The 9 Best Reel Mowers of 2023, Reviewed. Which Is the Best Reel Mower for Your Lawn?
You don’t have to fuss around brown patches, fungus, and insect infestation. These best reel mowers snip overgrown grass like a pair of scissors for a clean, healthy, and professionally manicured lawn. And all it takes is your strength – no electricity, no gas, no noisy motor, and no harmful emissions.
You can even put your leveling project permanently on hold because there’s one option made for the sloping, uneven, and rough terrains!
Here are the nine best reel mower models for a healthier, cleaner, and professionally manicured lawn.
Best Reel Lawn Mower Reviews
We’ve gone through hundreds of manual lawn mowers, so you don’t have to.
Check out our review round-up for the nine best reels mowers. Plus, read about how to choose a reel lawn mower that best caters to your lawn needs.
Great States Push Reel Lawn Mower – Best Overall
First off, we have the best overall reel mower. The Great States Push Mower is the perfect balance of cutting width, easy steering, and multiple adjustments.
The 5-blade reel has a 16-inch cutting width, making it suitable for small lawns with all types of grass. The lower blade count means it can cut taller grass more efficiently. The medium cutting width is just right for optimal steering. It’s not too narrow that you spend more time going through your lawn. But it’s not too wide that it’s hard to move around.
The weight is in the sweet spot too. At 25 pounds, it’s light enough to carry but heavy enough to keep the blades close to the ground. It’s great for uneven patches because more lightweight mowers will just bump off on impact. The added weight lets the mower hug the ground for a better cut.
You can also do a lot of fine-tuning for the wheels, rollers, and blades. It is excellent for expert lawn keepers that want a precise cut every single time. The roller adjustments are great for getting that coveted striped look on your simple yard.
Unlike the other mowers, this has a broader cutting length range. You can go as low as 0.5 inches for an ultra-tight look or a more lush and comfy height of 2.5 inches.
With all the adjustments available, this mower is for everyone. Beginners can use it straight out of the box with easy assembly. Advanced users can play around with the different levels of each component. The Great States Push mower works for any grass type and is still budget-friendly.
Sun Joe MJ501M Manual Reel Mower With Grass Catcher – Budget Pick
- Wheel size: 10″ front, 6″ rear
- Cutting width: 18″
- Blade count: 5
- Handle style: Loop
The Sun Joe MJ501M is the reel mower that you get the most out of your buck. Yes, it sounds super fancy. And for the price, it looks fancy too!
But this push reel mower has more to it than its looks. You get a wide cutting width, 4-wheel operation, and fine height adjustment. All packed with a 7-gallon grass cutter.
With all that, you can cut more grass per pass. And you can do it easily thanks to the added back wheels. You can even catch most lawn clippings (some are bound to fly out of basket range). And then use it for mulching or your chicken’s snack.
The reel mower has five blades that cut between 1.6 to 2.6 inches. It’s not the shortest range, but it’s perfect for backyard turf. The grass stays comfy enough to step on, but not long too long that the grass blades are droopy.
Within that sweet spot range, you can adjust the height in 9 levels so you can fine-tune your cuttings. That makes for a cleaner, more precise look for your yard.
A drawback here is the spacing between the wheels and the blade. There’s a significant gap, so you need to overlap your next lane with the previous one. But that doesn’t cheat you out of the 18-inch cutting width. So even with the overlap, you’re still cutting wider lanes of grass.
This reel mower is fantastic for maintaining small to medium backyards. You can cut tall grass easily with the low blade count and good steering of the four wheels. You get a lot of perks for the money that you spend. And that’s what the budget pick is all about.
Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower – Premium Pick
- Wheel size: NA
- Cutting width: 18”
- Blade count: 5
- Handle style: Adjustable wonky handle
Let’s take a look at our premium pick for reel mowers. The Fiskars StaySharp Max reel mower has a whole lot of great engineering rolled into one unit.
The blades stay true to their name. They will always be sharp, thanks to zero contact between the reel blades and the bed knife. No contact means less wear and tear and less sharpening.
It also makes this mower easier to push than others. The space between the blades makes jamming less of an issue. Plus, the added weight of the mower gives it more power to go through thick patches.
Yes, a heavy mower is a bit difficult to push and maneuver, but its momentum makes it lighter for you to steer when it does get started. The reel is even connected to a chain system rather than the wheels.
So even if you stop pushing, the reel keeps spinning—kind of like a bicycle. When you’re going fast and stop pedaling, you keep moving because the gear chains still move. That gives you time to adjust your position without starting from a stop.
And last but not least. This reel mower has a grass chute that can either toss the cut grass backward or forward. It comes super handy when you’re going out but need to do a quick mow. But you don’t want grass all over your shoes when you’re done. Just flip the chute forward, push for a few minutes without getting sweaty and be on your way.
It is the ultimate mower for homeowners without a budget issue. With the Fiskars StaySharp Max reel mower’s features, you save time and effort. You can also reduce clean-up! It cuts all types of grass, including thick ones like Bermuda.
If you like to keep your grass super short, this isn’t the mower for you because the shortest your grass will be is 1 inch tall. But as long as you don’t have an issue with a heavy start and a lighter. this mower is excellent for you.
It uses contactless cutting technology (your reel doesn’t touch the bed knife) so that there’s no swishing sound as you mow. It also helps keep your blades sharp and gives allowance in case there are bigger clumps of grass. There’s less chance for grass-jamming with this technique so expect easy pushing all the time.
This German reel mower is perfect for small lawns with short-growing grass. The five blades of the reel cut half an inch to 1.5 inches. That’s ideal for grasses like Bermuda and Kentucky Bluegrass (1).
This reel mower is also great for keeping in a small shed. The loop handle folds into thirds for compact storage.
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Reel Mower Not Spinning – Possible Fixes
Reel mowers are super simple to operate. That’s what people love so much about them. You push the mower forward, and the blades engage and start to spin, cutting the grass in the process. But when a reel mower is not spinning, that’s a problem. If you planned to do some lawn maintenance today and started to push your reel mower like you always do, but the blades won’t engage, the grass isn’t going to get cut.
There are a few possible causes of a reel mower not spinning, which we’ll talk about below. Because reel mowers are so basic in design, there are not many things that can go wrong, which helps to narrow down the possible causes.
How to Use a Reel Mower | Sharpen, Lube & Adjust
Reel Mower Not Spinning: Possible Causes
95% of the time a reel mower not spinning the blade is caused by either a damaged or worn pinion gear or a damaged or missing pawl lever. Check both of these parts by removing the wheels.
Troubleshooting a Reel Mower Not Spinning
Now I’m going to talk about each of these issues, one by one to describe them in a bit more detail, as well as explain what you might need to do to fix the issue.
Pinion Gear Damaged or Worn Down
You’re going to need to take off the wheel for this, as the parts that you’re going to need to look at are hidden from sight on most models. This will involve removing one or more bolts, so have a wrench at the ready.
When you’ve got the wheel off, you’ll notice a series of grooves all around the outside of the interior part of the wheel. You should also see a smaller pinion gear attached to the end of the axle. This pinion gear fits into the grooves on the wheel, and when the wheel turns, it rotates the pinion and that’s how the blades spin.
Over a long period and a lot of use, this pinion gear could be worn down to the point where it either slips or doesn’t lock into those grooves at all. When this happens, you can rotate the wheels as much as you want, but the blades won’t spin.
Solution: The only solution in this situation is to replace the pinion gear. You need to be careful to order the right one for your exact reel mower model. If your mower is extremely old, it can be difficult to source these parts, but talk to the manufacturer as they may be able to offer a solution. It’s also a good idea to replace the pinion gear on both sides at the same time.
Broken or Missing Pawl
I know, I know. This stuff can seem a bit technical. I had no idea what any of this stuff was called before I went through this process for the first time too.
Inside the pinion gear, there’s a small piece of metal (or sometimes they’re just made of plastic) call a pawl lever. This might not look like much, but it’s actually pretty important and if something happens to it, it could result in your reel mower not spinning.
The pawl has a flat edge and a beveled edge. They’re positioned so that when you push your reel mower forward, the pawl locks up the pinion gear so that it drives the blades. But when you pull it backward, the pawl is released so the pinion gear doesn’t engage the blades.
If this pawl lever is either damaged or missing (perhaps you had the wheel off at some point and didn’t notice it drop out), it won’t lock up the pinion gear and consequently, the blades won’t spin.
Solution: You need to source a new pawl from the manufacturer and fit it. You could also make some sort of “homemade” solution like in the video below if it’s not impossible to source the correct pawn for your reel mower.
In my experience, there are not too many possible explanations for a reel mower not spinning the blades. It’s usually always something to do with the gears. Check that the blade cylinder will spin freely (wearing gloves and being very careful) first, and that it’s not simply debris stopping the blade cylinder from turning. If it does spin freely, pop the wheel off and look at that pinion gear and pawl. 95% of the time that’s the cause. Good luck!
Proper Way To Tip A Lawn Mower Over
About Tom Greene
I’ve always had a keen interest in lawn care as long as I can remember. Friends used to call me the lawn mower guru (hence the site name), but I’m anything but. I just enjoy cutting my lawn and spending time outdoors. I also love the well-deserved doughnuts and coffee afterward!
Комментарии и мнения владельцев
I had the same problem with my wheels not turning the reel as I pushed the mower forward. Thanks for your video. From your explanation I understood that the pawl needed to be able to slide freely from side to side inside the pinion gear. Mine was greasy and dirty and couldn’t slide freely. After a good cleaning, problem solved! Of course, I regreased the outside is the pinion gears while being careful not to get any on the inside again.
Hey there… My issue is that the blade locks up and I can’t see any obvious signs as to why… Any advice?
Hi Bev, Have you had a look at the pinion gear and pawl lever? These parts are almost always the reason why blades lock up on push reel mowers in my experience. Cheers, Tom.
Tom, My Great States 16, which is about 4 years old, locks up in recently seeded Bermuda grass. I suppose it is the pinion gears. But how can I get replacement parts without trashing it and buying another? Maybe the Bermuda is too thick? Any ideas?
Hi Rob, If the pinion gears are damaged, then you’ll probably need a replacement mower. I did look around the internet to see what was available for Great State reel mowers, but I came up empty. It doesn’t look like parts are available. Maybe you should take the lawn mower apart and look for specific damage. It could just be a case that the lawn mower needs a good cleaning, a spray with WD-40, and some grease on the moving parts. Bermuda grass can be a tricky grass type to cut. I have heard all kinds of stories describing how tough it can be. Maybe you should try cutting your lawn more often or cutting half strips so that the mower doesn’t have to work so hard. Thanks for the question, and good luck with mowing. Tom.
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Cut your search for the best lawn mowers in half with this guide for finding a top-notch yard-maintenance product for a small lawn.
By Tom Scalisi | Updated Oct 27, 2022 5:11 PM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
When shopping for the best lawn mower for small yards, narrow down the choices to what matters: ease of use, durability, and reliability. Users with a small lawn should also consider storage and yard size: Taking a ½-hour to get out a mower to run it for only 10 minutes is a waste of time and space.
Finding the best mower can be tricky. First, shoppers must choose among a gas-powered mower, an electric mower, or a manual mower. Next, they should look for the perfect size, price, and style (riding mower or push mower). To help keep the search short, here’s a helpful guide to finding the best lawn mower for small yards.
- BEST OVERALL:Greenworks G-Max 40V 16” Cordless Lawn Mower
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Sun Joe MJ401E-PRO 14″ 13-Amp Electric Lawn Mower
- UPGRADE PICK:Gardena 15001-41 Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST GAS-POWERED:Craftsman M105 140cc 21″ Gas Push Lawn Mower
- BEST ELECTRIC:Greenworks 19″ Brushless Cordless Lawn Mower
- BEST REEL:Great States 18″ 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower
- BEST CORDLESS:Makita XML03CM1 18V X2 (36V) LXT 18″ Lawn Mower
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT:BlackDecker Electric Lawn Mower 15″ 10-Amp
- BEST ROBOTIC:Worx Landroid M 20V 2.0Ah Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST MANUAL:American Lawn Mower Company 14″ Push Reel Lawn Mower
Types of Lawn Mowers
Before browsing for mowers, consider the power source: gas, electric, or battery. Or eliminate an exterior power source by purchasing a manual push mower. Next, choose the cutting type (hover, rotary, or cylinder).
Gas-powered lawn mowers are the old standby. These mowers use internal combustion engines to spin their mower blade and chop grass to the desired height. Gas-powered mowers, which are usually more powerful than other types of mowers, are easier to work on if something goes wrong.
However, gas-powered mowers are heavier and require more maintenance. The spark plugs, air filters, and fuel filters must be changed at least once per year, just like for a vehicle. over, in colder climates, they must be winterized with a fuel stabilizer.
Although electric mowers aren’t a new concept or product, advances in motor technology have made these quiet-running mowers a viable option for small- and midsize yards.
As the name suggests, an electric mower uses an electric motor to spin its blades. It’s also one of the easiest mowers to start. Users simply press the “on” button to start a corded electric lawn mower.
One of the downsides to an electric mower is that it’s not as powerful as a gas-powered mower, so heavy or wet grass can pose a problem. In addition, servicing an electric mower is more difficult and less cost-effective, as its parts are usually fairly expensive.
Unlike a corded electric mower, a battery-powered mower uses rechargeable batteries, so users can mow the lawn without a nearby outlet or cord. They’re also noiseless, lightweight, and environmentally friendly.
Though cordless mowers may sound convenient, also consider battery life and price before making a purchase. Some battery-powered mowers, for example, are sold in a kit that includes the battery and the charger, but not always. Be sure to double-check the warranty and battery life before opting for a cordless mower.
For a more eco-friendly approach to mowing, the trusty reel mower (also known as a push mower) may be the way to go. As opposed to a gas- or electric-powered mower, traditional push mowers require manual power.
Thanks to their scissorlike cutting action, reel mowers help the grass stay healthy and disease- and insect-resistant. They’re also quiet, efficient, and affordable. Purchasing a reel mower is an environmentally conscious, one-time investment for your lawn, and they generally require little maintenance.
If the grass is 4 inches or taller, operating a push mower may be difficult but not impossible. When mowing an overgrown lawn with a reel mower, be patient and mow in an overlapping, or checkerboard, pattern.
With all these options in mind, choosing the best lawn mower for a small yard may seem a bit overwhelming. Here are some additional features to consider before pulling out your checkbook.
When shopping for a new mower, think about more than just the grass. Consider the number of trees and obstacles; yard debris, such as leaves, twigs, or nuts; and the terrain, which can dictate wheel size and weight.
If a battery-powered or corded electric lawn mower didn’t make the list of possibilities, do a bit of engine research. Walk-mower engines, which range in size from 140 cubic centimeters (cc) to 190 cc, come in four variations: traditional side valve, overhead valve, overhead cam, and direct overhead valve. The more cc an engine has, the more power. Those planning to cut thick, long grass may want to purchase a high-powered riding mower, but a lower-powered push mower can handle routine trimming.
Starting a lawn mower shouldn’t be an ordeal, especially if mowing a small yard. Whether it’s an electric or gas-powered mower, the simpler it is to start, the better.
- Starting an electric mower is pretty straightforward: Simply connect to a power source, flip a switch, push a button or turn a key, and pull the throttle bar back to the push bar, and voilà!
- A gas-powered mower, on the other hand, requires a bit of elbow grease. To start a gas mower, pump gasoline into the fuel system to prime it, pull back the throttle bar, and yank on the pull start. If the motor stalls, don’t worry. The pull start may just need a few more tugs. Some mowers come with an additional built-in pull start function that multiplies the force applied to make the task easier.
Cutting Width and Height
When shopping for the best mower for your yard, consider its cutting width and height. Gas-powered mowers usually come in widths ranging from 20 to 30 inches; models on the lower end of that range are ideal for smaller yards.
Electric mowers are manufactured in widths between 15 and 21 inches, which work well for small yards. The same range applies to a reel-style mower. Though mowers with a smaller width require more passes, they can reach tight spots in the yard and store easily.
Mulching and Bags
Some homeowners don’t like yard clippings on their freshly cut lawn, while others use the clippings as mulch. Most mowers can discharge clippings, and they have a space on the side for grass clippings to exit the mower. However, some mowers come with a detachable bag that fits this space, so homeowners can bag the clippings to use as mulch.
In addition to giving a yard a cleaner look, mulch adds nutrients to the soil and can prevent the growth of weeds. Mulching also saves time and money.
If a yard contains a lot of narrow spaces between shrubbery and garden beds, an easily maneuverable mower can help manage the tight turns and small passages. When choosing an easily maneuverable mower, weight is the most important consideration. A lightweight mower (50 pounds or lighter) allows precision mowing and tighter turns.
over, a smaller-width mower is easier to pass through these tight spaces, so also look at the mower’s deck. This type of mower will require more passes, but it should be able to mow in the tight spots.
Regardless of the type of mower, it should be safe to operate and easy to store. The easy start on an electric mower is dangerous because even a child could start it. To prevent such a scenario, look for an electric mower with a removable key or lockable switch.
On the other hand, gas-powered models have few safety features. However, they’re not unsafe because most of them contain a throttle bar that shuts down the mower when the push bar is released. This means that when someone falls or loses their grip on the mower, it shuts off almost immediately.
Reel mowers have even fewer safety features. In general, if their wheels are spinning, their blades are moving.
Two of the most important safety considerations when operating any type of lawn mower are to wear closed-toe shoes when mowing, and keep children and pets out of the vicinity.
As mentioned, gas-powered mowers require more maintenance than other types of mowers. Owners must change air and fuel filters as well as spark plugs about once a year. To ready the mower for winter, the gas must be drained, and most people add a fuel-system stabilizer.
Electric and reel mowers don’t require nearly as much maintenance, and cold weather doesn’t affect them. And, of course, they don’t use spark plugs or filters. However, these mowers still need some universal maintenance. Clean the underside of the mower a few times each year to prevent grass from building up and causing corrosion. The blade may need resharpening from time to time as well.
Our Top Picks
Ready to start shopping? With these features and considerations in mind, our recommendations were selected as some of the best lawn mowers for small-yard models.