable cutting height make the Earthwise 1715-16EW, one of the best reel mowers for creating the perfect lawn. Great for thicker grass, providing a nice clean finish. This mower is perfect, but it might need some adjustment when it comes out of the box. 

Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • 7 Blades
  • Adjustable cutting height
  • Great for bent grass
  • Cuts through thick grass.

Cons 

  • Might need adjusting

Cutting Width: 16-inch

Number of Blades: 7

Cutting Height: 0.5 – 2.5 inches

Weight: 11kg  (26lb)

Remington RM3100

Best for- Smaller patches of grass and saving time raking as an integrated grass catcher.

The Remington RM3100 has an 18-inch cutting width, which is great for accessing narrower, hard to reach areas. This machine is lightweight and easy to push as it has large dual wheels – 10 inches and 6 inches in diameter. The handles can also be adjusted via dual levers, so that you can find the right height that suits you. A very economical manual push mower.

Easy to use, no fuel required and comes with an integrated grass catcher, which saves time on raking the grass afterward. Bear in mind that the fine clippings from grass can actually help feed the grass, so the catcher is only required for aesthetics.

Pros 

  • Adjustable height 
  • Quiet machine
  • Padded handle
  • Ergonomic design
  • Durable
  • Integrated grass catcher

Cons 

  • Grass catcher falls off easily

Cutting Width: 18-Inch

Number of Blades: 5

Cutting Height: 0.75-2.5-inches

Weight: 5.9kg  (13lb)

Great States 304-14

Best for – Robust, yet lightweight reel mower.

If you’re looking for a narrow reel mower, then the Great States 304-14 is a great option. You’ll be up and running within a few minutes, with the easy, tool-free assembly unit. The T-shaped handles are really easy to use, making mowing your lawn a breeze. The Great States 304-14 is manufactured by the best in the industry (the American Lawn Mower Company) and is a robust, yet lightweight machine. 

Because the Great States 304-14 is so lightweight, you’ll have energy left for other things once you’ve mowed the lawn. Perfect for lawns up to 2000 sq ft, however, it does take a bit of effort, being a manual mower. This mower gives your grass a tidy looking haircut. Expect it to take around 20 minutes to set up your machine. But once constructed, you’ll have a trusty tool to make your grass pristine.

Pros 

  • Cushioned handles
  • Robust
  • Enamel finish
  • Lightweight
  • Quiet

Cons 

  • No clippings catcher

Cutting Width: 14-Inch

Number of Blades: 5

Cutting Height: 0.5-1.75 inches

Weight: 997g  (2.2lb)

Sun Joe MJ501M

Best for – Affordable, lightweight reel mower with large 7-gallon grass catcher

The Sun Joe MJ501M is a great little compact machine that is easy to use and comfortable on your hands. Perfect for the small to the medium yard, the Sun Joe MJ501M provides a nice finish. An affordable reel mower that does the job quickly, and can be stored away with ease. The grass gatherer is massive at 7 gallons, which means that you can get lots of your grass cut, without having to stop to empty the grass gatherer. Also, you don’t have to rake your grass, which saves you another job.

A fantastic eco-friendly solution to mow your lawn in a more healthy way. The Sun Joe MJ501M is a great entry-level reel mower, that is easy for just about anyone to use. Lightweight enough for a child to use. It’s easy to adjust the cutting height, which can be done if you are finding it hard to cut through slightly taller grass. 

Pros

  • Grass gatherer
  • Quiet
  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to assemble
  • Adjustable cutting height

Cons 

  • Doesn’t catch all grass

Cutting Width: 18-Inch

Number of Blades: 5

Cutting Height: 1.63 – 2.63 inches

Weight: 9.97kg  (22lb)

When choosing the perfect reel mower, then you’ll first want to make sure that you can push your mower with ease. Additionally, some reel mowers are lightweight but not suitable for thicker grass. Think about the type of grass that you have. These are the 5 main things to look out for when selecting your reel mower:

  1. Cushioned Grip
  2. Weight of machine
  3. Blade Size/ cutting width
  4. Number of Blades
  5. Warranty
  6. Wheel Size

Pro Tip: More blades makes it easier to cut lawns with thicker grass

Way back in the 17th century, people used to employ helpers to cut their lawn with scissors. That was an exhausting and time-consuming process. Thankfully the reel mower was invented in 1830 by Edwin Beard Budding from Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, UK. Reel mowers took off in both America and the UK, becoming an iconic symbol of the American dream. Electric mowers were developed in the 1930s and caught on the world over, throwing the reel mowers out of favor. 

That was until we began to learn about finite resources, like oil. Environmental and health awareness has since brought the basic push mower back into favor. Reel mowers are push mowers that have no engine. They cut the grass thanks to 3-7 rotating blades that turn with the wheels. A reel mower is quiet and good for the environment as it doesn’t use or emit fumes and is now becoming an increasingly popular alternative to electric mowers.

Historically electric weed eaters have been less powerful when compared to their petrol counterparts. However, more recently, manufacturers have been creating tools like the DEWALT DCST920P1 – that are powerful enough to cut back large foliage.

Reel mowers are ideally suited to keeping a well-maintained lawn in check. Tall grass can clog up the blades. A reel mower can trim grass that is under 4 inches perfectly. However, there are a few things that you can do to cut tall grass with your reel mower. If needs must. 

If you need to use your reel mower to cut tall grass then there are a few things you can do. Use a sizable overlap, meaning, when you track back over your lawn, then overlap your path by several inches. 

Alternatively, you can mow each row of lawn twice. One to trim back tall grass (at a higher cutting height of up to 2.75 inches), and the second to finely trim and even out the grass (using a smaller cutting height eg. 0.5-1 inch). The final method is creating a checkerboard pattern by mowing each section once in one direction (say west to east) and then again across your path (north to south). 

Pro Tip: Make sure to rake your lawn before you mow it. That way you can remove any debris, like twigs or toys from your lawn – which can get caught up in a reel mowers blades.

Did you know that gas mowers can emit 10 times the amount of toxic hydrocarbon byproducts as a car can in an hour of use? And a reel mower produces zero emissions. What’s more reel mowers are virtually silent, when compared to their noisier electrical cousins. So they are certainly more effective when it comes to the environment, health and maintenance. But how do they weigh in when it comes to cutting the grass well?

Some professionals praise reel mowers for preserving the properties of your grass. 

The motion is more natural, and it doesn’t damage grass the same way that rotary motors do. Reel mowers allow your grass to retain moisture, which preserves the quality of your grass and the surrounding environment. The fine clippings from a reel mower also provide nutrition for your grass. Some reel mowers come with a bag that stores clippings. Reel mowers are also lightweight, easy to push and simple to store as they are compact. Reel mowers are also affordable, they don’t cost much to purchase, run or maintain. 

PRO TIP: Reel mowers are best suited for small to medium-sized gardens. Gardens that are larger than 900 square meters will take too long with a reel mower, and require a sit-on mower or a zero-turn mower. 

Reel mowers are great. They don’t require any fuel or tricky maintenance. But, one thing they do need is sharpening once or twice a year. It’s actually really easy to sharpen the blades on your reel mower, and even align the blades in about 30 mins. The quickest and easiest method is purchasing a back lapping sharpening kit. 

Sharpening and aligning your reel mower blades is the only maintenance required. Which is way easier than maintaining an electric mower. We’ve created a full guide so that you can follow a simple step by step process to get your reel mower trimming grass smoothly every time.

Pro Tip: Organize your sharpening kit ahead of time, so that you’re prepared when the time comes.

Despite the name “Scotts Reel Mower,” a “Scotts” reel mower is not in fact, a Scottish reel mower. It is simply a brand of reel mower. 

I know, disappointing, right? 

In reality, an American Reel Mower is simply a rotary lawnmower, invented in England UK and made popular in America. However, there is also another brand of lawn mower called an “American.” Confusing right?

Frequently asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Reel Mowers any Good? Are they Better?

 

Reel mowers, rotary mowers or push mowers are brilliant. They are actually better for the health of your lawn. They’re great for the environment, easy on your back, easy on your wallet and best of all, they make your lawn look neater. Today’s reel mowers are lightweight and easy to maneuver. 

The only time that I’d suggest investing in a sit-on mower, gas or electric would be on lawns larger than 900 meters squared. 

The answer to what is better, a reel mower or a rotary mower comes down to what you want to use your mower for. If you have lower mowing heights (under an inch) then reel mowers are normally better. However, you need to check the cutting height of each mower to decide what will suit your requirements. Reel mowers are also best suited for grass that isn’t overgrown. You’d ideally use a reel mower for maintaining your lawn.

Adjusting and sharpening your reel mower is really easy. To adjust your mower all you need to do is gently turn the screw on the wheel. You’ll find a detailed description on how to adjust your reel mower and also how to sharpen your blades over on our step-by-step guide.

If you keep your grass trim, by mowing your lawn once or twice a week – then a reel mower is perfect. However, if you let your grass get overgrown, a reel mower can struggle. When used correctly, the reel mower does cut the grass with a more natural finish. Additionally, it is better for your lawn and the environment to use a reel mower.

In Conclusion

Real mowers need a bit of elbow grease and mowing your lawn can take a bit of effort. But if you’re looking for a new lawnmower, then reel mowers are a great eco-friendly solution. They are also great for your lawn. Make sure to check the number of blades, weight and also the design, to make sure that it suits your individual needs. 

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