At some point, the grass on your lawn may be too long than it needs to be and since it’s better to be safe than sorry, you will need to cut it short. How can you do this in the best way possible? how can you get the best reel mower for the job?
If you are looking for something that is easy to the ears, has less handling and is good for the environment, then a reel mower is up to the task. Even though they have been around for quite some time, getting the very best is no easy task. Just like most of the other home maintenance tools, choosing this one needs you to look into even the tiniest detail which is what we’ll be doing today.
Besides looking at the buying guide for the best reel mower, we’ll also have a look at some of the best in 2018. Well, without further ado, let’s get started, shall we?
Make Your Pick from 3 Of Our Best Reel Mower Reviews
To save you the hassle of having to read all through, here’s a compilation of 3 of our best picks.
Top 6 Best Reel Mower Reviews in 2018
Now that we know some of the things you should always take into account when choosing a reel mower, let’s move on to today’s main agenda. Below are 6 of the best reel mowers you could get for your money in 2018. Well, let’s get started…
#1 Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower
Starting us off is one of the best from Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get something that will be able to handle whichever task you throw its way? Well, let’s take a look at what this reel packs under the hood.
As far as ease of use is concerned, the Fiskars StaySharp won’t disappoint. It just so happens to deliver 60% ease of use as compared to other reel mowers since pushing won’t be a problem at all. It simply takes lawn mowing to a whole new enjoyable level.
Has got the InertiaDrive technology. This is composed of a large-diameter cutting reel and thicker blades which in the long run deliver double the cutting power you get from other reel mowers. With the added strength, you get more strength to easily rip through weeds.
The mower has got inset blades all across the full width of the mower. With these, you get to avoid the frustrations that come with missing strips and edges next to sidewalks.
Long lasting sharpness.
Whereas most of the reel mowers have contact between the bed knife and the blades, there is no contact on this one which means that there is less friction. This, in the end, ensures that the edges remain sharp for quite some time.
#2 American Lawn Mower 1204-14 14-Inch 4-Blade
Second on our list is the American Lawn Mower. If you are looking for something that will be able to take on most turf grass in a jiffy, this one’s definitely it.
First off, it weighs only 19 pounds and as far as movement and maneuverability are concerned, the weight just so happens to be one of the major determining factors. Other than being easy to move around with, being light also does allow you to easily store your mower.
The cutting width is an outstanding 14 inches which also contributes to the light weight of the mower. This allows you to try out a lot of different patterns and also have access to the narrow sections of your lawn with utmost ease.
As for the cutting height, you get ½ to 1 ¾ inches cutting height. This allows you to cut your grass to a perfect height and give your lawn a beautiful look as it deserves.
The mower also comes with a tempered alloy steel reel as well as bed knife. This ensures that its durability is not compromised whatsoever. In addition to this, the reel will be able to maintain its sharp edges for quite some time.
#3 Great States 415-16 16-Inch With T-Style Handle And Heat Treated Blades
Looking for the most durable reel mower? Well, this one might just be the best of 2018. Let’s take a look at what it’s got, shall we?
First off, it comes with a 16-inch cutting width. This one happens to be an average width that’s neither too narrow nor is it too wide. With this, you’ll definitely be able to move easily and also get to the hard-to-reach regions of your lawn.
The height of the mower can be adjusted anywhere between ½- 2 ½ inches. This allows you to cut your grass short enough so that it maintains its healthy and beautiful look. When doing the adjustment, you should adjust both sides of the wheel equally.
Other than delivering utmost cutting precision, the mower is lightweight and easy to maneuver and store- whether you want it in your garage or hanging on a wall, you won’t have to worry about space.
The best handles:
The powdered coated finished handles will not only last longer but are also protected from rusting. This allows you to use the mower much longer than is the case in other mowers.
As for the blades, they are heat treated hence they get to stay sharp longer and giving you a better quality cut.
We’re already past halfway on our list and we’re doing great so far. Coming up fourth is the Scots 2000. Here’s what you’ll be getting from it.
First of all, it is one of the few mowers that come with an outstanding 9 height adjustment. With this mower, you can choose anywhere between 1-3 inches. The best part about the adjustment mechanism is that it is controlled by quick-snap height adjusters hence it won’t be a hassle to get it into position.
As for the blades, it boasts 5 heat-treated steel blades. These, besides maintaining their sharp edges for quite some time will also maintain their high-quality longer as compared to other reel mowers.
The fact that it has got 2 composite wheels definitely makes it the best push mower. With these, there is more stability and you also get to move around with it faster and easier.
Coming to the handle, it’s got a comfortable loop handle with a foam grip hence giving you a firm grip at all times. Something else that’s worth mentioning is that the assembly of the mower won’t be a problem. Within minutes of receiving your mower, you can get started with the cutting.
Outstanding cutting width…
The Scotts 2000-20 features a 20-inch cutting width that is wider than average. This reduces the number of passes needed to clear your lawn and more so, it is ideal for cutting even tough grass species.
#5 Sun Joe MJ501M Mow Joe 18-Inch Manual Reel Mower with Catcher
We’re almost done with our list now. Coming 5th is the Sun Joe MJ501M. if you want something that’s going to give you a bang for your money, then you should consider including this mower on your shopping list.
First off, it comes with 2 large 10-inch wheels and behind these are smaller 6-inch wheels. By having these additional two wheels rather than the generic 2 large ones you’ll find on reel mowers, it is far much easier to move around. Get to have the best movement and maneuverability especially on small lawns.
Something else that makes this mower unique is that it comes with a grass catcher. This is not something you’ll get in your everyday mower. The catcher can hold up to as much as 6.6 gallons of grass and if you don’t want it present, you can detach it easily from the mower.
The cutting path is 18 inches wide which will be ideal to cover a reasonable amount of ground with each revolution and forward motion. Also, the mower comes with a 9-inch height adjustment lever; it allows for cutting heights of up to 2.44 inches hence you get utmost control of your grass.
Accuracy and efficiency:
With both the dual wheel design and the sharp hardened steel blades, you get to have utmost accuracy as well as cutting efficiency.
#6 GreenWorks 25052 16-Inch Reel Lawn Mower with Grass Catcher
Coming to the end of our best reel mower reviews, we have the GreenWorks 25052. Let’s take a quick look at it, shall we?
First of all, it comes with an outstanding 16-inch cutting path. This means that you have less weight to worry about. Another added benefit you get from the narrower width is easy movement hence you’ll be able to get to every nook and cranny of your lawn.
Other than the 10-inch front drive wheels, the mower has also got 2-inch rear roller wheels which contribute to the ease of movement you’ll experience while using it.
Another additional feature that makes it stand out as the best reel mower you could get for your money is that it comes with a mulching and rear bag.
When it comes to the cutting ranges, this reel mower allows height adjustments from 1 1/8 to 2 ¼ hence giving you a perfect cut on all grass types. The height adjustments can be done in 3 different positions on the mentioned ranges.
Finally, the mower is completely environmental friendly- no gas fumes and it delivers both a quiet and easy handling- definitely the best.
How to the reel mowers work?
Most of us have heard about the motorized push mowers, right? Well, whereas these ones utilize the rotary blades, it is not the case in the best reel mowers.
Reel mowers, rather than using the blades parallel to the ground have their blades at an angle perpendicular to the ground. Think of the blades on the best reel mower as really superior and super sharp scissors. As compared to the rotary blades, the best reel mowers offer a finer cut which is what we all definitely want.
As you push the mower, every turn snips off the grass in a scissor-like motion. Besides getting a finer cut, you won’t have to worry about ripping off the grass from its roots and at the same time, the grass is sealed. This results in keeping moisture in and lawn diseases out.
Minimum damage to the grass:
Something else that’s worth pointing out about the best reel mowers is that they do not use vacuum action to pull up the grass that is cut. With the snipping action of reel mowers, there is a minimum disturbance to the natural growth of the turf. With the natural growth process of the turf maintained, weeds are crowded out.
The cutting action of the reel mowers is also recommended by professionals due to the fact that you get to cut the grass at the minimum height possible. At the same time, their healthy and beautiful look is maintained.
Something else that’s worth mentioning is that by using a reel mower, the grass that is clipped is evenly distributed. The evenly distributed grass, on the other hand, serves as natural mulch. Upon rotting away, they release nutrients to the soil in a similar way organic fertilizers do.
Using the reel mower
Other than slashers, reel mowers have been around for the longest time when it comes to selecting a tool to cut your grass short.
Initially, the common cutting technique employed when it came to using the reel mower is the backward and forward motion. This was similar to a sawing motion and was mostly done because the blades on the mower were not that sharp. Today, however, this is unnecessary, you just need to walk at your normal pace and in most cases, a single pass is enough.
Something else you should always observe is to stay regular in you mowing. What I mean by saying this is that it is better to mow frequently than to wait for the grass to grow to a height that is too long to handle. Doing this once a week, for instance, should do the trick.
Overlap your mowing patterns:
When it comes to lawn mowing, the effect of overlapping the mowing pattern should not be underestimated whatsoever. As a matter of fact, this makes it easier to mow and cut off any grass that had slipped by the first time. The same way variety spices up life, so is the case when it comes to mowing. Taking this into account, you should consider mowing in different patterns so as to see which one gives your lawn the best look.
Different techniques for different seasons:
With the dawn of different seasons, you may need to change your mowing techniques. Take for example mowing in spring; it is in this time that grass grows faster and has got a lot of moisture. You will need to set your mower to a higher height unlike in the fall when the growing season is coming to an end.
As for the summer and with the dawn of the peak summer heat, you may need to minimize your mowing height so as to give your grass the best look.
Experiment with different cutting heights:
So as to make the job easier for both you and the mower, you should do your cutting at the shortest recommended height. Ensure that you cut it to no more than 3 to 4 inches.
Mentioned above is, however, only the conventional recommendation. This does not restrict you to using that height. It is always recommended that you experiment using the mower in different cutting heights. This way, you will know what suits your lawn best and what doesn’t- we all got our different tastes and preferences, don’t we?
Walk at a steady pace:
other mowers have the engines when it comes to the reel mower, you are the engine. If you don’t give it the correct amount of push, it will tend to bind up; think of it the same way the car engine stalls if you don’t give it the correct amount of power when you take off. For the lawn mower, the turns of the blade are directly proportional to how fast you walk. Even so, don’t walk too fast that you end up wearing yourself out. Simply move at a comfortable pace and you’ll get the results you desire.
What about weeds?
If weds happen to find their way to your lawn, you should not wait for them to grow too high. When this happens, the mower will just be cutting the grass since when you push it over the weeds (mostly dandelions), they won’t spring back up. On the other hand, if you use the mower when they are at a smaller height, it will be much easier to cut them off.
If you can, mow early:
Trust me on this one, if you want to have the best outcome, then you probably should be ready to rise up early. As compared to the motorized lawn mowers, the reel mowers give you the luxury of mowing whenever you want. You won’t have to worry about waking up your neighbors early in the morning. After all, you’ll be comfortable with the cool morning temperatures hence you’ll do a better job as compared to mowing later in the day.
Always take proper care for your reel mower:
As much as it is the simple lawn mowing machine, the reel mower does demand utmost maintenance as well if you want it to perform at its best. The cut is precise and clean and it is recommended for use to both experts and beginners.
The absence of engines means that there will be fewer hassles when maintaining it. In addition to this, gas plugs and spark plugs among other things are not needed hence you won’t be making trips to the hardware store to make any replacements.
Anyways, here are some of the maintenance tips you could employ when it comes to the reel mower:
- First off, it is metallic hence it is prone to corrosion and even worse rust when not cleaned properly. You should wipe it clean occasionally since the cleaner you keep it, the longer it is going to serve you.
- You should also ensure that the cutter bar is perfectly adjusted. This should, however, be done with utmost care not to overtighten it. This is important because as time passes by and with the vibrations that are involved in mowing, it may loosen up.
- Something else to pay attention to is the bearings and cutting edges on the lawnmower. Regularly ensure that you lube these with a recommended lube by the manufacturer or an expert.
- Take it from someone who knows; sharpening your blades every few weeks will give you the best mowing experience. Do consider purchasing a sharpening kit for your mower and even better, you should contact the manufacturers to see what they recommend be used
Here’s How to Get the Best Reel Mower for Your Lawn
Now that you’ve got utmost knowledge on how to best handle a reel mower, it’s time we took a look at what you ought to look into so as to get the best.
Go for the reel mower that you’ll push with relative ease
First off, one of the major reasons most people go for the reel mowers is that weight will not be a burden whatsoever. In this case, we don’t all have the same preferences, right? What may be comfortable to you may not necessarily be suitable for use by someone else.
In this case, take into account the terrain of your land. This will enable you to gauge the amount of effort you’ll be using when pushing the mower. You should also take into account the type of grass that you have.
Though it may seem rather unlikely, some species of grass will actually be cut off better if you have a heavier reel mower. Take into consideration Zoysia and St. Augustine; if you use a lighter mower on these, it will just skim over the top. It is simply a matter of carrying out a minor research and you’ll be good to go. On the other hand, the best push reel mower to use on thinner grass are the light ones.
Width vs convenience:
Something else that greatly influences how heavy your reel mower will be is the width of the mower. By taking a look at the size of your lawn and how much ground you’d like to cover.
Obviously, the wider the width of the mower, the heavier it is expected to be which means that it may be a hassle to push it. On the bright side, with the wider mower, you’ll have the benefit of covering more ground as compared to a narrower mower.
Choosing between a heavier and a lighter mower may be confusing. When it comes down to a point where you have to make the decision, you should consider whether getting a heavier, wider mower that covers more ground is better than a lighter, narrower mower that you’ll push faster.
How to choose your reel mower based on the blades:
Another criterion you can use when choosing your mower is the blades. Before we delve into the types of blade, it is worth mentioning that when you get your mower from most manufacturers, you’ll notice that they aren’t that sharp.
After you sharpen them, it may take some time before they go back to the state they were in when you bought them. When they lose their edges, you don’t have to worry since this is how they were initially.
You should also know that the success of a reel mower is greatly influenced by how the blades are aligned. Adjusting a reel mower is quite easy and it shouldn’t be a problem after you take a look at the user manual. Normally, the manual will guide you on how to align it correctly inside the mower’s body to have it fit perfectly in the bed knife.
The reel mower blades are of two types- the ones that have metal-to-metal contact and the ones that don’t
For the ones with the metal-to-metal contact, there is contact between the blades and the cutter bar. It is because of this that you’ll always hear a simple click when using them.
An alternative to the contact reel mowers are the ‘silent-cut’ mowers. For these, there is no contact between the blades and the cutter bar. As a matter of fact, these are the best push reel mowers since there is less metal contact hence less friction. This means that they will maintain their sharp edge for quite some time hence saving you in the frequency of maintenance.
Also, the blades on this type of mower come with a hardened steel blade. This makes them the best choice if you want something that’s durable.
How high or low will the mower be able to cut:
When it comes to the cutting height, you should consider the species you have in your lawn rather than settling for the generalization. Normally, for thin grass, it is recommended that you maintain the cutting height at about 3 inches high. Yes, this will definitely look good on any lawn but it doesn’t necessarily mean that yours too has to be this way.
For tougher grass, you should go for a mower that will allow you to cut lower since the longer they grow, the harder they are to cut.
On the other hand, based on your preferences, you can go for a mower that can cut as high as 4 inches. However, you should be careful not to leave it too long since you’ll have to trim it every once in a while.
Which type of reel mower suits you best:
Reel mowers come in two types- the electric reel mower or the manual reel mowers. Either of these has its advantages and disadvantages. Well, let’s see why you should choose either.
First off, when you use the electric reel mower, you get a higher RPM hence making it easier to use since it will be doing most of the cutting. The end result of using the electric lawn mower is that you’ll be getting more cuts per square unit. You can push it at a slower pace to maximize this even though you get this benefit from the electric reel mower, it is on the downside heavier since it carries the weight of both the batteries and the motor.
As compared to the electric lawn mower, the manual reel mower has got fewer RPMs per square unit. This simply means that you’ll have to walk faster so as to make the blades turn faster.
From a personal point of view, there’s really no point in getting the electric lawn mower. The cutting height is the same and even though the electric one is faster, it is heavier hence after some time you may be forced to move slower. As a matter of fact, it may be difficult to tell whether the lawn was mowed by an electric or a manual mower after say 48 hours.
Maintenance of a Reel Lawn Mower
As much as you may be having the best in the market, it does not mean that it is indestructible. You need to ensure that you give it the best maintenance just like you would on other cutting equipment.
Let’s have a look at some of the maintenance measures you can employ on it, shall we?
Sharpening the blade
Even though it is the most simplified version of a mower you can get, this is no easy task. You can use a grinding compound to sharpen the blades easily. In order to do this, you have to have the wheels rotate in the opposite direction, place grinding stone on them and push it around till it’s easy to do so. Wash off the grinding compound and you’re good to go after you set them rotating in the right way.
This may be challenging the first time since you’ll have to take out the wheels, the gears and swapping them then reversing this process again.
How to sharpen a reel mower
Once the blades are sharp enough, move on to lubricating the reel mower
When it comes to lubricating the mower, you need to pay attention to the moving parts. This is simply the wheel drive gear assembly of the mower. Depending on the model you have, it may be more or less difficult to do this.
Some models require you to undo the hub nut and remove the entire wheel so as to get to the gears. In other mowers, you’ll need to undo some screws with a screwdriver or pop off the hub nut with a wrench, remove the covers on the wheels and get to the gears.
Once you have the gears, you should then move on to packing the gear train with grease and work in the grease on the gear train. Do the same for the opposite wheel and you’re good to go.
Cleaning the mower
After using the mower, you should ensure that it’s clean enough before stacking it away. The best way to do this is wash off the dirt and grass debris with a strong water jet (you can do this with a simple garden hose). Having done so, you should allow the mower to dry completely to prevent rusting and corrosion.
Unlike greasing and sharpening, cleaning should be done each time you are through with mowing if you want your mower to last long.
Advantages of getting a reel mower
In a nutshell, here are some of the reasons you should get yourself a reel mower
- They are amazingly cheap: One of the reasons as to why most people go for the reel mowers is that there is less cost incurred in both purchasing them and maintaining them. If you’re looking for something simple and efficient, this one’s for you
- Pollution-free: Another plus of having a reel mower is that it is entirely safe for the environment. As compared to the motorized mowers, the reel mowers don’t emit any fumes and noise as well; all they do is get the work done.
- Easy assembly: The reel mower is simply made of the blade and all the other parts are present so as to support the blade. Its construction is arrived at with the main aim to make it as simple as possible. Even for a first time user, it won’t be a hassle to assemble and use it conveniently
- Demands less storage space: With minimal parts making up the whole equipment, storing the mower won’t be a hassle at all. You can have it in your garage or simply hung it up on the wall.
- Lightweight: Owing to the fact that there is no gas tank or battery to run the blades as is the case in the motorized mowers, you’ll have less weight to worry about. Even with the largest reel mowers, the weight cannot be compared to the lightest motorized mowers
- Little maintenance: You can see most of the parts on your mower with your eyes, right? This way, it is much easier to detect the presence of any faults. Most of the maintenance procedures also include basic cleaning, minor adjustments and sharpening the blade after you use it dozens of times.
- The cut is perfect: Reel mowers basically clip of the grass in a scissor-like motion. Owing to the fact that there is no vacuuming the grass, the cuts are perfect, tidy and healthy.
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Disadvantages of getting a reel mower
Here are some of the things you should come to terms with If you buy a reel mower:
- Demands your effort- the mower has no engine which means you’ll be the ‘engine’ in this case. For it to cut most effectively, you’ll need to move around for the blade to move which can be quite cumbersome especially if the sun is high up
- Your lawn needs to be liter free- if you’ve got twigs or rocks on your lawn, be ready to deal with unjamming the machine. Even worse, the rocks may end up damaging and blunting the blades on your mower.
- Not suitable if you want to cover more ground- for lawns that are about half an acre big, the reel mowers are effective; if your lawn is bigger than this, however, then you should probably get a gasoline lawn mower.
- Not effective for use on tall grass- if your grass is too tall or your yard is crowded with weeds, you’ll need to think of another option since using the reel mower will be futile.
If the reel mower does not suit you best, then you should definitely go for a motorized mower. Even so, it is highly recommended that you go for one that is CARB certified for the sake of environmental protection.
Coming to the end of our reel mower reviews, all that can be said is that it is quite a machine to go for. It’s environmentally friendly, convenient and quiet with minimal maintenance.
The best is entirely your personal choice and you’ll need to have a look at detailed features on the reel mowers available in the market to get what you want. Also, even though it meets all your needs, ensure that you give it utmost care and maintenance, otherwise, it will disappoint you.
Take it from an expert’s point of view, the reel mower will serve quite well for both newbies and experts in the field. It will definitely be worth your time, money and effort.