Which reel mower is best?

Keeping your lawn mowed eliminates pests and promotes healthy growth. Still, choosing the right lawnmower can be tricky. Gas mowers are loud and produce emissions, and battery-powered mowers can be inconvenient.

Reel mowers, on the other hand, don’t require a power source and are easy to maintain. When choosing a reel mower, you’ll want to consider the blades, cutting width and weight. 

What to consider when buying a reel mower

Reel mower cutting width

Mowers with wide cutting widths help you cut your lawn faster. Many reel mowers have a 14- to 20-inch cutting width. Still, wider mowers can be more challenging to maneuver and may weigh more. Because the wheelbase is wider than the width of the reel, you’ll want to overlap slightly with each pass.

Reel mower weight

Using a reel mower can feel like an upper-body workout if you’re used to self-propelled mowers. It’s good to consider the weight when buying one, so it’s less strenuous to use. 

Reel mower blades

These mowers generally have four to seven blades and a bed knife. Mowers with more blades are usually best for tall, coarse grass. 

How to back lap your reel mower blades

To ensure you’re always getting a clean cut, you can sharpen up the blades with this simple method. 

  1. Get your materials: You’ll need a back-lapping compound, a paintbrush, a way to turn your blades and an abrasive.
     
  2. Remove the drive wheel: Most reel mowers have a nut or pin that covers the drive wheel. The drive wheel is usually on the left side of the mower. Once you remove the wheel, you’ll see the gears that control the blades. Remove the gear, and you’ll be left with the shaft.
     
  3. Adjust the blades:  There are different ways to adjust your blades depending on your mower. It’s best to read your instruction manual to understand how to adjust them. You’ll want to make them come in contact with your bed knife.
     
  4. Use your lapping compound: Spread the lapping mixture on your blades using a small paintbrush. 
     
  5. Crank your blades: Begin cranking your blades backward. Crank them for around eight to 10 minutes and apply more lapping compound. Continue cranking the blades backward until you see a thin, shiny surface.
     
  6. Reassemble your mower: Put everything back together in reverse order, cleaning and greasing the parts as you go. 

Reel lawnmower FAQ

Are reel mowers good for your lawn?

A. Rotary mowers leave a jagged edge on your grass. Alternatively, reel mowers function like a pair of scissors, leaving a smooth edge on the cut grass. The clean cut leads to healthier, better-looking grass.

Are reel mowers hard to push?

A. Reel mowers require upper-body strength to push. Still, they’re usually lighter than traditional mowers and shouldn’t be particularly difficult to move. If you feel your reel mower is hard to use, it may be due to bent or dull blades. You may need to sharpen the edges or bend them back in shape with a hammer.

Can you use a reel mower on wet grass?

A. They can be used on damp grass, but you shouldn’t run them through standing water. Rust may form if you let your mower sit while wet.

Are reel mowers effective on tall grass?

A. Reel mowers are best for short grass. If you own a reel mower, it’s a good idea to trim the grass at least once a week, or it may become difficult to use.

Best reel mowers

Reel mowers under $200 

Remington RM3000 16-Inch Reel Push Mower

Remington RM3000 16-Inch Reel Push Mower

What you need to know: It’s easy to use and features a built-in grass catcher.

What you’ll love: It’s affordable and simple to assemble. The blades are sharp, and the grass catcher is ideal for those who want mulching capabilities. The reel is also adjustable.

What you should consider: The handle is relatively flimsy, and the blades may squeak.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Great States 16-Inch Five-Blade Reel Mower

Great States 16-Inch Five-Blade Reel Mower

What you need to know: It’s affordable and assembly is straightforward.

What you’ll love: This model is lightweight and features a simple design. Most people love how easy it is to maneuver, and the alloy steel blades stay sharp for a while. 

What you should consider: The handle isn’t as durable as other reel mowers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Greenworks 18-Inch Reel Lawnmower

Greenworks 18-Inch Reel Lawnmower

What you need to know: This features a wide cutting path and a built-in grass catcher.

What you’ll love: It’s easy to maneuver and has an ergonomic handle and a nine-position height adjustment. It’s easy to assemble and works well on damp grass.

What you should consider: The grass catcher doesn’t hold much grass.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Fiskars 17-Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawnmower

Fiskars 17-Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawnmower

What you need to know: This is one of the most-affordable Fiskars reel mowers.

What you’ll love: It’s easy to assemble and use. It’s durable and efficient, and you can adjust the cutting height from 1.5-3.5 inches. 

What you should consider: It isn’t as powerful as other Fiskars reel mowers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Scott's 16-Inch Walk-Behind Reel Lawn-Mower

Scott’s 16-Inch Walk-Behind Reel Lawn-Mower

What you need to know: It’s easy to use and features a straightforward design.

What you’ll love: Ideal for small yards, you can assemble this with no tools. The blades provide a clean cut. 

What you should consider: It isn’t as durable as other reel mowers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Reel mowers above $200 

Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Lawn Mower

Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Lawn Mower

What you need to know: This features a durable design and effectively cuts lawns.

What you’ll love: It’s easy to use and leaves you with a precise cut. It has an 18-inch cutting path and an adjustable handle. It’s also easy to assemble and adjust the blades.

What you should consider: It’s relatively expensive and heavy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

California Trimmer

California Trimmer 20-Inch Seven-Blade Honda Self-Propelled Reel Mower

What you need to know: This is one of the few gas-powered reel mowers available.

What you’ll love: It features 15 blade settings and a two-year limited warranty. It’s durable and has seven sharp blades. It’s self-propelled and easy to use.

What you should consider: It’s much more expensive than other reel mowers.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
 

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