How To Choose The Best Reel Mower

Mowing the lawn makes the grass healthier and look better. But not all lawns need the same kind of mower. If you have a lot of property with grass, you probably need a ride-on lawn mower. For small lawns, a reel mower is the best option. It’s economical and good for the environment, too.

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Most reel mowers are manually operated; however, you can choose a powered option if you like. Choose the best reel mower by starting with the blades. You can choose from four to seven blades that are or aren’t covered in nonstick coating. Select a reel mower with the cutting height and swath width you need. Also, look for the extra features you’d like, such as a grass catcher, extra rollers, and comfortable handles.

There’s a level of nostalgia that comes along with a reel mower. They are great options for people with small yards who’d prefer something that needs little storage space, no fuel, is quiet, and cuts grass more efficiently. Keep reading to find out more about how to choose the best reel mowers and see some available options.

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Manual vs. Powered Reel Mowers

Manual reel mowers are the traditional versions you may remember from childhood. They are powered entirely by the user. There’s no need for gas, no cord to work around, and no noisy motor. 

The problem with manual reel mowers is they can’t cut down grass that’s overgrown, even the slightest bit. They’re also unable to cut grass that’s too thick. Don’t choose a manual reel mower unless you intend to mow frequently.

Powered reel mowers run using gas or a battery. They’re better at cutting through thicker and taller grass. They also come in self-propelled options. Gas-powered reel mowers are noisy just like traditional mowers. You can get an electric reel mower if you want power with less noise. 

The Importance Of Blades

More blades are better for denser grass. Typically, you’ll choose between four to seven blades. The average reel mower has five blades. The more blades you have, the cleaner the cut will be, though. 

It helps if they have the nonstick coating, so you don’t have to put a lot of effort into cleaning off the blades while you’re mowing. It keeps grass from clumping up all over the blades.

Cutting Height And Swath Width

The cutting height is not always adjustable on reel mowers. Some are set to a standard of 1.5 to 2 inches. That’s fine if you have grasses that don’t grow tall. Certain varieties grow taller than others. 

Grasses like fescue are known for growing taller quicker. You’ll need to get a reel mower with an adjustable cutting height if you have taller varieties of grass. 

You’ll also need to consider your grass type for choosing the swath width of a reel mower. The swath width is the width of the cutting path. It’s what determines how many passes you must make to cut the entire lawn. 

Swath width on reel mowers is usually between 14 and 20 inches. Denser grass is harder to push a reel mower through. Choose a smaller swath width for grasses, such as Bermuda and zoysia. Grasses like fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are easy to cut, so a wider swath is ideal.

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Extra Features

Reel mowers are basic in their designs. You can still choose from some nice extra features, though. 

A grass catcher is a good option to help things look tidier. It works just like the ones on traditional lawn mowers. It’s attached to the back of the mower and catches grass as it’s kicked up. You then empty the clippings into a garbage can.

A reel lawn mower has two wheels at the front or sides of the blade housing. You can opt for a design with additional wheels at the back or more in another position that will help the reel lawn mower roll more easily. You’ll get better stability and maneuverability.

You can also opt for upgraded handles. Some are padded for better comfort. They help with better grip and reduce the risk of blisters.

Best Reel Mower Options

 

Great States 415-16 16-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower ( See Customer Reviews & Pricing)

 

This reel lawn mower has five blades and is completely manual. It has a 16-inch swath width with 10-inch wheels, so it’s easy to maneuver through most types of grass. The mower has a t-grip handlebar with pads for comfort. The blades are made of alloy steel. They’re heat-treated so they stay sharp for longer. 

Pros:

  • Affordably priced
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Leaves lawn looking beautiful
  • Doesn’t throw grass up into the air

Cons:

  • Does not cut tall grass or weeds
  • Requires a lot of push down from user because it’s so light
  • There is a learning curve
  • Cuts only forward

 

American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14 14-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower ( See Customer Reviews & Pricing)

 

This American Lawn Mower is manually powered with 5 blades for cutting grass that’s up to 4 inches tall. It has a 14-inch swath width with 8.5-inch wheels positioned at each end. The blades are made of alloy steel with heat treatment, so they stay sharp. The blade height is adjustable between 1 and 1.75 inches.

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Padded handle grips
  • Cuts grass beautifully
  • No gas or loud motor necessary

Cons:

  • Sticks stop the blades
  • Won’t cut crabgrass
  • Handles bend under a lot of pressure
  • Heavy

 

Great States 304-14 14-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower ( See Customer Reviews & Pricing)

 

This reel lawn mower has 8.5-inch rubber tires that roll easily over the ground. The 5 blades are made of alloy steel treated with heat to stay sharp. No tools are needed to assemble the mower. It’s easy to put it together, as well as use it. It has a t-style handlebar with padded grips. The cutting height is adjustable from .5 to 1.75 inches. 

Pros:

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Cuts grass precisely
  • Adjustable cut height
  • No tools for assembly
  • Enamel coating prevents rust

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Handle grips slide sometimes
  • Won’t cut anything long

 

American Lawn Mower Company 1815-18 18-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower ( See Customer Reviews & Pricing)

 

This reel lawn mower by American Lawn Mower Company is the most expensive one on our list. It has 5 blades made of steel that only need to be sharpened every 3 to 5 years. It has an 18-inch swath width with 10-inch wheels. The cutting height is adjustable between 1 and 2.75 inches. This one has a loop handle. It is easy to maneuver through thicker grass with a wide grip.

Pros:

  • Wide swath for less paths
  • Adjustable cutting height
  • Produces a good close cut
  • Very quiet
  • Loop bar allows for a wide grip

Cons:

  • Assembly instructions aren’t the best
  • Heavy
  • Can’t cut crabgrass or any tall weeds

Remember, when you’re looking for the best reel lawn mower, you need to look specifically for your needs. The best one for you may not be the best one for your neighbor. Match your choice to your needs.

Wrap Up

A reel lawn mower is good for you and the planet in several ways. It requires a little more effort on your part, but it’s good exercise. There’s no fuel needed if you go with a manual model. You’ll save money and you won’t have to smell those awful gas fumes or fight with a cord. Choose one with the right number of blades, the best cutting height, and the right swath width for your lawn. Then, look for those bonus features you’d like, and you’ll be on your way to having a beautifully manicured lawn in no time.

FAQs:

What is the best reel mower to buy?

Great States makes some of the best reel mowers on the market. They’re made of high-quality materials, priced affordably, and have several size options.

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Do reel mowers cut better?

The best reel mowers cut better than other types of mowers because they leave the grass with a clean scissor-like cut rather than torn grass. Keep the blades sharp and well-maintained to keep getting that nice, clean cut.

Which brand of mower is the best?

Great States is one of the best reel mower brands. Others worth mentioning include Scotts Outdoor Power Tools, Fiskars StaySharp Max, and American Lawn Mower Company.

Are reel mowers dangerous?

Reel mowers are the safest of all lawn mowers. 75,000 Americans suffer injuries from lawn mowing each year. The majority of those involve powered mowers.

How often should you mow with a reel mower?

Even the best reel mowers aren’t good at getting through tall, thick grass. You’ll want to mow a few times a week during heavy growth seasons. Then, you can probably cut it back to twice a week.

Can you mow wet grass with a reel mower?

You can mow wet grass with a reel mower, but it will be tough. It takes longer and requires more effort. 

Why are reel mowers better?

Reel mowers are better for the environment. They’re eco-friendly, quiet, and save money. They also cut the grass more efficiently causing less damage to grass blades.

Is it hard to push a reel mower?

It can be difficult. Reel mowers don’t go through thick or tall grass easily. They also get stuck on any sticks or other hard objects in the lawn. 

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How do you sharpen an old reel mower?

You should buy a blade sharpening kit. You’ll put a sharpening compound on the blades. Then take the wheel off. With the wheel off, you’ll attach a hand crank to the exposed shaft. Turn the crank in a counterclockwise direction. Keep turning for about 10 minutes. Check the blades to see if they look shiny. Remove any excess compound you see. Replace the wheel and you’re done.

What are the top 5 riding lawn mowers?

  • Cub Cadet XT1 LT 42”
  • Troy-Bilt Pony 42”
  • Cub Cadet ZT1 50”
  • John Deer E180 54”
  • Ryobi 38-Inch Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

 

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Last Updated on July 15, 2021 by Marie Miguel

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