Best Reel Mower Reviews of 2017

If you need help deciding which is the best reel mower you should buy hop on to my Top List below where I listed my top picks for this year. If you are still wondering whether you should buy this type of mower read All About Reel Mowers part that follows after the list. In any case, have fun with your new mower if you decide to buy one!

The Top List
ProductDescriptionMy ScorePrice
My Choice
Fiskars 18-Inch StaySharp Max Reel Mower Review

Fiskars 18-Inch StaySharp Max Reel Mower Review

All things considered, I think that it is a great reel mower. One thing that I will give this mower some extra credit for, is the fact that it did a pretty good job handling the hills in my yard, as well as some of the uneven terrain.

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Fiskars 17 Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower Review

Fiskars 17 Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower Review

Easy to assemble and adjust the height of the handle. Has sharp blades that cut great. Very well built. Easy to push. It just does the job. Period.

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Gardena 4023 15-Inch Reel Lawn Mower Review

Gardena 4023 15-Inch Reel Lawn Mower Review

I do think that this reel mower is a high-quality product. It's sturdy, well made and should last a lifetime. However, while it's a quality product, I'm not sure that it's worth its high cost. Especially considering its lack of features.

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Great States 415-16 16-Inch Reel Mower Review

Great States 415-16 16-Inch Reel Mower Review

It did a good job cutting ordinary grass, it didn't do as good of a job on tougher grasses or tall weeds. The scissor-like quality produces a beautiful cut but it also means that the blades are going to have to be sharpened more often. All in all a pretty decent reel mower.

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American Lawn Mower 1415-16 16-Inch Reel Mower Review

American Lawn Mower 1415-16 16-Inch Reel Mower Review

All things considered, I think this is a good mower. It's lightweight, well made and environmentally friendly. While it's not the best reel mower on my list, I think that under the right circumstances it could make someone really happy.

Read Users' reviews
All About Reel Mowers

When I was growing up it was my responsibility to mow our grass. It was something that had to be done every 2-weeks or else the grass would quickly overtake the house. And let me tell you, I wasn’t real fond of that job. Not because I hated having to cut the grass but because of the mower I was given to cut it with—a no-name reel mower that was hard to push and had blades that had to be oiled constantly. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best reel mower in the world and I cursed every day I had to use it. In fact, my experience with it was so bad I avoided these types of mowers for a long time, long time. Probably a lot longer than I should have.

The next time I used one of these mowers was many years later when I went over to my friend’s house and noticed that his tiny fenced-in front yard was a lot greener than his neighbor’s yards. When I asked him what his secret was, he replied that he owed his green grass to his reel mower. Puzzled, I asked him how using one of these mowers would make his grass greener. He then explained everything he knew about these type of manual mowers and I have to admit that my mind was pretty well blown right then and there. I just couldn’t believe that the type of mower that tortured me as a kid was something that someone would voluntarily use on their own lawn and that it would do such a good job cutting grass.

After I left my friend’s house, I then went out and did some research. I studied all of the brands on the market and looked over reel mower reviews like I was studying for a test. Eventually, I went out and bought the best reel mower I could find. And it turned out that the manual push mowers of today are nothing like the ones I used as a kid. They are better, easier to use and if used during the right circumstances, were really good pieces of lawn equipment to use. Which is why I decided to devote a whole article to them today. I want to dispel the myths and misconceptions that surround these lawn care tools.

Today, I’m going to tell you the benefits of using one of these manual mowers, as well as the drawbacks. I’m also going to tell you what features one of these mowers needs to have before it could be called best reel mower. However, before I do that, let me tell you the technical definition of a reel mower.

What Exactly is a Reel Mower?

Over the years, reel mowers have been called everything from hand mowers to human powered push mowers to manual mowers. Sometimes they are even called cylinder mowers. However, in reality, it really doesn’t matter what you call them. What’s important is to understand what exactly a reel mower is and how it works.

By its very definition, a reel mower is a mower that has between 3 and 7 blades that spin in a vertical fashion that is known by the experts as North to South blade movement. This creates a “scissor effect” in which the blades cut the grass much in the same way that a pair of scissors would cut ribbons of paper. This is in direct contrast to a rotary mower which uses a blade that spins like a helicopter and uses blunt force and the speed of the blades to cut the grass. Now that we understand the definition of the reel mower, we can now turn our attention to the Pros & Cons of using these types of mowers.

The Benefits of Using a Reel Mower

To show you the benefits of using a reel mower, I’ve compiled the following list. These are all of the things I like about these mowers and why I recommend some people to buy them for their lawn work.

  • Reel Mowers Are Cheaper

    One of the things I like the most about reel lawnmowers is they are generally cheaper than other lawnmower types. While riding mowers run in the thousands of dollars and gas-powered push mowers can cost hundreds of dollars, reel mowers usually cost between $74 and a $125 dollars—with the high-end models probably costing around $200. That makes them an economical choice, especially since you don’t need to buy gasoline to power them either.

  • They Don’t Pollute

    Another thing I really love about reel lawnmowers is they are environmentally friendly. Since it’s powered with human power instead of gasoline or electricity, these type of mowers don’t pollute the environment.

  • They’re Quiet

    Did you know that a gasoline-powered lawnmower can produce as much as 100 decibels of sound? That is about the same amount of noise as a Bell J-2A helicopter at 100-feet or a motorcycle. A reel lawnmower, on the other hand, produces almost no noise at all.

  • They are Safer Than Conventional Lawnmowers

    Reel mowers are safer than most other types of mowers. More than 80,000 Americans go to the emergency room each year due to lawnmower accidents. While modern gas and electric mowers have safety features that lessen the chance of operator injury, people still manage to get injured by using them carelessly. Reel mowers are much safer to operate and using them results in far fewer injuries.

  • They Are Simpler To Operate

    Modern gasoline and electric mowers have a lot of moving parts. This means that they not only require more maintenance than reel mowers but it also means they have a greater chance of breaking down. Push reel mowers are much simpler, however. You don’t need to prime an engine, add 2-cycle motor oil or pull a string to start it. And you certainly don’t have to worry about drive trains breaking down, replacing spark plugs or fixing a broken carburetor. All you have to do is keep the blades sharp and maybe oil it once in awhile.

  • They Keep Your Grass Healthier

    Push reel mowers aren’t as hard on your grass as gas-powered or electric ones. As I said before, they use a scissor-like action that gently cuts the blades of grass. Ordinary mowers chop and tear the individual blades of grass, which can lead to the grass losing moisture and being more vulnerable to disease and insects. After I used a push real lawnmower for awhile, however, I noticed that my grass was healthier and greener.

The Disadvantages of Using a Reel Mower

Even the greatest inventions on the planet have their drawbacks and aren’t meant to be used in some situations. And that’s no different for reel mowers than for anything else. Below are some of the things I don’t like about reel mower and some of the situations in which they shouldn’t be used.

  • It’s Not Always Easy

    One of the things I don’t like about reel mowers is that sometimes they can be a pain to use. Not only do they require physical effort, but there are occasions when they require quite a bit of it. Especially if you don’t have a small yard and have to make several passes to get that one patch of grass your mower missed.

  • Sticks & Stones Can Be Challenging

    It can get really frustrating when you have to stop every two seconds to pick up a stone or a stick that gets lodged in your reel mower. With gas-powered lawnmowers, the high spinning blades will just spit these things out at high-speed—which can be dangerous but doesn’t prevent you from finishing your mowing. With reel mowers, however, you have to clear all the debris that could potentially keep the blades from spinning.

  • Doesn’t Work Well in Some Scenarios

    If you have a large yard, then you probably won’t want to use a reel mower. And if you do have a smaller yard, you will want to make sure that you keep up on your mowing chores. That’s because reel mowers have a real hard time with tall grass, so you have to make sure you’re on top of things.

  • May Result in Additional Trimming Work

    One thing that I’ve noticed about these mowers is they don’t do a real good job at trimming or edging. In fact, they do a pretty poor job. If you use a reel mower, then you are probably going to have to hit the edges of your lawn with your favorite weed wacker or edger. Of course, if you aren’t too concerned about keeping a neat border, then this may not be a problem for you.

How to Find the Best Reel Mower

If you’re anything like me, then you probably dread having to pour over countless reel mower reviews just to find the right one for you and your yard. However, it doesn’t have to be the pain you think it’s going to be. Especially if you take some time to consider the features you want before you check out the reel mower reviews. Below are just some reel mower features you’re going to want to consider:

  • Lawnmower Width

    As is the case with a gas or electric mower, the wider your reel mower is the faster your mowing will go. Generally speaking, most reel mowers have a width from 14-inches to 20-inches. How wide of a mower really depends on you, but please keep in mind that a 14-inch mower cuts a lawn 30% slower than a 20-inch mower.

  • Number of Blades

    Another thing to consider is the number of blades. Most reel mowers come with anywhere from 4 to 8 blades. 4-blade mowers are generally good for really thin grasses such as Fine Fescue. 5-blade mowers are good for finer grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass or Rye Grass and 7-blade mowers are good for heavier grasses such as St. Augustine or Bahia grasses.

  • Additional Features

    You’ll also want to figure out any additional features you want your reel mower to have. For example, many reel mowers now have grass catchers. Other features you may find on these type of lawnmowers include varying degrees of high-adjustments, cushioned handlebars and bigger wheel sizes. The importance of these features is up to you to decide. Some people want them and other people are fine with just a basic reel lawnmower.

Conclusion

Well, this concludes my article on reel mowers. In this article, we’ve discussed the Pros & Cons of these mowers and what to look for when you buy one of the simple lawn tools. Hopefully, this article has enlightened you to the benefits that these type of mowers can offer and help dispel the myths that reel mowers are slow, tedious machines to operate. Because they aren’t. If they are used properly and used on the right kind of yard, they can be invaluable lawn cutting tools that will keep your grass healthier and greener than just about any other type of mower.
My Reel Mower Reviews

The Fiskars 18-Inch StaySharp Max Reel Mower is a reel mower that has a reversible grass chute that can be set up to either direct the grass clippings forward or direct them backward—depending on your preference. It also has inset wheels that allow the blades to extend across the full 18-inches of this mower’s cutting width, allowing for better edging. And its height can be easily adjusted from 1-inches to 4-inches. This reel mower also has precision ground blades that are supposed to stay sharper longer and a chain drive system that’s supposed to make it much easier to push than conventional reel mowers. All nice features but what really matters is how well it cuts the grass.

Out of the box, this mower was fairly easy to assemble. I would say it was only a few minutes before I had it all assembled and was ready to tackle the job of mowing my lawn. So I took it outside and starting mowing with it. My first impression was that it was really easy to push and that the blades didn’t grind against the casing like some reel mowers do so it didn’t make that scraping sound. I also noticed that I could get pretty close to the driveway in my front yard. While no one will ever mistake this mower as an edger, it does come as close to edging as I have ever seen a reel mower do.

Pushing this mower around my yards, I noticed that it cut the grass very well. Even though I have a side yard that contains an impressive mix of grasses, it still managed to cut all of them quite well. The only thing it really had problems with are tall, thin weeds. You know the type I’m talking about. This mower just kind of pushed them over and I had to go cut these lone lawn survivors down with my weed whacker. It’s not a big deal but something that does need to be mentioned.

One thing that I will give this mower some extra credit for, is the fact that it did a pretty good job handling the hills in my yard, as well as some of the uneven terrain. All things considered, I think that it is a great reel mower, but I did spend a little more than I would’ve liked to have spent on it.

9.2 Total Score
Bottom Line

All things considered, I think that it is a great reel mower. One thing that I will give this mower some extra credit for, is the fact that it did a pretty good job handling the hills in my yard, as well as some of the uneven terrain.

Performance
9
Features
10
Ease of Use
9
Value
8
Quality
10
PROS
  • Easy to assemble
  • Sharp blades
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Inset wheels provide better edging
  • Reversible grass chute
  • Quiet
CONS
  • Slightly expensive for a reel mower
  • May have difficulty with tall, thin weeds
  • Not suitable for large yards
User Rating: No Ratings Yet!

Today, I’m going to review the Fiskars 17-Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower. While I don’t usually use reel mowers very much, at least not on a week to week basis, I have used them enough to have some familiarity with them. So let’s not waste any more time; let’s jump right into this review.

When I received the mower, I took it out of the box. It did require a few tools to put together, but that wasn’t a big deal. I was able to assemble it in a few minutes and was ready to mow. I then proceeded to put it work on my property and that’s when I got a good feel for how this thing operates.

One of the first things I noticed was that it was pretty quiet. Some of the reel mowers I’ve used in the past made sort of a scraping sound and this one didn’t. It wasn’t as quiet as some of the electric mowers I’ve used recently, but it’s still quieter than most of the reel mower I’ve used in the past.

Trying to cut my property, however, I ran into a few hiccups with the Fiskars 17-Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower. First, I realized that there was no way I would be able to use this mower to cut my grass. And there are a couple of reasons for that. One, my property is way too big. Reel mowers are really made for smaller yards that are a ½ acre of smaller, especially ones with this cutting width. Two, my property has a lot of hilly areas with a lot of maneuvering that has to be done to ensure that it’s cut. Three, there was some tall grasses on my property that frankly, this mower couldn’t cut. It would just push it down. It’s really meant for grass that hasn’t gotten too high or isn’t full of a lot of tall dandelions.

However, I still wanted to get an accurate review of this thing, so I packed it up and took it over to my friend’s house to accurately assess it. My friend has a nice little house with a smaller fenced yard that had some nice Zoysia grass growing – grass that wasn’t short but wasn’t too high either. Just perfect to test this reel mower out on.

This mower has some really nice blades that seem to be to be thicker than other reel mowers. I easily pushed the mower around the yard and I noticed that it did a really good job of cutting the grass. Instead of basically tearing the grass, like so many electric and gas mowers do (especially ones with dull blades), this mower cut them nice and evenly. Kind of like the grass had been cut with a pair of scissors.  Now I see why so many people choose reel mowers. This one really does a delicate job of cutting the grass.

This reel mower was also fairly easy to push and did manage to power over the twig or two that I came across. And it is more environmentally friendly than a gas mower. After all, it requires no spark plug, gas, oil, filters or belts. Which also means that it is cheaper and easier to maintain than a conventional mower as well.

Overall, I think that if you use the Fiskars 17-Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower in the way it was intended to be used, with a flat, smaller-size yard that can be cut in straight lines, then this mower is probably a good choice.

9 Total Score
Bottom Line

Easy to assemble and adjust the height of the handle. Has sharp blades that cut great. Very well built. Easy to push. It just does the job. Period.

Performance
8
Features
9
Ease of Use
9
Value
9
Quality
10
PROS
  • Easy to assemble
  • Sharp blades
  • Easier to push than some other reel mowers
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Is cheaper to run than a gas mower
CONS
  • Not for large yards
  • Not for bumpy, hilly or uneven yards
  • May have difficulty with tall grass
User Rating: No Ratings Yet!

The Gardena 4023 15-Inch Reel Lawn Mower is a cylinder mower that has a classic design. In fact, it kind of reminds me of the old Worchester reel mowers from the 1940s, except the handle on the Gardena is shaped differently and is much more colorful. Of course, it is also a more modern cylinder mower that features a 15-inch cutting width and has high-quality steel blades. The one I bought also came with a pretty big price tag, so I decided to put it to the test and see what made it so costly.

When I first unboxed this mower, I noticed that it was very easy to assemble. In fact, there wasn’t much to it. In only a matter of moments, I was set up and ready to take this mower out on her maiden mowing. And that is when I learned some very interesting things out about this mower. For instance, I learned that it was very quiet. I could barely hear a sound as I pushed it around my yard. This is due to the no-contact blades. Another thing I noticed is that this mower is pretty light; It was even light for a push reel mower. Which makes it perfect for just about anyone to use.

Of course, nothing is without its flaws and the Gardena 4023 is no exception. While it did a pretty good job cutting most of my grass, it did struggle with some of the tougher grasses in my yard. On those grasses, I had to take 2, or sometimes 3, passes to get it all cut. It also seemed to refuse to cut tall weeds. For those, I had to break out my weed whacker. And as far as the edges of my lawn—well, it certainly isn’t an edger and doesn’t pretend to be. The blades don’t get close enough to the edge. For that, I had to break out my edger to give the lawn the nice clean look I prefer. When I was done with this mower, it was easy to store and put away. All I had to do was loosen the handles and it folded up nice and neat. And since it was so light, I could easily carry it to my shed and put it away.

I do think that this reel mower is a high-quality product. It’s sturdy, well made and should last a lifetime. However, while it’s a quality product, I’m not sure that it’s worth its high cost. Especially considering its lack of features. I suppose that will be something that each individual will have to decide for themselves. Personally, I think there are better cylinder mowers out there for a more reasonable price.

8.2 Total Score
Bottom Line

I do think that this reel mower is a high-quality product. It's sturdy, well made and should last a lifetime. However, while it's a quality product, I'm not sure that it's worth its high cost. Especially considering its lack of features.

Performance
7
Features
8
Ease of Use
9
Value
7
Quality
10
PROS
  • Easy to assemble
  • Easy to store
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Quiet
CONS
  • Was very expensive for a reel mower
  • Not suitable for large yards
  • Doesn't get close to edges
  • Not suitable for tough or tall grasses or weeds
User Rating: No Ratings Yet!

The Great States 415-16 is a push reel mower with a 16-inch cutting deck, a T-style handle, and sharp heat treated blades. Great States also makes different variations of this reel mower with slightly different configurations and blade widths. For example, the 304-14 also comes with a T-style handle but only has a 14-inch cutting deck. The 815-18 comes with an 18-inch cutting deck but with a conventional handle. However, the push reel mower in this review is the Great States 415-16.

When I unpacked this mower, I realized that it was not only easy to put together but also fairly lightweight. Within a few moments, I had it all assembled and was ready to begin mowing. It was when I got it out into the yard though that I really learned a lot about this mower. And one thing that I learned was that it was a high-quality product that seemed to be manufactured with pride. Everything seemed durable and should last the user for quite a long time, if they treat it with care. It has a handle with a powder coated finish, heat treated blades, and ball bearing 10-inch wheels. It looks and feels very durable.

How well the mower cuts grass is the real test of whether it’s worth its salt or not, so I put it right to work. I soon found out that while it did a good job cutting ordinary grass, it didn’t do as good of a job on tougher grasses or tall weeds. For those type of grasses and weeds, I either had to take a second pass at them or I had to use my weed whacker on the stray weeds. Another problem I encountered with this mower is the fact that the wheels are wider than the blades—which means that it doesn’t get close to edges or fence lines.

The last thing that I noticed about this mower is that the blades are mounted on a standard cutting system. This means that the blades make contact with the rear cutting blade to cut the grass. This scissor-like quality produces a beautiful cut but it also means that the blades are going to have to be sharpened more often. That’s not a big deal to me but it may be for someone who doesn’t want to have to sharpen the blades more than once a year.

8 Total Score
Bottom Line

It did a good job cutting ordinary grass, it didn't do as good of a job on tougher grasses or tall weeds. The scissor-like quality produces a beautiful cut but it also means that the blades are going to have to be sharpened more often. All in all a pretty decent reel mower.

Performance
8
Features
8
Ease of Use
8
Value
8
Quality
8
PROS
  • Easy to assemble
  • Good quality
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Lightweight
CONS
  • Not suitable for large yards
  • Doesn't get close to edges
  • Not suitable for tough or tall grasses
  • Blades may need to be sharpened more often
User Rating: No Ratings Yet!

The American Lawn Mower 1415-16 is a push reel mower that has a 16-inch cutting width, a 4 spider and 5 blade ball bearing reel system and 10-inch composite wheels with radial tire tread on them. It’s a mower made by a company that has also produced other good manual push mowers such as the 1204-14 and 1304-14 with 14-inch blade widths and the 1815-18 with 18-inch blade widths. The American Lawn Mower 1415-16 is similar to these other mowers but with its own set of specs. Let’s check it out

After taking a few moments to put it together, I took it out into the yard to see what it could do. The first thing I noticed was that it’s 4-spider 5 blade ball bearing reel system spun really quickly with just a little bit of a push. It produced good effort for just a little bit of torque. And it did do a fine job cutting grass, as long as the grass wasn’t too thick or too tall. With extremely thick grasses, I had to make several passes with this mower. With tall grasses, I also had to make additional passes to get it cut. However, it would eventually cut these tough or tall grasses.

I also noticed that the blades made slight contact with the bed knife blade. This not only gave it a little bit of a whoosh sound, but it also cuts blades of grass in much the same way a pair of scissors would. Which delivers a great cut to most grasses, as long as they aren’t too tough or tall as I said earlier. However, it also means that you will probably have to sharpen your blades more often than systems that use blades that don’t make contact with one another. And since the wheels are wider than the blades, this mower also doesn’t get close to fence lines or edges.

All things considered, I think this is a good mower. It’s lightweight, well made and environmentally friendly. While it’s not the best reel mower on my list, I think that under the right circumstances it could make someone really happy. Is this the right mower for you? The only thing I can tell you is that is up to you to determine if this mower is best for your particular lawn.

8 Total Score
Bottom Line

All things considered, I think this is a good mower. It's lightweight, well made and environmentally friendly. While it's not the best reel mower on my list, I think that under the right circumstances it could make someone really happy.

Performance
8
Features
8
Ease of Use
8
Value
8
Quality
8
PROS
  • Easy to assemble
  • Well made
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Lightweight
CONS
  • Not suitable for large yards
  • Doesn't get close to edges
  • Not suitable for tough or tall grasses or weeds
  • Blades may need to be sharpened more often
User Rating: No Ratings Yet!