9 Best Reel Mowers With TOP 3 Results

Any garden’s vital attribute is a healthy lawn. The Earth Observatory program by NASA states that the United States has three times the amount of lawns compared to irrigated cornfields. Functioning as a carbon sink, lawns absorb around 37 billion pounds of carbon annually, which is equivalent to the weight of approximately 147,000 blue whales.

Manual reel mowers have no negative impact on the environment. In addition, the cut action of a good, properly adjusted reel mower is superior to any achievable with a rotary mower – slicing the top of each grass blade perfectly.

Reel mowers are quiet, clean, and effective if you get a good one. With hundreds, we have selected the nine best ones for you to consider. This article will explain why we chose these specific ones and give our opinion on the TOP three reel mowers.

Like with hair cutting, you don’t expect a pair of scissors to do what a clipper does.

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A banner picture of a non-descript reel mower in a yard

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Reel Mower

When selecting a reel mower for yourself, there are six essential factors to consider – none of which is price.

  • Grass Type
  • Blade Quality and Count
  • Cutting Width and Height
  • Wheel Design
  • Weight
  • User Feedback

Grass Type and Cut Height

If you simplify it, there are two types of lawns in the United States: warm and cool. There are also transitional hybrids, but we’re not getting into that now.

Grass TypeMowing HeightFrequencyMower Preference
Common Warm Season Grasses
Bermuda Grass0.75 to 1.5very highreel/rotary
Centipede Grass1.5 to 2lowreel/rotary
 St Augustine Grass2.5 to 4moderatereel/rotary
 Zoysia Grass0.75 to 2moderatereel/rotary
Bahia Grass3 to 4highrotary
Buffalo Grass1.5 to 4moderatereel/rotary
Seashore Paspalum1 to 1.5mediumrotary
Bent Grass0.5 to 1moderatereel/rotary
Dichondra Repens0.5 to 1moderatereel/rotary
Common Cool Season Grasses
Kentucky Bluegrass2 – 2.5highreel/rotary
Perennial Ryegrass0.5 to 2.5highreel/rotary
Fine Fescue1.5 to 4highreel/rotary
Tall Fescue2.5 to 3.5highreel/rotary

We hope this consolidated information helps in showing you that a reel mower can cut all lawns except Bahai turfgrass. Its seeds and even a rotary mower struggle to level it with one pass-through.

Another consideration with grass types is the preferred mowing height. When choosing your reel mower, consider the available height setting. Cutting lawns more than a third of the blade length at a time weakens the plant and gives pathogens an opportunity.

The limits for a healthy lawn inform the suggested mowing height; cutting lawns shorter than suggested is not advised. Long grass is a weak spot for reel mowers, though there are ways to work around that. Ideally, you want your lawn not to require more than a third-off trim.

Blade Quality and Count

Reel mowers use a rotating reel (or cylinder) fitted with multiple blades. The number of cutter blades required depends on the grass type (again) and the number of reel rotations per inch traveled forward.

The blade quality is a factor of harness and cutting angle. The cutting angle changes from a slap to a snip by arching the blade like a helix coil on the reel. Think of scissors cutting a piece of paper vs. an ax cutting the same paper. Both will form, but the energy required differs.

Regarding hardness, a metal with high tensile strength will stay sharper longer, even with the occasional stick or acorn. All the blades in the review are made of tempered steel.

Cutting Width and Height

The limits for a healthy lawn inform the suggested mowing height; cutting lawns shorter than suggested is not advised. The reviewed reel mowers range from 0.5 to 4 inches, with the Fiskars Staysharp max covering the broadest spectrum – from one inch to four. Fiskars achieves this by adding inset wheels that lift the form of the unit off the ground.

The wider you can cut with a single pass, the less energy you need to cover the yard. But a wider curring edge reduces maneuverability and increases weight. Warping of the reel is the main reason why big machines like the Toro Reelmaster use five cutting heads to cut eight ft. 4 inches per pass for this very reason.

We review reel mowers from 14- to 20 inches.

Wheel Design

The wheels determine the cutting height and also drive the mechanism that rotates the reel. The ratio of the wheels’ rotation to the reel rotation is essential. Also, the wheels must have a revolution grip to activate the initial reel rotation. Once the blades are in motion, the momentum reduces the strain on the gears.

Fiskars has a patented system to ensure the start is more fluid. Wheel sizes in the review are either 8.5 inches or 10 inches – all are made of a composite polymer.

Weight

A unit that is too light will be unable to drive the reel, as traction depends on grip, of which weight is a factor. On the other hand, who wants to push a tank around their yard? Getting that balance right is key – enough weight to drive the blades without fatiguing the gardener.

User Feedback

Finally, we can have all the data, but it would be wise to heed what the owners of the products say. Our review will examine three factors  – the number of reviewers and the percentage of happy and unhappy customers.

Our Choice of the 9 Best Reel Mowers

Reel MowerNo. of BladesCut HeightHandle TypeCut WidthWheel DiameterWeight (Pounds)
American Lawn Mower Company 1204-1440.5 to 1.75Tee-Style148.520
Greenworks 14-Inch  RM140051.06 to 2Tee-Style141024
Earthwise 1715-16EW 16-Inch 7-Blade70.5 to 2.5Angled-Tee161026
Fiskars StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower41 to 4Racer Loop181051
Great States 815-18 18-Inch 5-Blade50.5 to 2.75Loop-Style181027
Scotts 2000-20S 20-Inch 5-Blade51 to 3Racer Loop20102.2
Einhell GE-HM 38 50.5 to 1.5Adjustable151022
American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14 51 to 1.75Tee-Style148.522.5
American Lawn Mower Company 1815-18 51 to 2.75Loop-Style181027

1.     Earthwise 1715-16EW 16-Inch 7-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower

Infographics for Earthwisee reel mower

The Earthwise 1715-16EW 16-inch 7-blade reel mower is ideal for denser lawns. Of the 456 reviewers, 397 were fully satisfied with their purchase. That is the best score of all the reel mowers reviewed.

This mower is ideal for Bentgrass, Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Seashore Paspalum. Due to the seed pods that stand proud of the rest of the lawn, Zoysia is challenging to cut. We suggest using a four or 5-blade reel mower for grasses like Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and Crabgrass.

Reel mowers are lightweight and easy to maneuver. They’re perfect for today’s smaller lawns (up to a 1/4 acre) and fast-paced lives. They’re always ready when needed, nearly maintenance-free, and easy to store. They’re environmentally friendly and lawn-friendly, cutting your grass to a clean, precise trim.

Generally, a perfect reel mower – even the price will make you smile.


2.     American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14

Infographics for ALMC 1304 reel mower

At the time of writing, this affordable, lightweight reel mower had 1,665 reviews on Amazon. Eighty-four percent of these sang the praises of this smaller-wheeled unit.

1304-14 can cut Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and Crabgrass just under 2 inches tall. The mower is simple and can be adjusted to cut grass to the desired length. The soft padded handle is robust and provides a secure grip.

The American Lawn Mower Reel Mower delivers vigorous cutting action while releasing no hazardous gases into the atmosphere. The eco-friendly mower is lightweight and low-maintenance, making grass mowing a breeze.

Before using a reel mower, take the time to fully rake the yard and remove sticks and debris that may have accumulated. This will make the actual mowing easier. This mower is light, easy to push, maneuvers well, and easy to put away – but it still does a fine job on the lawn. Assembly is a breeze too.


3.     American Lawn Mower Company 1204-14 14-Inch 4-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower

Infographics for ALMC 1204 reel mower

The American Lawn Mower Company has a wide range of reel mowers. Though the branding is American, the company sources some of its mowers abroad.

This 4-blade unit differs from 1304 in blade count, weight, and pricing. It can also be cut to half an inch, whereas 1305 can only go down to 1 inch.

It is lighter, probably due to having one less blade, but it is about $20 more expensive. Still, it’s well-loved. With 8,109 reviews on Amazon, eighty-four percent said they were pleased with 1204. That’s a lot of love.

This is a good buy if your lawn is Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, or Crabgrass. From some reviews, this is a little beast with those lawns, munching its way through effortlessly.

A fact not often considered is noise’s impact on people and animals. For people living with autism, a reel mower is a game-changer. It is so much quieter than the gasoline of an electric mower.

For many reviewers mowing the lawn has changed from a dreaded task to a pleasure. They put their headphones on and treat the time as a workout – good for the body, health, and environment.


4.     Great States 815-18 18-Inch 5-Blade

Infographics for Great States 815 reel mower

There are two extremes in reel mower blade counts; four blades on one end of the spectrum and seven on the other. As mentioned earlier, The blade count is relevant to the grass types. The Great States 815-18 is a lovely middle-of-the-road option.

The 18-inch width means you cover more ground than any previous machines reviewed. It is also, according to reviews, the best 18-inch unit. Amazon recommends the product (Amazon’s Choice), something they do not do lightly.

The double rollers at the back will contribute to some striping effect. Striping happens when grass blades bend and either absorb or reflect light – depending on the sun’s angle to the grass blade. The rollers contribute to bending the blades, turning the 27 pounds this unit weighs.

One of the reviews said about their purchase: “If you already know you want to switch to a reel mower, you can stop reading and buy this one. Heavy quality has worked smoothly for an entire season so far. Great price. Classic design that doesn’t need improvement.”


5.     American Lawn Mower Company 1815-18

Infographics for ALMC 1815 reel mower

In response to the Great States 815-18, the American Lawn Mower Company brought out this 1815-18. The Great States is almost identical but has one difference in the specification – it can’t reach as low as the Great States 815-18.

1815-18 only goes down to 1 inch. It weighs the same and is 18 inches wide but costs a bit more. Also, the rating for the reviews is lower, but not by much.

One of the most important considerations to remember when getting a reel mower is that it cuts the lawn well but won’t give you the effect of a motorized reel mower. That said, you won’t need the extra space to store it; it is quiet, and there’s no need to set it up.

While some see using a reel mower as an opportunity to exercise, many comments show that it doesn’t take much more energy than pushing a powered unit. Of course, if you are used to a walk-along mower, this will make your scale happier.


6.     Fiskars StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower

Infographics for Fiskars reel mower

This unit almost reached the top three, but the finalists were too strong. With its patented StaySharp and VersaCut technologies, Fiskars’ reel mower is a good investment.

This unit almost reached the top three, but the finalists were too strong. With its patented StaySharp and VersaCut technologies, Fiskars’ reel mower is a good investment. The Fiskars StaySharp is the most expensive of all the units reviewed, but there’s a good reason for this. It mows like a pro.

If you do not allow your grass to turn into a jungle, the Fiskars takes no more energy than pushing a standard gas or electric mower. If your lawn is already out of control, expect the first cut to take some effort.

If you cannot attend to your garden at least weekly, then a reel mower is not a good idea. The more you mow, the easier it is with a reel mower. If you extend the time between cuts to ten days and the lawn has grown, the Fiskars has some nice features and upgrades from other reel mowers.

The handle is adjustable to multiple heights. The blades cut to the outside of the wheels, so you get a nice wide-cutting path. Blade height adjustments are easy; just one lever chooses the height of the cut.

Blade adjustments are accessible. It simply takes turning four bolts to adjust. Using a strip of standard printer paper, test your gap. If the blades neatly slice the paper, the settings are correctly set. This should only be necessary once a season.

An outstanding feature of the Fiskars is that it is chain-driven. All the other evaluated units have a plastic gearing system. Plastic stands a greater risk of being damaged. The 10-inch wheel and cylinder ratio is excellent, and the 5-blade reel spins fast, even at a normal walking pace.

It is good practice to double-pass over your lawn, straight and diagonally – even with a powered mower. The clean-cut produced by the scissor-action of a reel mower will improve your lawn quality.


7.     Greenworks 14-Inch RM1400

Infographics for Greenworks reel mower

The Greenworks 14-Inch RM1400 is a reasonably priced unit, given that it comes with a clippings catcher bag—a warning: the catcher bag could increase your mow time by as much as 50%. Also, leaving your clipping on the lawn reduces your need for nitrogen by half. Look at this article I wrote for more information on clippings  – Leave or collect grass clippings off the lawn? (The Facts) – Simplify Gardening

This is our third 14-inch reel mower reviewed. It’s also the second cheapest unit – the Einhell is the cheapest. Of the four most affordable who bought this product from Amazon and left a review, 335 loved it. Of course, those who gave it less than a 4-star rating could be unhappy with the packaging or delivery processes, not necessarily the product. The Greenworks 14-Inch RM1400 scored 4.2 out of 5 stars.

The Greenworks 14-Inch RM1400 is an excellent entry-level machine for a smaller yard of Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, or Crabgrass.


8.     Scotts 2000-20S 20-Inch 5-Blade

Infographics for Scotts reel mower

So here’s an exciting machine. It’s the only 20-inches reel mower we reviewed. That’s quite a stretch and the widest reel mower we evaluated. It has 5-blades reasonable cutting heights and only weighs 22 pounds.

The approval rating is the same as the Greenworks RM1400 at 8.0 out of 10.

This unit’s heat-treated steel 5-blade reel is best for Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, or Crabgrass. This precision blade technology cuts accurately, quickly, and cleanly. The blades spin efficiently as you push the mower through your grass, thanks to smooth ball bearings.

The Scotts 2000-20S gives you complete control over your lawn’s height. The nine quick-snap height adjusters are simple to use and provide you fingertip control over your blade height for precise cuts – from one to three inches.

The Scotts 2000-20S has two 10-inch and six-inch tracking wheels for additional maneuverability. The Scotts 2000-20 mower’s revolutionary dual-wheel tracking system reduces drag and simplifies pushing across even the most challenging terrain. The loop-style handle with foam grip comforts the mower’s operation while improving maneuverability.


9.     Einhell GE-HM 38

Infographics for Einhell reel mower

The Einhell GE-HM 38 S-F has adjustable handlebars and a quick-attachable 6.9-gallon clippings collection bag. Though it comes in with the lowest review rating, some owners defend their purchase. Here are some comments made in 2021 include:

  • Great mower, IF you know what to expect.
  • Easy to use, lightweight, does the job
  • Not bad for the price
  • Exceeded expectations
  • Does the job
  • Small, light and environmentally friendly
  • Perfect little push mower!

The Einhell GE-HM 38 S-F is the only 15-inch width mower evaluated. Gardena also makes a 15-inch reel mower, but we did not assess it. The Einhell reel mower is good for shorter grass cuts – half an inch to 1.5 inches. Height settings are done with a 4-position clip-in lever.



Our TOP Three Reel Mowers (and Why)

Picture of the Great States 815-18 and vital statistics infographics

The Earthwise 1715-16EW is our Gold Medalist.

The perfect combination of width, strength and unique 7-blade configuration sets this machine head-and-shoulders above its peers. This is a lovely engineering and environment-friendly garden tool that works well.

Check out current prices here.

Picture of the Earthwise Reel Mower

Picture of the ALMC 1304 Reel Mower

The American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14 is our Silver Medal winner.

This is the best 14-inch reel mower on the market – a view shared by thousands of others. The 5-blade unit weighs 22.5 pounds and cuts between 1 inch and 1.75 inches – a standard height for most lawns.

Check out current prices here.

The Great States 815-18 is the Bronze Medal winner.

The Great States 815-18 was the most versatile reel mower reviewed. With an 18-inch deck, the broadest height adjustment, and weighing in at only 27 pounds, the third place, in this case, is a rock star – and 5-blades to boot.

Check out current prices here.

Picture of the Grate State Reel Mower

FAQs on 9 Best Reel Mowers With TOP 3 Results

Is a reel mower as good as a rotor mower?

A reel mower is better for your lawn. As it moves over the lawn, a reel mower cuts a blade of grass once – when the blade is upright. It snips it like a pair of scissors. A rotary mower has blades spinning under it, is the blade is not super sharp; it shreds the ends.

What are the other advantages of a manual reel mower?

Reel mowers are easy to store, fast to get going, and quiet to operate. If you keep your lawn trim, the effort of using a manual reel mower is equivalent to that used to push a motorized mower – if not easier.

What a the maintenance requirements for a reel mower?

Like any tool with a sharp edge, keeping it clean and rust-free is essential. A quick wipe with a lightly oiled rag will do the trick. The oil’s function lubricates and blocks air and moisture from reaching the blade surface.

What is the recommended property size for a push reel mower?

You can replace your motorized mower with a push-reel mower by using an 18-inch deck and keeping your lawn trimmed regularly (weekly). Motorized power is better if you cannot keep your lawn in constant shape.

Conclusion on 9 Best Reel Mowers With TOP 3 Results

Reel mowers, pushed or powered, are the best option for a healthy lawn. They provide a clean cut, which a rotary mower cannot match, even with a sharp blade.

The reviewed reel mowers are nothing like what Grandad used to use. They are engineering masterpieces, able to cut your lawn as quickly as any motorized machine could – if you keep your lawn manicured. It’s good for the planet, good for your lawn, and good for you.

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