Best Reel Lawn Mower 2018

With everything from robot mowers to incredible push mowers, you would probably be surprised to find out you can still purchase reel lawn mowers. Who the heck would use a reel push lawn mower in this day and age when convenience, speed and technology are the name of the game?

Believe it or not, there are many people who uses them, including us. There are several advantages to using push reel lawn mowers – they’re cost effective, require no fuel, leave a carbon footprint of zero, and are the perfect choice for those with smaller lawns who don’t want to use a high-powered and noisy mower. Also there’s very little that can go wrong with a reel mower; and if it does, it’s quick, easy and inexpensive to repair.

They’re easy to assemble, clean and store and while some people think they should be relegated to a display cabinet in a history museum we love their old world charm and how well they actually work. 

Our Take On The Best Reel Lawn Mowers 2018

Before we dig into the reel lawn mower reviews, we just wanted to include a table first to give you an overview of the products that we have chosen. So without any further ado, here are the top 5 reel lawn mowers of 2018

ProductCutting HeightWeight
American Lawn Mower 1204-14 Hand Reel 14 Inch Push Lawn Mower1/2 to 1-1/2-inches19 lbs
Fiskars 17 Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower (6208)1.5 to 3.5-inches N/A
Gardena 4020 12-Inch Silent Push Reel Lawn Mower 300 N/A17.64 lbs
Great States 415-16 16-Inch Standard Full Feature Push Reel Lawn Mower With T-Style Handle And Heat Treated Blades1/2-inch to 2-3/4-inches25.38 lbs
Brill 78371 Razorcut 38 15-Inch Reel Push Lawn Mower0.7 inches to 1.8 inches18 lbs

So now that you know our recommendations, take a look at our best reel lawn mower options down below.

1

American Lawn Mower 1204-14 Hand Reel 14 Inch Push Lawn Mower

best reel mower 2017

The American Lawn Mower 1204-14 has a 14-inch deck that can handle most grass types efficiently. It is a well-designed mower with durable parts, and like most of the mowers in this category they’re environmentally friendly, fuel efficient and quiet. It also has some notable features, including its three spider reel assembly and its high impact wheels that make cutting the lawn a breeze. The 1204-14 is lightweight and easy for anyone to use and it stores away easily.

The cutting blade is only 14 inches wide, which means it won’t manage average sized lawns well; however, smaller lawns will be a pleasure to maintain. It is a great reel mower overall, but we need to mention that it doesn’t have a lot of height adjustment options and it doesn’t handle wet grass well at all.

It’s worth getting even if you have an electric powered mower, especially for those little patches or areas where your grass and gas guzzling can’t reach.

All in all this is a compact and lightweight mower that gives a neat and precise cut. The American Lawn Mower Deluxe Hand Reel Mower is ideal for smaller gardens that don’t need a gas or electric mower and with 14 inches of cutting width and a height adjustment of .5 to 1.5 inches it is a great little performer.

2

Fiskars 6208 17 Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower

best reel mower 2017

The Fiskars 6208 is probably one of the best reel lawn mowers around. It offers convenience and performance without breaking the bank. The ergonomic design of the handle, the unique cutting system and the cutting reel that has five high quality steel blades all comes together to give you a reel mower that is comfortable and easy to use and delivers a professional looking lawn time and again.

While it is easier to push than other mowers, it also has far more cutting power than most. But there is an issue or two worth mentioning – it is on the heavier side so it’s not suited to people who don’t have the physical strength and it doesn’t handle slopes well. Also, because of its weight it’s not great for larger lawns.

This mower has enough features for us to overlook its limitations – the back wheels assists well with balance and steering, the handle that can be adjusted and an integrated lifting handle. While it can’t cut grass taller than six inches, it is still easy to push and maneuver even with it being on the slightly heavier side.

3

Gardena 4020 12-Inch Silent Push Reel Lawn Mower 300

best reel mower 2017

We really like the Gardena 4020 12-Inch Silent Push Reel Lawn Mower 300D. It has been designed with a lot of care and thought behind it. Assembly is easy and intuitive using wing nuts, which means you don’t need any other tools and the cutting height can be adjusted by turning two screws, with your hands, on either side of the mower. As far as the cutting height goes, it can be adjusted between 0.5 and 1.65 inches so if you prefer longer grass, it isn’t the reel mower for you.

The steel cutting blade reel has a non-stick coat. It is recommended to clean the mower every time you use it, and to also spray it with a lubricant. The mower weighs around 20 pounds and unlike a lot of the reel mowers, the Gardena has a grass catcher that is sold separately.

With this particular mower, you’re already getting a good quality piece of equipment.On top of that, it still comes with a 12 month warranty that includes free parts and labor. If by some small chance there is a problem after this period, there is a repair service that can assist with a free price estimate.

4

Great States 415-16 16-Inch Standard Full Feature Push Reel Lawn Mower with T-Style Handle and Heat Treated Blades

best reel mower 2017

Great States has been in business since 1895 so you know you’re dealing with a trusted name in the industry. The Great States 415-16 is a very simple reel lawn mower, which is what we like about it. It’s durable and solid, and it does a very good job with the least amount of fuss. The 16-inch wide, five blade reel won’t need any sharpening for years, and it has a cutting height that can adjust from 0.5 inches up to 2-3/4 inches. The only negative as far as we’re concerned is that it’s not easy to adjust the blade; you need to use a screwdriver and socket wrench to take it apart and reset the height – if you plan on changing the cutting height often then we wouldn’t recommend this particular mower.

There are a few additional features that make the Great States mower a pleasure to use, from the ball-bearings on the wheels for a smooth ride, flared handles with foam grips and a small shrub bar on top of the mower, which will stop you trimming low hanging branches by accident.

We think the mower is a little heavy, weighing in at 25.4 pounds, so it’s not suited to everyone. Great States has a one-year warranty but they recommend you look after the mower with regular applications of WD-40 or some other lubricant to the blades, wheels and axle.

5

Brill 78371 Razorcut 38 15-Inch Reel Push Lawn Mower

best reel mower 2017

You might be surprised to see a Brill on our list. It’s not one of the first products that come to mind, especially given there are more ‘popular’ brands around like Scotts, Fiskars and Great States. But the Brill Razorcut is a bit of an undiscovered diamond.

It’s designed for small to medium gardens and has a cutting width of 15.2 inches. It has 8 inch wheels and, even though it might seem a bit strange, a lot of the components of this mower are made out of plastic. However, it doesn’t affect the quality of the reel mower and instead keeps it at a manageable weight for those people who don’t like anything too heavy. Weighing in at only 17 pounds, this is a great little mower for anyone to push around. The Brill Razorcut 38 can cut up to 1.8 inches high, while the minimum cutting height is 0.7 inches. There are hand knobs on either side to adjust the cutting height making it easy to adjust.

This is an unexpected item to have on our list, but definitely worth taking a look at. It’s well-priced, hard-working, and solid – it won’t let you down.

A reel lawn mower has both its pros and cons. We have them all listed down below, so feel free to think about it and see if a reel lawn mower is something for you.

PROS
  • Eco-friendly – it doesn’t make a noise, there are no fumes, no odors, no emissions
  • Maintenance is easy – needs sharpening every few years and lubricating
  • Low running costs – very low costs for long-term maintenance and no refueling necessary
  • Excellent results – lawn is left looking neatly manicured
  • Great way to get some fresh air and exercise
  • Cost effective way to keep your lawn neat and tidy
  • Easy to clean and store
CONS
  • Not suitable for lawns bigger than an acre
  • Very few reel push mowers have a bagging feature
  • It can’t reach edges along fences or other obstacles – you will probably need a trimmer
  • Reel mowers can’t cut grass over 4 inches; you would need to cut it with a power mower first

Best Reel Lawn Mower - Buyer's Guide

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.

Cutting Length

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.

Resistance

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.

Mechanical Jams

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.

Storage

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.

Hassle-free

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.

Cost-effective

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.

Exercise

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.

Safer

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.

Conclusion


Do yourself, the environment, and the neighbors a favor and look at getting a push reel lawn mower. There are just too many advantages that outweigh the cons to not have one of these in your arsenal of garden equipment. Your lawn will look healthier with it, and so will you. You can encourage your kids to do some character-building chores – maybe even earning some pocket-money.

However – and it might seem strange to mention this –  you must remember, a reel mower isn’t a direct replacement for a gas or electrical mower. A reel mower, depending on the size of your garden, can be an additional tool to keeping your lawn maintained or, if your lawn is compact enough you might need a reel mower and a hedge trimmer. While a reel mower requires very little maintenance and upkeep, your lawn might need more mowing and you will need to keep a schedule. And as it is with human nature, there might be days you just don’t feel like doing it or there might be a really good sporting weekend happening, keeping you in front of the TV rather than behind a mower.

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