Best Reel Mowers for Your Small Yard : A Buyer’s Guide + 5 Top Picks

Reel Mower Review - Why They're best for Small Lawns + 5 Really Good Reel push Mower Options For 2018.

Let’s agree on one thing…

Nothing is more serene and inviting like a lush green lawn. Not only does it improve the aesthetic factor of your home but it makes the whole place look great for taking photos or even relaxing with the family.

It is easy to have a well-manicured lawn if you've the perfect tools in place like the best reel mower that will help you deliver gentle, precise cuts.

We all want to have a beautiful, eye-catching lawn at home, right? But there's one small catch. We're not that handy or mechanical enough to know the best push mower on the marketplace.

And the experience of buying a one, always turn out to be worse and costing us money and time in the end. It is either you've a poorly manufactured motorless lawn mower, or you don't achieve the fine cuts.

But I won't let that experience happen to you. Not under my watch. That's why today, I want to go DEEP and EDUCATE you on the essential things:

  • A checklist you need to have before you buy a push mower
  • The best push mowers on the market (and why they are the best)
  • Why you need to buy a reel mower (even if you've a budget for a powered mower)

And many more questions at the end. Ready, let’s dive right in.

The Reel Difference (Why Should You Buy)

There two most questions I hear about lawn mowers are:

  • Why should I buy the manual reel mower?
  • Why don’t I just get the electric or gas-powered mower?

Today, I'll cover the first question, why should you buy a reel mower in the first place? In other words, how will they transform your lawn to the level of cutting you want?

Completely Free and Safe to Operate

Reel mower runs on clean energy. You don't need to oil or use electricity to operate them. A single push with a little bit of torque on your side is enough to spin the blades for precise cutting of the grass.

What's more, most reel mowers weigh around 20 to 35 pounds, which is enough weight to manoeuvre about with it without feeling like you're tired.

Secondly, they make a quick stop when you stop unlike most electrical or gas-powered mower that keeps on operating even after you've finished. Since it is light, they can be stored in the garage or even at the back of your car.

In other words, they don't take more spaces in your garage like the 100 lb. Electric or gas-powered mower. The absence of this engine makes them compact and more comfortable to store.  

Easier and Cheaper to Maintain

I love the convenience of owning a reel mower. I don't have to look for gas or worry power outages on a Saturday morning. All I need to do is to make sure that I have enough oil to make sure that the moving parts run smoothly.

No engine or spare parts that need periodic repair. A great thing to know is that you don't even have to check for oil leaks.

The only thing you're required to do is replace the blades, which is an operation you can carry out after every two years. Sometimes you can choose to sharpen the blades so that they are sharp for long-term use.

A Great Form of Aerobic Exercise to Burn Calories

Did you know that owning mowing your compound is an excellent form of aerobic exercise? I know it may sound like a bad thing for some, but using a reel mower relies heavily on your stamina and strength.

It is a good thing because you'll burn lots of calories as you push around mowing your yard. I see mowing as a great way of keeping your lawn well-manicured and keeping fit on a Saturday morning.

Budget-Friendly Compared to Gas or Electric Power Lawn

A manual reel mower is so compact and light in both functionality and performance. That means you won't spend much getting one in the market today.

The price of most of the gas or electric power lawn can make you cringe your face despite them emitting lots of emission and noise.

If you've a small lawn, you don't need to spend lots of money on a gas or electric powered lawn when you can go with a cheaper option. And you'll find it to be comfortable and simple to use.

Clean Precise and Scissor-Like Cut

It is the dream of every homeowner to have a clean, precise, and scissor-like cut. The bad news is that the level of precision rarely happens when you've a gas or electric lawn mower.

Picture it like butchering your grass leaving it with no nutrients for growth. Thanks to the reel mower, you can cut clean without affecting the health of your grass in your lawn.

You won't find a lawn mower clumping or sucking up your leaves only to leave them dry and susceptible to diseases. You've every reason to own a reel mower.

Environmentally Friendly

It is your duty to take care of the environment. What I love about using a reel mower is that it has no engine, which means that there is zero emission of gasses that pollutes the air. Gas-powered lawn mowers leave unhealthy dangerous fumes in the air which can affect your lungs during operations.

That's why you're always advised to have an air mask at all time when you're working with a gas-powered lawn mower.

Second, you also need an earplug because the noise it emits can make you deaf or impair your hearing judgment.

Thanks to the reel mower, you won’t have to worry about that. You even won’t have to incur the cost of earplugs or mask for work.

A Simple to Use Checklist for Choosing the Best Reel Mower

Anyone that has a bought a reel mower before will tell you that it is a quite a task. There are lots of reel mowers on the market today.

Some come with excellent features, others come with inadequate features and are marketed to be premium.

The good news is, I have developed a checklist for filtering out the chaff from the wheat. In other words, anything that does not pass the benchmark, you need to leave it.

To create an excellent checklist for you, there are some questions that you need to answer because they will guide.

Enough of the introduction, let’s dive right in.

Number of blades

Chances are, if you're buying a reel mower for the first time, you may be tempted to go with lots of blades without knowing the pros and cons for each. Let me explain.  

More blades mean more cutting more, but it could also say that you'll need lots of torque to maneuver and to get the blades spinning. Typically, most reel mowers have between 4 to 8 blades.

You'll benefit greatly from having more blades if you've thicker and tall grasses in your backyard because you'll achieve the precise cut you need. And you won't need to do many passes to have even cutting.

Fewer blades are great for short and thin grass. You'll maneuver fast and quick creating a precise and consistent cut in your lawn. Before you consider the number of blades, ask yourself the following the questions:

➔    Do you've a tall and thicker grass or short and thin grass?

➔    Do you've the stamina and strength required to operate the reel mower with lots of blades?

Understand your needs before considering the options available in the market.

Width and Size of The Mower

The standard cutting width of a reel mower ranges between 14 to 20 inches. A mower that's 20 inches wide cuts grass more quickly than a 14-inch mower.

That said, using a mower that's wider will need you to use extra strength to push and maneuver with it around. And expect a mower with a 20-inch width to weigh more than 40 pounds.

If you're comfortable moving around with such weight, then go for it. Likewise, if you go for a 14-inch mower, you'll have an easy time pushing it around.

Seriously, should you buy a mower with a wider mouth?

Not necessarily. Yes, it might make you cut grass more quickly, but it will cost you the time.

You'll struggle to maneuver around with it, which cuts on the time you'll spend on your lawn when you're using a 14-inch mower.

You'll end up using more energy. Alternatively, it will only work best for you if you're handy and can maneuver with it well. So, before you buy a mower with a large mouth, ask yourself:

Can you move around with 40 pounds of weight?

Adjustability

There are lots of manual reel mowers that come with several adjustable heights. The question is, do you need all that? Or, better when should you use reel mower with several adjustable heights and when should you not.

If this is still an issue, let me explain.

Ask any landscaping professional will tell you that the height of the grass needs to be more than ⅓ before you cut. Cutting your grass shorter makes it susceptible to diseases and weed invasions, which can lead to the death of grass in hot or dry weather.

You don't need to buy a mower with lots of height adjustments. On that note, you only need to have one that has four or five adjustable heights ranging from 1 to 4 inches. Rarely will you've grass growing past 8 inches and you never want to cut a grass that is ½ inch?

Silent Cut or Contact Mower: Which One for You?

Manual reel mower falls into two broad categories:

  • Silent cut mower
  • Contact mower

With silent cut mower, the blades rarely contact the bed knife, which makes them super quiet when you're mowing your lawn. In most cases, the silent cut mower is quiet than contact mower.

Alternatively, silent cut mowers require little effort to push around, and they provide high precision in cutting eliminating the need for cross-hatching or back lapping.

Apart from that silent cut rarely need spacing between the blades but will require you to sharpen the blades after 5 or more years to come.

Contact mower, on the other hand, doesn't have adjustable heights, but you'll need to sharpen the blades often. With contact mower, the blades are in contact with the bed knife, which means you're likely to hear some little noise.

But the noise is not that loud like what you'll find in a gas powered or electric power lawn mower. Unlike silent cut mower, contact mowers need back lapping once in a year.

Before you think of buying either a silent cut or contact mower, ask yourself these questions:

  • How quiet do you want the reel mower to be?
  • How often do you want to service your mower?

Those questions will help you decide if you need to go with a silent cut or contact cut mower.

Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower 2018

Check Fiskars StaySharp max Reel Mower Current Price on Amazon

It comes with an elongated design having both vertical and horizontal sides which makes it easier for you to push it around with little effort.

If you're a seasoned buyer of a reel mower, you'll notice that most of the previous model you've used have only one a horizontal handlebar.

The vertical side of the handlebar is ideal for cutting thick grass while the horizontal side of the handlebar gives you excellent traction when you want to cut short grass.

You and I know the electric and gas-powered mower are " a big pain" when it comes to maintenance. That said, the only maintenance you'll ever face with this mower is the periodic sharpening of the blades which you can do it once after every two years.

Besides that, other simple tasks won't eat your time like oiling and replacing some parts.

Let Me Show You Some Great News About Fiskars?

Budget-friendly. In other, word, you won’t break the bank owning this reel mower. Besides that, it competes well with other high-end reel mower having poor features. Trust me. This is a worthwhile investment you're making to manicure your lawns.

The Fiskars 18-inch Staysharp max reel relies on InertialDrive Reel technology and VersaCut to slash through thicker grass with excellent precision. It delivers more cutting power than the standard reel mower, which makes Fiskars a premium reel mower. 

Important Highlights for Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower

  • Weighs: 50 pounds
  • Cutting width: 18 inches
  • Height adjustment: 1-4 inches
  • Blades: StaySharp Cutting System which solves the problem of periodic cutting.

If the thought of waking up your neighbors on a Saturday morning makes you cringe about owning a reel mower. I have great news for you. The Garden 4023 is so quiet that your neighbor won't even hear mowing grass.

Still not convinced?

The five steel blades on the reel mower rarely make contacts with the cutting blades, and this has two advantages. 

First, there’s little to no noise, in fact, the only thing you'll hear is a whisper from the machine. Second, the cutting reel blades stay sharp than regular reel mowers.

Check Gardena 4023 15-Inch Silent Push Reel Mower Current Price on Amazon

That means you'll be able to cut and save time cutting your grass with a sharp reel mower.

If you've used most electric or gas mowers, you definitely, find yourself wearing earplugs most of the time because of the noise. Besides that, you're likely going to breathe carbon footprints.

With the Gardena 4023, you'll leave such concerns in the past because its quiet nature makes it excellent to do the work any time of the day without worrying about noises.

Did I Forget To Mention That It’s Durable?

Yes, it has five durable hardened blades with non-stick coating along with ground bottom blade. The beauty of this is to deliver precise clean and even cutting of the lawn.

Its weight is something that deserves mention. It weighs roughly 20 pounds and is so small enough to fit inside your car or any storage space you may have.

Like any other manual reel mower, I have, the Gardena has zero emissions. You can use it with confidence knowing that you're not hurting the environment.

The Gardena 4023 barely whispers thanks to its cutting reel not making contact with bed knife. Besides that, it features a durable non-stick coating which protects it against the rust.

Important Highlights for Gardena 4023 15-Inch Silent Push Reel Mower

  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Cutting width: 15-inch
  • Height adjustment: 1 to 2 ½ -inch
  • Blades: 5

The Great States Reel Mower 415-16 With Heat Treated Blades

Anytime I use the Great States reel mower in my backyard I Imagine the reel mechanism rotation. It works perfectly with the cutting blades leaving clean, precise, scissor-like cut.

Like any other manual reel mower, it takes time before you get used to it. The advantage of no gas refill, zero noise, and no carbon footprint is what makes it a significant investment.

The reel mower 415-16 is ideal for cutting short grasses. Otherwise, if you've more than 2.75 inches of grass, you'll have to use lots of pressure and make lots of passes to have even cutting.

Check The Great States Reel Mower 415-16 Current Price on Amazon

Most reel mower I have used in the past had the norm of not maintaining consistent cut. With Great States reel mower, this is not the case because it rarely bumps or jingles on uneven terrain leaving you with perfectly manicured lawn.

Weighing only 20 pounds, it is easier to think that it is heavy but, I was wrong at first. It's relatively easy to push around with little pressure and effort.

Let’s talk about its’ blades?

It features a cutting reel that has five blades mounted on a 4-spider ball, that means, you only need to give it a gentle push, and you've the cutting reel spinning.

The great States delivers gentle and scissor-like cut leaving you with a well-manicured lawn on a Saturday morning. Built on tempered-alloy steel to withstand to durability and test of time. Perfectly made to work on a small to medium-sized lawn.  

Important Highlights for ​The Great States Reel Mower 415-16

  • Weight: 26 pounds
  • Cutting width: 16-inch
  • Height adjustment: ½ to 2 ¾ inch
  • Blades: 4-spider, five blades 
  • Handle: T-handle

Earthwise 1715-16EW 7 Blades Push Reel Mower

The unique thing you'll love about this reel mower is the seven blades it has.

Let explain what that means?

Anytime you go to the market and see more blades on a reel; it means that the mower is capable of cutting the lawn fast.

In other words, the more blades it has, the more cutting power.

The second benefit, this is reel mower is perfect if you've thick or tall grass in your backyard.

With tall or thick grass, you're likely going to make a single or two passes to make your lawn even.

Check Earthwise 1715-16EW Current Price on Amazon

With that said, I am happy to report the reel mower works well with bentgrasses such as zoysiagrass, centipedegrass and St. Augustine grass, among others.

Despite having so many advantages, the Earthwise is not perfect for mowing wet and upright grass. I have tried, and my experience wasn't that great.

Apart from that, it has heat-treated alloy steel blades and solid steel plate along with a torsion bar, it a durable mower that will last you years to come.

Alternatively, you can easily adjust the height from 0.5 inches to 2.5 inches. Trust me on this. It is a terrific bargain for people looking for a durable reel mower.

The Earthwise 1715-16EW works efficiently to handle thicker and taller grass like St. Augustine, Seashore Paspalum, Bermuda, and Zoysia. Made from rugged steel side plate and tempered alloy steel for long-term performance and enhancing gentle premium cuts.  v

Important Highlights for Earthwise 1715-16EW

  • Weight: 26 pounds
  • Cutting width: 16-inch
  • Height adjustment: ½ to 2 ½ inch, 7 section rollers
  • Blades: 4-spider, five blades 
  • Handle: T-handle

American Lawn Mower 1415-16 Hand Push Reel Mower

Quick question if I may…. Do you've a small backyard and you're looking for a budget-friendly lawn mower?

Perfect!!! Because the American lawn mower 1415-16 is the right mower for you.

Let me walk you through the exciting features you'll find.

It comes with five hardened sharp steel blades that provide reliable cuts without much effort.

Look, the reel is mounted on a 4-spider ball bearing which makes it spin quickly with a single push with just a little bit of torque.

Check American Lawn Mower 1415-16 Current Price on Amazon

Because of its sharp blades, the lawn mower does an excellent job of cutting the grass in record time. If you've thick or tall grass in your yard, you'll have to make several passes with this lawn.

During the dawning operation, I noticed that the blade made slight contact giving it a little bit of whoosh sound.

Apart from that, you can adjust the cutting height of the reel from ½ inch to 1 ¾ inch. Overall, I love the compact design of the American lawn mower because it cuts my small yard to the precise level I want.

What's more, it is 16 inches wide, enough to cut all the areas fast and effective while at the same time never causing a problem when it comes to maneuvering.

The American Lawnmower is built on unbreakable steel side plates to deliver long-lasting years of work. The mower snips and cuts the grass with less emission and zero noise, leaving you with healthier and green lawn.

Important Highlights for American Lawn Mower 1415-16

  • Weight: 25 pounds
  • Cutting width: 16-inch
  • Height adjustment: ½ to 1 ¾ inch
  • Blades: 4-spider, five blades 
  • Handle: T-handle

How much is a push mower?

Push mower can cost anywhere from $50 to $200. The price of the mower will always depend on your financial situations.

Alternatively, never opt to buy the cheapest mower on the market because it'll cost you a lot in other areas. You may end purchasing a cheaply and poor manufactured mower that won't even deliver an excellent cut of your lawn. And it may cause to spend more time mowing your lawn to have fine cuts.

Buying expensive mower does not always translate to an excellent lawnmower. Always invest in a mid-price lawn that will not compromise on quality and savings.

How do reel mowers work?

Reel mowers have a collection of blades that spin manually when pushed forward. As you move forward, blades of grass fall between the blades and bed knife. It makes the mower to cut the grass in a scissor-like fashion.

The reel mowers are a great alternative to powered mowers because they have minimal maintenance and cost low. Before using a reel mower, the first thing that you'll always do is to adjust the cutting height between 1 ½ and 2 ½.

When you've set the height correctly, you'll move the mower forward at a walking pace to allow for the rotating blades and knife to do their work.  

You'll walk in a straight line from one end to other. You'll always do some passes if the place that you're cutting doesn't have even cuts.

How often do I need to mow with a reel mower?

It will depend on how fast the grass grows and the amount of rainfall in your area. If I lived in an area experiencing rain, I would always mow after 1 or 2 weeks. Keep in mind that if you want to grow a lush green mow, you must always cut the grass according to their growth.

Do I need a grass catcher for a reel mower?

It depends. If you want to have a healthy growing lawn, then it is advisable to leave the clippings on your lawn. Besides, they will dry and disappear in two days. Leaving the clippings is one way of recycling, which adds nutrients such as nitrogen into the lawn.

You only need to use a grass catcher under two conditions. If you discover your lawn has diseases, and want to prevent it from spreading to other areas. Two, when you want to make sure that your lawn is clean and well-maintained.

how often do the blades need sharpening?

If you're using a lawnmower to do household duties, you may need to sharpen after one year. But if you're a Professional Landscape Designer, you'll always do it every week.

Can you replace the Blade?

Yes, you can replace the blades. If your blades are dull or they butcher your grass making them susceptible to diseases leading to brown patches.

When in doubt about, always check your lawn after mowing. The presence of brown-tipped grass is a sign that you've a dull blade that needs replacement.

Conclusion (My thoughts)

Anyone that has a bought the best push mower in the past will tell you that they are obsessed with the smell of freshly cut grass on a Saturday morning. Not only does it soothe the heart but it elevates your outdoor living as well.

In other words, you get to spend more time with nature. A well-manicured lawn is the dream and pride of every homeowner. That dream is only possible if you've the best reel mower in the first place.

The good news is, this article gave your every information you need to select a manual reel mower that suits your need. You can now look forward to mowing your lawn every Saturday morning without disturbing your neighbors while they are sleep.

Trust me. You won't regret investing in a reel mower because apart from being a blogger, I have used these mowers as a commercial landscaper.

Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she attended University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture. She has supplemented her formal education by working on various organic farms, including spending a semester abroad in India.

Growing and/or raising just about anything gets her excited. She is especially passionate about environmental justice and low-tech, sustainable ways to better run small-scale farms and homesteads. Lindsey started Urban Organic Yield to discuss gardening tips and tactics.

Leave a Comment