Best Reel Mower

Fiskars-Staysharp-Max-Reel-Mower-best-reel-mower

This guide will help you find the best reel mower for your lawn. You may think reel mowers are a thing of the past; a long forgotten piece of history buried by advances in technology. If this is what you think then you have  underestimated the mighty reel mower, which even today has its advantages over the more modern types of lawn mower.

Simple Design, Clean Cut

​Reel mowers feature a number of blades set in a cylinder, with a wheel and a handle. A relatively simple design, the user provides all of the horse power, and as you push the mower the blades will spin, cutting the grass. The blades are designed so that the cut is clean, like scissors, where other rotary blade lawn mowers rip and tear at your grass. The quality of the cut which results is one of the main reasons why some gardeners still prefer reel mowers today.

No Noise or Pollution

​Other reasons for loving the classic push reel lawn mower include the lack of noise and air pollution that it gives off. The reel mower is the ultimate in environmentally friendly mowing, and requires no running costs from gas or electricity.

​However if you want to combine the clean cut of a reel mower with the power of a gas powered mower to go through rougher terrain, you can also go for the McLane 20-5.5 GT-7. This mower cuts through all grasses and twigs and will make it easier to go uphill.

Which Reel Mower Is The Best For You?

The truth is there is no single best reel mower out there.

Every model mentioned here has its own specifications, flaws, and shining grace, and a lot will depend on your own requirements. As well as reading our reel lawn mower reviews, be sure to check out the Factors to Consider When Buying section on this page. We have provided a complete resource here for you, containing everything you need to know to buy the best reel mower for your lawn.

Reel Mowers Top 10 Comparison Chart

ImageModelNr of BladesCutting Height (Inches)Cutting Width
(Inches)
RatingsPrice
Scotts 2000-20 20Inch classic reviewScott's 2000­-20
20­Inch Classic
51 - 3204.5 out of 5 starsView
GreenWorks-25072-20-Inch-With-Grasscatcher-100Greenworks 25072 20­Inch 5-­Blade With Grasscatcher51 - 2.75203.7 out of 5 starsView
Fiskars 6201 18-Inch StaySharpFriskar's 6201 18­Inch StaySharpUnique1 - 4184.1 out of 5 starsView
Greenworks-25062 18­Inch with GrasscatcherGreenworks 25062 18­Inch Reel Mower
With Grasscatcher
51 - 2.75183.7 out of 5 starsView
Sun-Joe-Mow-Joe-MJ500M-16­Inch-With-CatcherSun Joe Mow Joe MJ500M 16­Inch Reel Mower With Catcher4Up to 18 inches163.4 out of 5 starsView
American Lawn Mower 1705-16Lawn Mower-American Lawn Mower 1705-­16 16­-Inch Bent Reel Mower70.5 - 2.25164.2 out of 5 starsView
McLane 20­5.5 GT-7 20-InchMcLane 20­-5.5 GT­-7-20­-Inch Gross Torque Briggs and Stratton
Gas Powered
70.5 upwards203.3 out of 5 starsView
Great States 415 16­InchGreat States 415 16­Inch40.5 - 2.75164.5 out of 5 starsView
Gardena 4025-U 15-Inch 25Volt 3.2amp Lithium­Ion Cordless Push Reel MowerGardena 4025­-U 15-Inch 25­-Volt 3.2amp Lithium­Ion Cordless Push Reel Mower1 - 3153.7 out of 5 starsView
Great States 204 14­InchGreat States 204 14­Inch3 spider, 1 blade0.5 - 1.5144.3 out of 5 starsView

Factors To Consider When Buying

Before you decide whether or not to purchase a new reel mower for your lawn, there are a few considerations for you to make. A reel mower, however desirable it might be to you, may not be the best choice for your particular situation. Learning a little bit about these mowers can help you to know for sure whether you should make the purchase.

bumpy lawn reel mower

Is Your Lawn Flat?

Trying to mow a bumpy surface with a reel mower is like trying to break down a concrete wall with your head; it is not a very pleasant endeavor. If your lawn is sloped but is mostly even and flat on the surface, then this is not a problem even for a push reel mower, but as soon as you add a bumpy terrain into the equation the mower blades jam on the uneven terrain. The reel mower just doesn't like bumps.

Size Of Lawn

The size of your lawn will be of utmost importance when you are deciding on the type of lawnmower you will purchase. A reel mower is more well suited to a humble lawn, small to medium in size. A push reel lawn mower is a no go for large areas, and even the powered reel mower is better adapted to medium lawns at best. Would you really want to push the reel mower around a lawn any larger than an acre? You can if you want to, but we would rather not!

Type Of Grass

Some reel mowers are not particularly effective when it comes to tougher types of grass. Light reel mowers are great for use on light grass, where a heavier model is required to tackle tougher grasses such as St. Augustine, Zoysia, or Bermuda. The general rule then, is that a tougher grass requires a heavier reel mower. If you have a tough lawn and do not want to push around a heavy reel mower, then you may require a different type of mower, like an electric or gas push mower.

The type of grass you have in your yard will also dictate how many blades is best to have on your reel mower. A 5 blade reel mower is better for fine grass, while the 7 blade reel mower is more suitable for heavier bent grasses. If you have sandy soil then it is best not to bother at all with the reel mower; the blades will simply sink into the terrain.

Weight

As mentioned above, the weight of your reel mower will be intimately related to the type of grass that you have. If you think you will struggle to to push around a heavy mower, then choose the lightest model possible for your lawn. Although heavier mowers will be able to tackle tougher grass, light mowers have the advantage of being easier to push, easier to maneuver, and easier to pick up and store.

greenworks grass catcher

Grass Catcher?

Many reel mowers do not come with a grass catcher. If this is a problem for you, but you still want a reel mower over other types, then your search will become significantly narrower. The Greenworks models include a grass catcher. The fresh grass clippings actually work to add rich nutrients to help to fertilize your lawn if they are left uncollected, so this is not technically a problem, unless you are concerned with keeping your yard tidy, and free of clippings.

Edging

The bulky wheels of the reel mowers can make edging very difficult. Some models are designed to overcome this problem, such as the Fiskar's 6201 18-Inch Staysharp.

Price

Price is always a consideration when making a purchase. Rather handily, reel mowers- the mowers which are notorious for their high quality cut- are rather cheap to purchase, and the push reel lawn mower is of course free to run. You can pick up a high quality reel mower, with a basic design, for around $80-$140. More expensive reel mowers may not necessarily be better, but may have added features or specific design tailors. Powered reel mowers are generally much more expensive.

When to buy

  • Small yards.
  • Short grasses.
  • When you want to pollute less, less noise, less costs.
  • When you want a high quality finish that only a reel mower can produce.
  • When you have mostly flat terrain, free of bumps.

When not to buy

  • Large yards.
  • Particularly tough or long grasses.
  • Bumpy or sloped surfaces.

Types Of Reel Mower

The reel mower is the classic lawn mower design, but that does not mean that it hasn't been treated to some upgrades in its long history. The reel mowers of the 21st century are as well made as those in the early days, providing the same quality cut with the design of the scissor-like blades. Now you can also get them with motors too; there is the gas powered reel mower, electric reel mower, and even the riding reel mower, to go along with the original manual reel mower.

Gas, Electric, Or Manual Reel Mowers?

The only relevant difference between the manual reel mower, and the other designs which feature motors, is that they will be easier to push. They all feature the same blade design, and give about the same quality of cut. All you have to ask yourself is whether you think the ease of use outweighs the added weight, cost, maintenance, and pollution that a motor brings to the lawn mower.

For the enthusiast, the idea of a gas or electric powered reel mower is nothing short of sacrilege. Some of the major perks of the reel mower come from the fact that it doesn't require any power source, and that it is simple in its design. Adding the complex and costly motors take something away from that philosophy, and it does beg the question; why not just get a self propelled or push mower?

However, if you are looking for the reel mower experience and quality, without the need to push a heavy reel mower around, then the electric and gas powered reel lawn mowers could well be for you.

5 blade versus 7 blade

Image by caltrimmer.com

5­-Blade Vs 7-­Blade Reel Mowers

Reel mowers come with multiple blades, which work together to make the highly coherent cut that only a reel can make. Most reel mowers come designed with either 5 blades or 7 blades. The five blade design is better suited to cutting fine, thin, upright grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, or Fescue. The seven blade design is more aptly suited for heavier, bent grasses like Bermuda or St. Augustine.

Width

Reel mowers come in different shapes and sizes, and one dimension that may affect your decision is the width of the mower. The wider the reel mower the more grass it will cut as you mow with it. So a 20-inch mower will make a 20-inch wide cut as you push it, while a 16-inch mower will make a less wide cut. This is balanced against weight issues, with smaller reel mowers tending to be lighter and easier to maneuver.

Reel Mower Sharpening

Reel Mower Sharpening

The reel mower, being a relatively simple design with few parts to go wrong, needs little maintenance. The blades are enduring, and if you do not abuse your reel mower it is likely that it will last for several years without the need for any major amount of work.

Most of the time when your reel mower is not cutting very well, the blades will simply need aligning and adjusting. You can check how to do this for each individual mower, and a quick look at the instructions for your model will tell you how. Adjusting the mower means bringing the reel into alignment inside the mower body, so that it sits properly with the bedknife. Nine out of ten times that your reel mower is not functioning properly an adjustment is all that will be needed.

Every now and then you might need to sharpen the reel mower blades. The blades of the reel mower and not particularly sharp even when you first buy one. Generally the blades are flat edge, and are not like the blade of a knife. You will only know to sharpen the blades of the reel mower if they become less effective at cutting grass, if the mower begins to leave streaks, or if the cutting unit becomes more noisy than it should be.

Keeping your reel mower well adjusted and keeping the blades sharp, will improve your experience with your mower.

It will:

  • Optimize the performance of the reel mower.
  • Extend the life of the mower.
  • Promote the healthy growth of your grass.
  • Provide and excellent finish when you mow the lawn.

How To Sharpen A Reel Mower

Luckily, reel mower sharpening is not as daunting as it sounds, even for those who have never approached the task before. Nearly all models of reel mower have a sharpening kit available. This kit is usually cheap and easy to buy. It will come with everything you need to sharpen your reel mower, and clear instructions on how to do it, tailored towards the model that you own. To start you off, here is a quick guide to sharpen reel mower blades. The example applies to most American Mower and Great States models:

  • Take off the handle and the side cover to reveal the ring that holds the wheel in place.
  • Take off the ring, and remove the wheel.
  • Take the gear off from inside the wheel; it should slip right off.
  • Slide the crank that was included in your sharpening kit onto the piece of metal where the gear was.
  • Take the paintbrush and sharpening compound out of the sharpening kit, and apply the compound evenly onto all of the blades.
  • Turn the blades backwards using the crank. This is known as the “backlapping method” and the backward turning will sharpen the blades.
  • Keep cranking until you are satisfied that your blades are sharp and ready.
  • Put the reel mower back together.

Reel Mower Reviews

Scotts 2000­-20 20-­Inch

best reel mower

The Scotts 2000-20 is a good all round reel mower. Its dual wheel design gives it a maneuverability that makes this mower very easy to push, even on tough terrain. The easy height adjustment allows you to select the grass height with an accuracy that the naked eye would struggle to distinguish. Its design allows it to mow through even tough grasses, and the high treated blades maintain a perfect cut, and barely any need for maintenance. If you are not convinced then the two year warranty might give you faith. The Scotts has very few downsides, but if we had to pick one, it would be the edging, which leaves something to be desired. The mower also struggles with twigs, but then again so do most reel mowers.

A sturdy first choice for a push mower suitable for most situations.

Greenworks 25072 20-­Inch Five Blade With Grass Catcher

GreenWorks 25072 20-Inch 5-Blade With Grasscatcher

The Greenworks 25072 features a wide blade, adjustable cutting heights making it suitable for most grass types, and a funky wheel design which does help to improve the maneuverability of the reel mower. The major features of the mower is the grasscatcher, which most reel mowers distinctively lack. The mower catches and mulches the grass at the rear.

If you want a safe bet then the Greenworks 25072 might be your mower; it comes with a whopping 4 year warranty; double the industry standard. That is reel peace of mind. (Excuse my pun.)

The grasscatcher and extended warranty of 4 years make this an alluring offer

Friskar's 6201 18­Inch StaySharp

Fiskars 6201 18-Inch StaySharp

The Friskar's 6201 18-Inch StaySharp really is a beast of a reel mower. It is not your standard design, and it is not your standard mower. For that reason you can expect to pay full price, and this mower is twice as expensive as the others mentioned so far.

So what do you get when you fork out this extra dosh? Well, you get a patent-pending design that no other brand can offer; InertiaDrive technology which gives twice as much power as other reel mowers. You get 60% more maneuverability, and award-winning ergonomics. You get StaySharp blades which will last for years without the need to be sharpened. You get a reel mower that pulls out all the stops.

A pricey but power­packing reel mower. If you want to splash out on something a little special, then this mower could be the one for you.

Greenworks 25062 18­Inch Reel Mower

Greenworks 25062 18-­Inch with grasscatcher

The Greenworks 25062 is very similar to the 25072 mentioned above, except that it is smaller and a little lighter.

The width of the mower is slightly less than its bigger brother, but all of the other features are the same; a grasscatcher, high maneuverability, and a four year warranty.

Like Its bigger brother. Ideal for those who want the same great reel mower, but lack the storage, or want less weight to push around.

Sun Joe Mow Joe MJ500M 16­Inch Reel Mower

Sun Joe Mow Joe MJ500M 16­-Inch With Catcher

The Mow Joe MJ500M is a very cheap and standard reel mower.

If you are just looking for something small and light, easy to use, and good value for money then this could be your one.

It is best kept to small lawns and short grasses, but apart from that it really isn't a bad choice.

A cheap, hassle free mower. Ideal for those who want a simple reel mower with no gimmicks.

American Lawn Mower 1705­16 16­Inch Bent Reel Mower

American Lawn Mower 1705-16

The American 1705­16 is a first choice lawn mower for anyone with low growing, creeping grasses like Bermuda, bluegrass, and other bentgrass.

The design makes short work of these grasses but may not be suitable for longer varieties. A specialized mower, but simple and gimmick free none­the­less, the American 1705­16 is great value for money, and is tough as anything with a tempered alloy steel manufacture.


A simple but highly ef ective mower for any low growing lawn. Neat precise finish and durable design.

McLane 20­5.5 GT­7 20­Inch Gross Torque Briggs and Stratton Gas Powered

McLane 20­5.5 GT-7 20-Inch

The McLane 20-5.5 features a high quality Briggs and Stratton engine and heavy duty throttle cable.

In other words, it is very powerful.

Of course, the power of a gas engine kills the peace of a push reel mower, and the traditional ideals are replaced with a machine capable of taking on bigger lawns, and any grass type. The quality finish of the reel mow blades are what makes it a great choice over a standard gas mower. The McLane drives itself and needs no effort from you. It would make a great addition to a homeowner with significant grounds, or for use on a golf course or other commercial uses.

An incredibly powerful machine with a gas engine. The reel mower for the bigger yard, or for high quality commercial use.

Great States 415 16­Inch

Great States 415-16

This is another high quality reel mower from a trustable and experienced company. The Great States 415 comes with an easy to push T­handle design, powder finished to prevent rust.

The blades are of excellent quality and are heat treated, meaning they will rarely need sharpening.

This reel mower gives a very high quality cut to all short lawns, and boasts one of the best customer reviews out of all of our mowers.

High quality blades and a light ergonomic design. A highly cost ef ective and quality reel mower from a giant in the industry.

Gardena 4025­U 15Inch 25­Volt 3.2amp Lithium­Ion Cordless Push Reel Mower

Gardena 4025-U 15-Inch 25Volt 3.2amp Lithium­-Ion Cordless

The Gardena 4025-U is not for the faint hearted, and lies in a different price range to most of the reel mowers featured here. The reason; it is electric and features a rechargeable battery for an easy cordless mow. It brings you power. Much easier to push than a man-powered reel mower, the Gardena 4025 still delivers the high quality finish that has always given the reel mower the edge over a push mower. It features highly adjustable cutting heights, and can be used manually too.

The battery life, fully-charged, is sufficient to easily mow a medium size back and front yard, and the LED display will ensure you are never caught off guard. You may also be glad to know that it is very quiet; almost as peaceful as mowing with a push reel.

For a powerful cordless mower capable of delivering a high quality finish with very little effort, the Gardena 4025 could be your one.

Great States 204 14­-Inch

Great States 204-14

This is the cheapest reel mower to make it into our review, but it is still amazing! The Great States 204 is only designed to take on short grass, so regular mowing is a must.

It is small at 14 inches width, and so is best kept to small yards. If you do have a small, flat yard, then there is no other reason why this isn't an ideal choice for you.

It is high quality, gimmick free, light as anything, easy to push, and it takes minutes to assemble.

A small, light, and nifty reel mower which gives you the highest quality finish for the lowest price.

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