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Best Reel Lawn Mower in 2024 You’ll Want To Settle For? I’ll Raise Y’all To 8!

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by Bryan Mckenzie

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Home » Lawn care » Lawn Mowers » Best Reel Lawn Mower in 2022 You’ll Want To Settle For? I’ll Raise Y’all To 8!
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If there’s one thing me and Gretchen have learned the hard way throughout our 10+ years of semi-professional gardening, it’s the fact that you can’t treat a hand lawn mower like a tool.  The best reel mower is so much more than just a gardening device. It is a fiend that will either help keep your yard nice and tidy or transform a challenging chore into a tedious chore. Treat your choice poorly, and the devil of a machine will break and chew, and spit you up like a broken office shredder. How so?

A manual mower doesn’t have any horsepowers. By definition, it uses your back muscles to operate so a machine that’s excessively heavy or offers poor cutting power gifts the flair of a Herculean feat to one of the most common gardening activities. This is especially true for us, elderly folks.

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Why Go The Extra Mile With A No Motor Lawn Mower?

A few of you are probably asking yourself what’s the point of a reel lawn mower other than a quick ticket on a lovely nostalgia train back to where things were much simpler? Unlike the fuel-powered beasts we tend to rock nowadays, old school lawn mowers spin their blades in a forward motion. Each blade of grass is trapped between the cutting bar and the blade itself and, as a result, slices the grass much more gently as opposed to beating it down with a horizontally spinning circle of death. This approach is much more sparing to your yard, and it leaves your lawn in mint condition longer as the grass is less prone to diseases or spread of the fungus.

Then there are the maintenance benefits – no need for gas or electricity, wire management, engine maintenance, etc. And even the tradeoff isn’t that bad! New mechanical lawn mowers are designed with modern-day technology and alloys. In simpler words, they are much lighter and wieldier than back in the day. Do note that even a top-rated reel mower is designed to maintain a small yard with a narrow landscape.

So what are these wonders of engineering that’ll keep your lawn crisp and your back safe?

7 Best Reel Lawn Mowers

1.  Great States 18-Inch Reel Lawn Mower – The Best Push Mower In Its Class 4.7/5 

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The 18’’ Great States by the American Lawn Mower Company is, in my opinion, the best reel lawn mower in its class. I like the company because when the world switched to petrol-fueled machinery, these guys have stuck to their guns. As consumers, we now access 120 years of technological innovation dedicated to perfecting a single product – the rotary lawn mower.

In simpler words, the team behind the Great States is quite dedicated, and it shows. Especially in my favorite gardening weapon of choice – the Great States Mower.

? Specs

     ?Cutting edge: you can adjust your five-bladed beast to trim the lawn at a set height of 5 – 2.75 inches.
     ?Materials: Do you know how they make katana swords in Japan? The steel of this mower’s blades undergoes a similar process of heat-treating. This way the blades stay sharp for a much longer period of time.
     ?Mechanics and design: You’ll get your hands on an 18’’ wide mower with 10’’ wheels and a loop-style handle. I find that the grip is nicely done, yet the mechanism of folding the machine for storage could have been much simpler.
     ?Weight: 27 lbs.

? Mowing experience

The Great States is the best lawn reel mower in my opinion. I felt like I snapped each spring of grass on my lawn with a pair of scissors and a ruler after testing it out. The movement was fluid. I’d even say the mower was easy to get behind. Heh-heh, get it?

My lovely wife has enjoyed mowing the lawn with the Great States model, and despite the obvious difference in weight categories, the process was equally as easy for her as it was for me.

The only real issue I’ve found with this model is that it is a pain in the neck to reassemble, so you’ll probably prefer to hang it in your garage as it taking up more space than necessary.

ADVANTAGES
  • Great cutting capabilities
  • Simple and wieldy
  • Lightweight considering its size
  • High-quality materials and mechanism
DRAWBACKS
  • Takes up more space than necessary

2. American Lawn Mower Company 14-Inch Reel Lawn Mower – Eco-Friendly Manual Grass Cutter 4.3/5 

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Here we have yet another product by the American Lawn Mower Company. This cutter is a little bit smaller than its elder brother with a 14’’ wide cutting path and only 4 ball-bearing reel-based blades.

Don’t get this wrong though – the heat-treated blades are as sharp and more than enough to deal with most common types of grass. I also dig the orange color in the design. It makes the whole thing pop.

The only visible downside to this model, compared to the Great States is its width – lowing larger yards will take a long time.

? Specs

     ? Cutting edge: this mower offers 4 heat-treated blades with an adjustable cutting height of 1’’ to 1.7’’.
     ? Materials: The American Lawn Mower Company stays true to themselves with high-quality, rust, and wear-&-tear resistant metals. The steel ball bearing reel is tough enough to handle prolonged use and doesn’t require any additional maintenance.
     ? Mechanics and design: while the cutting mechanism itself is nothing new or out of this world, I’d still like to point out the handlebar. It offers a nice grip and doesn’t require any assembly tools.
     ?  Weight: 20 lbs.

? Mowing experience

This handy rotary lawn mower is on the smaller side of the family, which makes it a nice fit for less physically adept people. If you’d like to teach your kids a lesson or two about personal responsibility, they’ll be able to mow the lawn in a heartbeat.

That being said, I’d advise using this model on smaller yards or in places that demand higher levels of accuracy, e.g., a backyard with a flower garden.

ADVANTAGES
  • High-quality blades
  • Compact size
  • Ergonomic handle
  • General flexibility
DRAWBACKS
  • Smaller mowing edge

3. Fiskars StaySharp Reel Mower, 18 Inch – Best Manual Lawn Mower For Men 4.1/5 

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This Fiskars reel mower can pack a mighty punch with its StaySharp TM cutting system that, despite the oversized design is still quite wieldy.

What makes this system different from the others is the fact that the stationary reel doesn’t make contact with the ground blades. In simpler words, the cutting system doesn’t prevent itself from staying sharp longer. The width of the blades themselves is also worth your attention. They cover the entirety of the device to prevent you from accidentally leaving unfinished stripes of unmowed grass across your backyard.

The machine boasts a chain-drive device that makes it 60% easier to push. Now I’ll be honest with you here. I don’t know who measured the “pushing difficulty” and what the baseline for it was, but mowing the lawn with this bad boy takes a lot of effort. The quality of trimming and the nice, polished finish you get as a result is 100% worth the extra hustle.

? Specs

     ? Cutting edge: The mechanism offers very sharp blades that treat your lawn with the tenderness and care it deserves.
     ? Mechanics and design: The cutting reel is quite large in diameter. Paired with thicker blades, it offers more cutting power than most items on today’s review. The manufacturer also boasts an optimized chain-drive design that is intended to make pushing 60% easier, but I don’t know what they measured the StaySharp Max Reel against. The handle has a nice, ergonomic grip.
     ? Weight: 51.7 lbs.

? Mowing experience

I am a huge fan of the Fiskas StaySharp Max as I don’t mind a little bit of extra effort when I get a perfectly trimmed lawn in return. My wife is not a huge fan, though – this mower is simply too heavy for her.

I’d also like to notice that this mower leaves precise and clean cuts meaning that, despite looking like a devilish blender of Hell, the blades are quite sparing and gentle.

ADVANTAGES
  • Flexible when it comes to mowing multiple types of grass
  • StaySharpTM cutting system keeps the blades sharp longer
  • Easy to switch between blade heights modes
  • Superb cutting capabilities
DRAWBACKS
  • This mower weighs 50+ lbs.
  • Takes up a lot of storage space

4. Scotts 20-Inch Reel Lawn Mower – An Affordable Rotary Lawn Mower 4.4/5 

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The Scotts reel mower we are looking at may have the words “power tool” in its name, but it is actually a fairly simplistic, lightweight machine that shines in particularly small yards but doesn’t fare well against the competition otherwise.

This machine has five 20’’ blades and an adjustable height of 0.5’’ – 1.75’’ which is OK. The blades are heat-treated, so they will stay sharp longer. The T-shaped handle is nice, but nothing to write home about.

All in all, I’d call this your run-in-the-mill mower and leave it at that if it weren’t for one thing – the device is almost dirt cheap and, given the price tag, you are getting much more than you’ve paid for.

? Specs

     ? Cutting edge: This mower has a 5-blade reel that operates thanks to a ball-bearing mechanism. The blades are fine, especially for the price of the device.
     ? Mechanics and design: You won’t get too many bells, and whistles added on top of this model other than the adjustable heights of trimming.
     ? Weight: This little guy is super lightweight at only 19.00 lbs.

? Mowing experience

Scotts Outdoor Power Tool is a real find for those of you on a slim budget. The device will do everything you can expect from it. It will not go beyond though. Both my wife and I had a pleasant experience using this mower as it is quite lightweight and wieldy. I disliked that it can leave trails of uncut grass on the sides, and Gretchen noticed that the height adjustment mechanism could have been realized in a much more efficient manner. I guess it does take some getting used to.

ADVANTAGES
  • Great performance on a tight budget
  • Accurate cutting
  • Adjustable blades
DRAWBACKS
  • An unwieldy height adjustment mechanism
  • Feels cheap to the touch

5. American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14 14-Inch Reel Lawn Mower – A Light Push Mower Without Motor 4.3/5 

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Yet another member of the American Lawn Mower Company enters the fray. This time we are taking a look at the 1304-14, a 14’’ mower that combines some of the best feats of its aforementioned brothers – a heat-forged blade alloy and a wieldy, lightweight design.

Unfortunately, it carries over some of the flaws like an inconveniently designed mowing height adjustment system. That being said, a few minor issues are a small price to pay for a fairly decent mower with a below-average price tag. Add the minimal weight and a decent ball bearing-based blade system on top of that, and you’ll get a handy device that’s as easy to push around as a well-greased go-cart.

My wife and I can only recommend this machine to women who prefer to take care of their garden on their own.

? Specs

     ? Cutting edge: This device offers five 15’’ wide blades that can be adjusted between 0.5’’ and 1.7’’ high.
     ? Mechanics and design: The T-shaped handle is not a marvel of ergonomics and engineering, but it definitely gets the job done, especially given how lightweight this baby is. The 8.5’’ wheels give you that much needed extra convenience when it comes to mobility and flexibility on a less than a perfectly flattened lawn.
     ? Weight: 21 lbs.

? Mowing experience

My wife and I had a pleasant experience with 1304-14, but she leaned to this mower much more heavily while I felt I was lacking raw power. Yes, I do realize this sounds weird, especially when discussing a man-powered device, but this is the basic jest of what I have experienced, so I am sharing it with you “as is”.

This mower performed well avoiding the meticulously designed inns and outs of our flower garden labyrinth – an undeniably Herculean feat if I say so myself.

That being said, I have my doubts regarding the machine’s capability of handling tall, thick grass.

ADVANTAGES
  • Lightweight and wieldable
  • Goes well for gardeners on a budget
  • Nice trimming capabilities
DRAWBACKS
  • The mechanism is a pain in the neck to clean and maintain

6. Earthwise 16-Inch Reel Lawn Mower – The Best Push Reel Lawn Mower With 7 Blades 4.4/5 

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The Earthwise 1715-16EW is the premium offering from the American Lawn Mower Company. The baby features not four, not five, but 7 heat-treated 16’’ blades attached to an improved rotary mechanism.

This mower is constructed of alloy steel that, in turn, increases its durability. I felt like the level of mobility and versatility could have been a bit higher, but hey, there’s only so much maneuverability you can expect from a 16’’ wide cutting edge.

I’ve also noticed that the wheels can leave some unwanted tracks on your lawn so please keep this in mind and don’t push too hard on the mower.

? Specs

     ? Cutting edge: Earthwise rocks a total of seven 16’’ wide blades composed of wear-&-tear-resistant metal alloy. This is a nice perk given how difficult it may be to sharpen the blades after use.
     ?  Mechanics and design: The rotating mechanism is based on a ball bearing reel which makes it perfect for cutting most grass types. The handle offers a decent grip but it is barely adjustable.
     ?  Weight: 26 lbs.

? Mowing experience

Eartwise 1715-16EW features great mobility, powerful cutting capabilities, and nicely cut blades of grass thanks to its signature 7-blade reel.

This mower is a perfect fit for people with small back yards that don’t have too much stuff on them. By “stuff” I mean structures such as yarns, greenhouses, etc. I also don’t believe that Earthwise will handle tall grass with grace, but it is more than perfect for every other purpose.

ADVANTAGES
  • Wide cutting edge
  • High-quality blades
  • Precise, scissor-like cuts
DRAWBACKS
  • Lack of mobility
  • Poor performance when it comes to tall grass

7. Great States 415-16 16-Inch Reel Lawn Mower – A Perfect Balance Of Budget And Cutting Power 4.2/5 

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5 high-quality steel alloy blades, an adjustable cutting height of 0.5’’ – 2.5’’, and 10’’ composite wheels make the Great States 415-16 into one of the most versatile tools in a gardening enthusiast’s arsenal.

You will easily mow 2000 square feet of the lawn without breaking a sweat. Anything beyond that can be considered as a nifty cardio workout.
That being said, the cutting takes some getting used to as the mower is fairly responsive to even the slightest of your twitches. You can leave a couple of wheel tracks in the process if you are not careful enough.

? Specs

     ? Cutting edge: This Great States model trims your lawn with five 16-inch blades you can adjust to fit your personal tastes and preferences. The blades are finely sharpened so you will not lose any cutting capabilities for an extensive period of time.
     ? Mechanics and Design: The design is typical for other mowers from the Great States lineup. The T-shaped handle is nice and wieldy, but the lack of adjustability can harm your experience with the mower. Luckily, the machine makes up for this in its 10’’ composite wheels.
     ? Weight: 2.2 pounds.

? Mowing experience

As far as these push reel mower reviews go, I’ve probably tested this mower for the longest period of time. Why? This is the mower I’ve owned before starting to work on this piece. Ergo, I’ve been using it before exploring the alternatives.

How does it hold up now, after I’ve tested 7 other models of mowers?

Well, to be completely honest with you, my impression has not changed as this is still a fairly flexible device that offers satisfactory results. I don’t have a problem achieving an even edge on my lawn nor do I suffer from the less than adjustable handle. That being said, my old lady is not a fan of the Great States 415-16 so we’ll probably switch to Great States 18 Inch model in the foreseeable future.

ADVANTAGES
  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Great wheels for imperfect lawns
  • Decent cutting capacity
DRAWBACKS
  • Tricky in maintenance
  • Inconvenient handle

On this note, we can conclude our reel lawn mower reviews and dive a little bit deeper into the questions some of you might still have.

8. Remington 16-Inch Reel Mower – Slick Reel Mower With Bag 3.9/5 

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Remington is known for developing some of the finest, most reliable, and easy to use tools for gardening on the market. Yes, their machines are on the pricier end of the bargain, but they always have that polished touch, and premium feel that justifies the extra bucks spent on a mower.

The Remington RM3000 follows this design philosophy to a T. The comfortable, ergonomic handle and the 6’’ x 10’’ wheels make pushing easy even despite the considerably wide 16’’ cutting path. I’ve found that this is one of the few manual mowers you can use for some heavy-duty labor in addition to keeping your lawn crisp over the weekends.

Lastly, the mower looks like a fancy racecar you can mow your lawn with. Neat!

? Specs

     ? Cutting edge: EM3000 rocks five 16’’ wide blades with adjustable cutting height. There’s nothing super special about the blades themselves, but I’d like to notice that they are quite user-friendly when it comes to cleaning and maintenance.
     ? Mechanics and design: This Remington mower boasts an aggressive, black, and orange design with an adjustable grip you can attune to any height. The mulching feature allows you to pick up the clippings as you trim the lawn.
     ? Weight: 13 lbs.

? Mowing experience

I’ve enjoyed using the EM3000 on my comparatively large yard. Mowing was quite easy as the machine ended up being surprisingly wieldy. I guess the mulching feature is both the biggest strength and the most obvious weakness of this mower.

On the one side, being able to trim a lawn without scattering thousands of clippings is pretty cool. on the other, I had to clean the bag afterward, and it was not an easy process as there was a lot of grass stuck in the corners.

ADVANTAGES
  • Lightweight for its size
  • Convenient and adjustable to the job
  • Nice, wide trimming path
  • Premium quality
DRAWBACKS
  • Somewhat pricey
  • The bag needs cleaning and maintenance

FAQ on Reel Lawn Mowers

How to use a reel lawn mower?

Using a reel lawn mower is as simple as pushing a cart with the only difference being there are blades at the bottom. The fact that you have to mow the lawn in a throughout straightforward pattern adds a little bit of complexity into the process, but there’s nothing you can do lighten your burden other than gaining more experience. On the bright side, you can fuel your man-powered mower with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and there’ll be no exhaust gas polluting the atmosphere.

So, if you are looking for a maintenance-free, eco-friendly lawn mowing experience, there’s nothing better than taking an old-school mower and pushing it through your back yard.

How to clean a reel lawn mower?

Cleaning a mechanical mower is actually one of the simplest experiences you’ll have while tending to the lawn. Why?

There are no cables, engines, or elements requiring a change of oil I the device, so cleaning is as simple as washing the grass of the blades with water.

That being said, you may need a grinding stone and grinding paste to keep the blades from rusting over extended periods of use.

The cleaning process itself depends on the model of the mower you own. Luckily, most ball bearing-based reels aren’t that hard to figure out – just apply the grinding paste to the blades after drying them from water and rotate the reel backward for like 15 minutes or so. Use a piece of cloth or an old newspaper to remove the remaining paste and boom – you are done!

What size yard for reel lawn mower?

This is a tricky question as various models of mowers differ in their capabilities.

That being said, most mowers are designed to keep a relatively small to medium-sized lawn crisp and trimmed. Think anything less than 8,000 feet is OK. Going beyond won’t do you any good as you are the person pushing the device.

Don’t be intimidated though. If your yard is 8K feet or smaller, you’ll enjoy a lovely day on the fresh air doing some free cardio and keeping your house and all of the surrounding properties in mint condition. What can be better than enjoying a nice tall glass of ice-cold… lemonade after an exhausting yet morally pleasing workout?

How to cut tall grass with a reel mower?

Great States Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower

The answer to this question depends on what you consider tall grass to be. If your greens are five to six inches wide, you simply need to set your mower to the highest cut setting and do the job the usual way. That’s really all you’ll need to give your home and yard a slick polished look.

You’ll need to use a separate device called the grass trimmer for anything above the six-inch mark. Luckily, there’s no reason for you to be extra cautious. Your only goal at this stage is getting the grass to the level your mower is comfortable with handling.

Yep, it is indeed as simple as that!

How to sharpen a reel lawn mower?

Sharpening the blades of a reel mower may seem like an overly-complex and tedious task, but don’t be intimidated by it. The reality is much simpler than it seems.

You’ll need a grinding stone, some grinding paste, and a piece of old cloth or preferably a useless newspaper (aren’t they all in our digital age?).

The next thing you should do is put the mower horizontally on a table in order to access the blades. If they are detachable – just use the grinding stone + grinding paste combo. If they are not, well, apply the paste and spin the reel in the opposite direction for ten to fifteen minutes.

Remove the excess of the paste with the old paper once all are set and done.

An old-fashioned mowing experience

A reel lawn mower is so much more than a one-way trip down memory lane. Sure, they have the nostalgia vibe and most looks sassy with all the modern-made designs inspired by classy models from the 1960es, but the actual benefits most homeowners are looking for lie in the practicality of a mechanical device.

A decent reel lawn mower is an excellent addition to any homeowner’s toolbox. This wonderful device doesn’t take up a lot of space – one can easily hang it in the garage or tuck it into a corner somewhere, and, as long as the place isn’t moist, they’ll be done.

Reel mowers are built on a very simple mechanical basis, so they don’t require any maintenance, updates, repairs, or oil changes. They are 100% ready to go whenever you are. Plus there’s the additional benefit of keeping fossil gas from polluting the atmosphere, which is nice.

And what’s your take on these handy little gardening helpers? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

About
Bryan Mckenzie
Hi there — my name is Bryan McKenzie. Before I’d got into gardening, I worked as a landscape designer at landscape design and consultation company in Jacksonville. I enjoy sharing the vast gardening experience I’ve accumulated throughout the years with like-minded green thumbs. Read more about me and my wife.
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