How we tested and reviewed the reel lawn mowers
In order for us to give you our best reel lawn mower picks, we used the same judging criteria across all of them. These are what we consider important features to look at when you’re deciding on a mower for you.
Easy of assembly
All the mowers featured need some kind of assembly. We looked at how long it took to put each one together, how many components were included in the packaging and whether the manual was user-friendly. We also took into account if you would be able to put it together using only your hands or of any tools were needed, and if so were they tools most people would have around the house. The average time to assemble each of the reel mowers was around 14 minutes, which we don’t think is too bad.
Something else we think is an important factor when choosing a reel mower is its cutting length. You need to know how long or short you can cut your lawn and if it is easy enough to adjust the cutting height. Some of the mowers can cut grass as short as half an inch while others can leave the grass as long as four inches. We found the best reel lawn mowers had a cutting range of three inches or so and are easy to adjust using a knob or lever.
Surprisingly the reel push mowers were easy to push around the garden. There were patches of resistance, where the grass was thicker than expected but that is normal. If however you notice there is a lot of resistance that you can’t manage on your own it might be the height of the cut needs to be adjusted. If it doesn’t improve it could be the mower is too heavy for you.
We noticed that reel lawn mowers jam up quite a bit and while it’s not the end of the world it can be a little annoying. To prevent the jamming, or at least minimize it, you could remove any obvious obstacles beforehand, especially given it’s a small area or you can simply prepare yourself with the knowledge it is going to jam.
Safe for Children
This might seem like a bit of an odd one to have on the list, but there is a chance you have children and mowing the lawn is one of their chores. The heavier mowers aren’t suitable for children but the light ones that can be pushed easily are fine. Generally reel lawn mowers are safer than others but be sure to read the safety guidelines and make sure there is an adult supervising younger children at all times.
As with any piece of garden equipment, how and where you store it will determine how long it lasts and well it continues to work. All the mowers have specific storage instructions, which need to be adhered to. Some of the lighter ones can be hung from a peg board, but the heavier ones need to stay on the floor. Make sure it’s covered and protected from rain, damp and any other elements to prevent it from rusting.
As a side note, push mowers won’t work well on a lawn that is overgrown or very unkempt. Before you start pushing your mower, you need to clear away any debris, like rocks, sticks, toys, dog bones, etc. and keep in mind that very few of the reel mowers can cut grass over 6 inches long.
How does a reel lawn mower work?
The very first time we saw a reel lawn mower, we did wonder how well such a primitive looking piece of equipment could work. But on closer inspection we saw the “science” behind it is in fact pretty simple, which is exactly what makes it so efficient.
Two wheels on either side turn when the mower is pushed; on the axle a pinion gear with teeth turns in time with the wheels. That gear makes another gear on the blade reel turn and the blade wheel turns faster than the mower wheels. While this is happening the blade wheel circles around, pushing the blades of grass against the fixed cutting bar, which cuts the grass. It’s as easy as that.
You might be surprised to know that a yard that would take 20 minutes to cut with a powered mower will probably take about 30 minutes with a reel mower. When you think about it, ten minutes isn’t that much of a difference, especially when you look at the difference in costs and maintenance like gas, oil changes and constant tune-ups.
Need more reasons?
We’re not sure if we’ve managed to convince you when it comes to a push reel mower, but we can tell you, from our experience, there is something incredibly back-to-basics using a manual mower instead of a plug-in. With everyone trying to find new ways to slow down and smell the roses, or cut grass, a reel mower will take you back to a time when things were uncomplicated, and everything just worked.
Push reel mowers are simple to use, and completely hassle-free. You push it, the blades spin and the grass gets cut. That’s it. You’re not running around looking for plug points, pulling starter cords or filling up with gas. With a reel mower you start walking and you immediately see the fruits of your labor.
You don’t ever have to buy oil, gas or spark plugs again and the only maintenance will be sharpening the blades, and with some of them even that only needs to be done every 8-10 years.
Let’s face it, push reel mowers are cheap. Even the top-of-the-line reel mower costs less than most powered mowers and a lot of the smaller ones come in under $100. There are no maintenance costs, you don’t have to buy gas and any repairs can be done by you, or very cost effectively by a professional.
We’re a nation that doesn’t have time for anything, especially not exercise, so why not get a piece of equipment that mows the lawn and gives you a good cardio workout. There’s no easy way to get around the reel mower; there’s no auto drive buttons or an engine to make it easier. The mower is relying on your power, not horse power, to get the job done.
We can almost guarantee that after the first few minutes, you’ll enjoy the fresh air and the exercise, and your body will thank you too.
Even though they may come with safety warnings reel mowers are safer than power lawn mowers. More than 75 000 Americans are injured annually in lawn mower accidents, with 10 000 of them being children. Push reel mowers are safer for a number of reasons, while a powered mower is an accident waiting to happen, from being electrocuted, to shooting objects and blades going over toes. If not used with extreme caution, a power mower could be featured on the TV show “1000 Ways To Die”. A push reel mower, not so much. While there are some dangers associated with them there is no way they’re anywhere near as dangerous.
Reel mowers really do make mowing the lawn a pleasure. Believe it or not it can be a form of relaxation and a way to just be once a week. Unlike when we were kids and we mowed the lawn because we had to, we now do it because we actually really enjoy it.