Lawn mower without engine. 7 Best Reel Mowers for Your Lawn Needs

Pros And Cons Of Reel Mowers – Still A Viable Choice?

In this article I want to talk about the pros and cons of reel mowers.

Slightly surprisingly, in this world of modern gadgets and ‘motorised everythings’, reel mowers seem to be making a bit of a comeback.

and more gardeners are turning away from the gas rotary mowers and the ride-ons, and going back to a more traditional way of knowing their lawns using human powered lawn mowers.

Reel mowers are appealing to a lot of people, from the health and wellbeing fanatic to the haters of noise pollution, to the haters of pollution in general….the environmentalist.

The frugal homesteader loves them, as do those (and I have to admit to falling into this category a bit) who have a romantic notion of the past, imagining pushing a manual lawn mower around a well manicured English garden, with cream teas on the patio and not a Cloud in the sky.

With a push reel mower, you have to be prepared to be the engine, the workhorse behind the motion.

You need to be prepared to mow when it NEEDS mowing, not when you just can’t avoid it any longer and your significant other is threatening divorce or battery if you don’t do something about the jungle outside.

If you have a small to moderate sized lawn, free of twigs and other stones that will stop you in your tracks, a push mower is actually a pretty good option. I have one, I use it, I love it. It’s replaced the electric rotary mower almost completely.

This review of the pros and cons is not based on some meta-analysis of Amazon reviews or a vague idea about what may or may not be good. It’s based on my personal experience with my Bosch lawn mower, bought just before the summer and used with excitement and vigor throughout the mowing season.

lawn, mower, engine, best

I’ve going to give my viewpoint as someone who owns two mowers. The reel mower vs rotary mower debate stirs up a lot of excitement on forums around the interwebz, and we all have a view.

As a prelude to this article, I’ll state the bleedin’ obvious right off the bat.

Reel mowers aren’t for you if you’re lazy, you have a massive lawn, you only mow when you can’t see the dog in the grass or if you hate the idea of using something that was designed in the 1800s.

If you don’t fit those blatant stereotypes, read on, let’s find out why the reel mower is making such a resurgence, and is this romantic connection with the past really warranted.

The Manual Push Reel Mower Defined

You may already know about reel mowers, but let me indulge myself for the reader who is in the dark. Most modern mowers are of the rotary type. The blade is attached to the engine/electric motor which is mounted on top of the mowing deck. The drive shaft goes through the center of the deck and the blade attaches to it.

You could almost think of it like an upside down helicopter, the blades chopping the grass off as they spin. Although the most purchased mower these days, the rotary system is actually pretty bad for you lawn. The blades are never razor sharp so chop and hack at the grass rather than cut it.

You grass ends up ripped and torn which is actually pretty bad for it.

The reel mower, although touted by the bigoted and ignorant as a tool of yesteryear, these mowers are actually pretty cool. The CUT the grass like you’d cut paper with a pair of scissors. No ripping, shredding, tearing or bruising, just clean cutting that leaves your grass healthy and looking amazing.

It’s sometimes easier to learn how something works with a visual guide. Check out this video for a fuller explanation on how they old-timer mowers work.

Understanding The Pros And Cons Of Reel Mowers

Every lawn mower, in fact every tool or item that you use to carry out a task has pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, benefits and limitations. It’s just the way it is. You wouldn’t use a ladle to cut a cheesecake (don’t, I’ve tried) and you wouldn’t use a reel mower to mower a 5 acre lawn.

Reel mowers have some incredibly good benefits, but they aren’t for everything. Here’s some pointers to help you decide if this is a mower for you

Pros And Benefits Of Reel Mowers

Push reel mowers are better for the health of your lawn. I never really considered it before looking into the push mower as an option. I just thought that mowers mowed grass and it was all good.

Once I read up a bit, it turns out that the tearing effect that rotary mowers have on the grass leaves it open to disease and also attack from insect pests. Grass that has been cleanly cut is far less vulnerable to these problems.

You lawn looks a lot nicer after being cut properly with a reel mower. My wife laughed when I bought my little Bosch mower, but I wiped that smile right off her face when she saw how awesome the lawn looked. Here it is after a few cuts, with our collie Jasper looking for trouble.

Once she learned how to mow a lawn with a self-propelled reel mower, she hasn’t used the rotary since.

Push mowers are super quiet. I love this. The noise of gas or electric mowers breaking the silence on a sunny Sunday afternoon in an English village is irritating.

The push mower isn’t silent, it omits this wonderful whirring noise as the cylinder spins, short perfectly cropped pieces of grass flying out the top. It really is like ‘giving the lawn a haircut’.

The lack of noise means you can mow early in the morning or later in the evening, there is no risk of annoying the neighbors with a manual mower.

Push mowers need little maintenance and are usually trouble free. The simplicity of the reel mower means that there is little ongoing maintenance to do, other than a drop of oil here and there and a simple blade sharpen once a season. This is actually really simple to do, no need to take an angle grinder to it.

And you don’t need to plug it in, fill the tank with fuel, spend 10 minutes sweating and cursing as it fail to start on the recoil starter. Nope, this mower is lightweight and gets to work in an instant.

Push mowers are non-polluting. Whether it’s electricity from coal-fired power stations, or gas/petrol from oil, there is no doubt that most powered things create pollution, or use polluting sources of energy.

The only pollution that comes from using a reel mower is possibly that from the owner, methane being a greenhouse gas as we know, but released in small, discreet quantities, I doubt you’ll effect the hole in the ozone layer too much.

Push reel mowers are cheap as chips. Relatively speaking, a push mower costs a fraction of the price of a powered lawn mower. Of course, there are some expensive models out there, but a typical model is going to cost less than 100, I bought mine in England for £56 GBP, which is around 85 USD. Here it is. Cheap but a beauty.

My Bosch reel mower before I mowed the lawn. It cut this grass with ease.

Reel mowers are good exercise, but not annoyingly so. I need to preface this before you start worrying about the hard work, grunting and sweating you will do with a manual mower. To be honest, I was pretty surprised at how easy it was to mow the lawn with it.

The are super lightweight, far lighter than my hover mower. There was no hard pushing, getting stuck, it really was just walking, nothing harder than that really. My wife, who habitually mowed the lawn, red in the face as she dragged the old mower back and forth, loved this new one. I loved it so much I used it every 2 days during the growing season, it was never a chore.

Which brings me on to my next point nicely.

Push reel mowers make mowing a pleasurable activity. Honest, I kid you not. Providing you mow regularly, don’t have a monstrous lawn and keep it clear of twigs and stones, the reel mower is a pleasure to use. There is something soothingly mesmerizing about the sound, the neat trimmings of grass flying though the air as if cut by a surgeon’s scalpel.

There’s a reward to seeing your lawn looking better than it ever has, neat rolled lines like a cricket pitch or bowling green. And you did that yourself, with just your own power and a bit of help from that simple design that has changed little in 150 years.

The day of the mow. I love the striped effect the reel mower gives with it’s integral roller.

Pretty nice huh? But as with everything, there are downsides too, although if I am honest, I haven’t experienced and yet. But I’m sure I will at some point.

Safety is much better with manual mowers. Unless you are able to find your fingers into the mower mechanism while you push it along, the chance of serious injury or accidental amputation are massively reduced with the reel mower.

In this study from the University of Missouri, statistics showed 75,000 Americans injured each year from mower accidents, 10,000 of them children. Flying debris was a major factor.

And get this! 600 children per year suffer mower related amputations. source.

Do the benefits outweigh the limitations? That’s for you to decide.

TOP 5: Best Reel Mower [2022] | Cut your grass without the pollutants! #shorts

Cons And Limitations Of Reel Mowers

There are some limitations. I wouldn’t even really call them ‘cons’. There are circumstances this type of mower is not right for the job. Here are some things to consider.

Push mowers don’t like twigs and stones. If you have mature trees in your garden, that shed twigs all over the lawn, you’re going to be up against it as those twigs end up jammed between the mowing cylinder and the blades.

Leave the grass to grow too long and you’ll struggle. Not really a limitation of the mower, more a limitation of the homeowner. but let’s face it, reel mowers are incredible effective and cleanly cutting grass that hasn’t been allowed to grow too long.

You can still do it, but it will often take 2-3 passes over the same area to get it down to a reasonable length.

Mowing can take a little longer as the width of cut may not be as wide as on your usual mower, and you also need to overlap the mowing strip a little.

BUT, my personal experience is different. By the time we got the electric rotary mower out of the shed, then grabbed the extension cord, plugged it in and dragged the thing kicking and screaming over the lawn, we were hot, sweaty and red-faced.

The new reel mower was almost effortless and took only 8-10 minutes to mow the entire lawn. Much quicker when you take set up into account.

Is A Reel Mower The Right Choice For YOU?

Ok, we’ve covered the pros and cons, including little kids getting their fingers chopped off. ouch! But before you head off and grab a reel mower from the local store or from those nice folks at Amazon, it’s important to make sure your lawn fits some basic criteria that will ensure success.

Is your yard too big? A reel mower is totally fine for a relatively undulating lawn on a medium sized plot, say up to around 1/2 acre. Much bigger and you’re going to be taking a lot of time to get round it. Of course, there are powered reel mowers too, which is always worth considering.

Is your yard lumpy and excessively bumpy? The reel mower does a much better job on lawns that aren’t full of bumps and craters. It does not need to be like a golf course, but the wheels need to be in good contact with the ground as they drive the cutting cylinder.

If it’s just one part of your lawn, you can probably just use a weed whacker to tidy things up.

Do you hate to leave the clippings down? Grass clippings make a great fertilizer, and usually end up going back into the lawn within a few days. Leaving them down will do wonders for your lawn, but if you hate the idea, then the reel mower might not be your best choice.

Mine came with a grass box, but I haven’t used it and don’t want to. The clippings vanish in no time.

What type of grass do you have? Reel mowers may have a harder time on grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia and St Augustine. There are models out there like the Fiskars that are designed to deal with those tough grasses, but it’s worthing bearing in mind before you buy.

I love my reel mower, I really do. It’s strange how something that I used to see as a kid (when I went to my grandparents house) should end up in my garden some 45 years later. Not the same one of course, but little has changed design-wise.

Having used my little mower for a couple of seasons, I’m actually at a loss to understand why these mowers (and the people who use them) are considered quirky and fanciful. Mine has been a revelation, and it’s actually made me enjoy mowing.

The reel lawn mower might not have changed much in a century and a half, but it didn’t need to. It’s cutting grass as well now as when Edwin Budding designed in all those years ago.

I recommend you try it, you might just be surprised. in a good way.

Best Reel Mowers for Your Lawn Needs

Choosing the best reel mower for your needs is crucial. Our buyer’s guide breaks down what you need to know and offers our recommendations.

By Kevin Espiritu Last updated: January 2, 2023 | 13 min read

If you want to keep your lawn well-manicured and your grass healthy, it’s time to invest in a reel mower. A push lawn mower is a perfect way to snip your grass without damaging it. Above all, it’s eco-friendly and, unlike gas-powered lawn mowers or electric mowers, you’ll never have to worry about engine maintenance or power needs!

But are all reel lawn mowers created equal? No, and that’s why we’re here. Here are our top recommendations if you’re looking for a reel mower for your yard. We’ll also break down the most crucial elements of its construction and durability that you’ll need to watch for to get a sturdy, long-lasting product.

Best Reel Mower Reviews

Great States 5-Blade Reel Lawn Mower

  • Manual mechanical mower with a quick, adjustable.
  • Lightweight lawn mower has 16 cutting width.
  • Push blade mower with high-quality heat-treated.

The first on our list is the Great States 415-16 push reel lawn mower, known for its excellent cutting power. With an adjustable blade height of 0.5-2.5″, this mower does a fantastic job of manicuring your lawn.

We chose it as our top pick due to the blade quality – constructed with heat-treated alloy steel, the blades retain their sharpness for a long time, making this reel mower a quality long-term investment. The sharpness of the blades allows you to create neat borders along your lawn. The mower comes with a cushioned and comfortable grip that is easier to push, even on the most overgrown lawn

All it needs is one push to get it started, making it a no-hassle manual lawn mower. The Great States 415-16 reel lawn mower is also lightweight, making it easy to maneuver across the yard.

The reels snip the grass off without any ripping or tearing, resulting in a well-trimmed, smooth lawn. And, if this wasn’t enough, the mower is also easy to store. You can hang it on a wall or tuck it in the corner of your garage.

  • Blade height adjustment of 0.5”-2.5” for clean grass cut
  • 16” cutting width with 5-blade ball bearing reel
  • Smooth, composite wheels are easy to maneuver across the yard

Scotts Outdoor Power Tools Reel Lawn Mower

  • Classic Scotts 20 inch push no-motor manual reel.
  • Quick-snap 1-3 cutting height adjustment for a.
  • Blades on the Scotts classic hand push reel rotary.

Our pick for the best-value reel mower for healthy, precision cutting is the Scotts 2000-20. They’ve really outdone themselves with this one. With a 20” cutting swath, the mower efficiently snips off grass in one single go without any tears or rips. You won’t ever have to run Scotts 2000-20 mower over your yard multiple times.

The blades are constructed with heat-treated alloy steel that stay sharper for longer and cut the grass with amazing precision. Blades can be adjusted from 1-3″ inches. The dual-tracking wheels enhance maneuverability on the lawn, allowing you to create a smooth green carpet.

Scotts 2000-20 Outdoor Power tools mower does its job exceptionally well. Its mower features ergonomic, cushioned handles that ensure proper posture as you mow the lawn. Assembly is easy and quick with no additional tools needed. This lawn mower is one of the best manual lawn mowers on the list at its price point as it’s easy to operate, store, and use.

  • 20” cutting width allows less passes over your lawn
  • Blade height adjustment from 1-3″ inches for a precision trim
  • Cushioned, ergonomic handle for easy grip
  • No-tool assembly
  • Wheels can degrade quicker than other models
  • Blades degrade quicker than other higher-priced picks

Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower

  • Quality Yardcare Tools: Designed to help you take.
  • Advanced Technology for best-in-class cutting.
  • Superior Ergonomics: Reversible grass chute can.

Fiskars has re-defined reel mowers for lawns. With an 18-inch cutting swath, this reel mower takes only a few minutes to get the job done.

The quality of the StaySharp Max Fiskars reel mower blades allows you to cut grass for years without ever needing re-sharpening. Fiskars mower blades cut without any unwanted contact with the grass. This means there are no rips or tears, making for a smooth lawn-mowing experience.

The Fiskars StaySharp Max is really easy to push and maneuver across the yard. With its InertiaDrive reel, Fiskars performs with a superior cutting power to trim down tough spots without any damage to the grass. Fiskars also features a reversible grass chute that works amazingly to direct the clippings forward and prevent any mess. The cutting height is adjustable from 1-4″ inches, which is ideal for trimming down thicker tufts of grass.

The only possible drawback is that Fiskars is slightly heavier than other mowers. At 51 pounds, you will find it tedious to push it across the yard after a while. You might also want to store it in your garage instead of hanging it on the floor. Finally, the Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower also comes with a 3-year warranty should anything go wrong.

  • StaySharp cutting system ensures long-lasting blades
  • InertiaDrive reel delivers superior cutting power and easily cuts through thick grass
  • Inset wheels that allow blades to work across the mower’s full width
  • Limited 3-year warranty
  • At 51lb it’s heavier than other models
  • Doesn’t perform well on a grade, common of all push mowers

American Lawn Mower Co. Push Reel Lawn Mower

  • 4-blade reel mower with a cutting width of 14”.
  • This push lawn mower has an adjustable blade.
  • Manual grass cutter is environment-friendly.

The 4-blade classic push reel lawn mower by the American Lawn Mower Company is a fantastic, durable choice. With its 8.5” composite wheels, this mower is easier to push on a big yard. It comes with an adjustable height of 0.5”-1.75” for optimal grass-cutting. The blades are built from heat-treated alloy steel, which keeps them sharp for a long time.

This is a low-maintenance mower and an eco-friendly alternative to electric-powered mowers. The high-quality 4-blade system can snip various grass types, like bluegrass, rye, and fescue with supreme versatility.

The machine also has a T-shaped ergonomic cushioned handle that allows for an easy, comfortable grip. All in all, this 4-blade push reel lawn mower does a super-efficient and quiet job at cutting the grass with zero hassles.

  • Efficient scissor-like grass cutting action
  • 4 smooth-spinning blades that snip the grass without damaging it
  • Height adjustability of 0.5”-1.75” for optimal grass-cutting
  • Easy-roll wheels make the mower easy to push and maneuver
  • Difficult to snip a lush, thick turf
  • Might have to go twice over a piece of ground for proper grass cutting

GreenWorks Reel Lawn Mower

  • 18 Cutting path gets the job done quicker and.
  • 2-In-1 feature provides mulching and rear bag.
  • 9 position height adjustment offers a range of.

Next up is the 18-inch reel lawn mower by GreenWorks. This one has simple and practical features to get the job done quickly. The wide 18” cutting path will allow you to snip the grass more efficiently and in less amount of time. The mower also comes with a 2-in-1 feature with rear bag and mulching capabilities. This can serve as a lawn fertilizer while protecting you from the mess as you mow the lawn.

GreenWorks also features a versatile height adjustment with a cutting height between 1.75-2.75″ inches. This range can cover almost every grass type without running the mower over it multiple times. However, the main reason why this manual mower stands out is its dynamic wheel system. With 10” forward wheels and 4” rear wheels, these rotary mowers make maneuvering across the thickest tufts of grass a breeze.

  • 18” cutting path with fast scissor-cutting action
  • Rear bag and mulching features to fertilize the lawn while clipping
  • Dynamic 10” wheel and 4” rear wheels
  • Build quality isn’t durable over 3 years unless you’re careful
  • Not good for thick, tough lawns

Sun Joe Manual Reel Mower

  • [REEL MOWER]: Ideal to quickly mow Small to.
  • [ADJUSTABLE]: Tailor your cutting Height settings.
  • [RAZOREEL]: 5 durable Steel blades swiftly slice.

The 16″ Sun Joe manual reel mower is ideal for small lawns and yards. It is also the best reel mower for creating aesthetic borders around the boundary of your lawn. Its easy height adjustability and lightweight quality allow precision cutting in a short amount of time. Built with a rust-resistant deck, the mower will remain in pristine quality for a long time.

With two large 10” wheels and two smaller 6” wheels, this reel mower makes maneuvering on the lawns extremely easy. The comfortable foam grip and manual height adjustment with 9 potential settings make the Sun Joe Manual reel mower a good pick at the cheapest price on our list. However, this model does not include a grass catcher — if you want a grass catcher included, consider one of the others.

  • Excellent for small lawns
  • Comfortable foam grip to make pushing easier
  • 10″ forward wheels and 6″ rear wheels
  • Rust-resistant deck and lightweight
  • The front wheels aren’t as durable as other models
  • Height adjustment a bit too low
  • Noisier than expected

Earthwise Push Reel Lawn Mower

  • Hand-push reel mower with 16 cutting width.
  • Versatile Earthwise Power Tools by ALM push lawn.
  • Alloy steel 7-blade mower stays sharp longer

The 16-inch Earthwise push reel mower offers some real advantages to gardeners. Earthwise has really outdone itself with this low-maintenance and zero-hassle machine. Perfect for both small and big yards, all the reel mower needs is a nice push to get started. If you’re ready for some exercise, mowing the lawn with this machine is going to be a wonderful experience.

But perhaps what truly makes it the best is its easy usage and storage. The lightweight build makes it super easy to move around and maneuver over the thickest of grasses. You can park this reel mower in a garage or hang it over a wall until the next use.

With the 7-blade ball-bearing deck, this reel mower is perfect for cutting through grass with precision in a short amount of time. You can cover large areas in one single sweep without having to run the mower multiple times. Blade quality is also quite nice at this price point.

  • 16” cutting width with 7-blade ball bearing reel
  • 10″ composite wheels with a side steel plate
  • 0.5-2.5” adjustable cutting height
  • The rollers on the blades can cause the mower to lock up sometimes
  • Height is adjustable but requires unscrewing the wedges

What Is a Reel Mower?

Reel mowers feature a cutting reel that comprises 3-7 blades and a bed knife. They’re built with either two or four wheels to allow for noiseless, fast-cutting mowing of a lawn. When the mower is pushed forward, the blades begin to spin vertically. The motion causes the mower blades to lift the grass between themselves and the bed knife, in turn clipping off the grass blades in a scissor-like action.

Compared to cylinder reel mowers used in the past, these new models are easier to push and result in a cleaner, healthier lawn. The biggest benefit of reel mowers is that they don’t tear or rip the lawn during the cutting process. Like rotary mowers, reel mowers don’t hurt individual grass blades.

Are Reel Mowers Effective?

Reel mowers or push lawn mowers are effective as they improve the health of your grass, but they aren’t as powerful as electric or gas-powered mowers. The mower blades use a scissor-like cutting action that doesn’t tear up the grass blades.

The snipping action of a reel mower allows the grass to retain its natural moisture, thereby making it more resistant against insects and diseases. Grass blades become weak and vulnerable to diseases when they’re habitually torn or ripped apart as they would be with a traditional lawnmower.

Above all, most reel mowers are noiseless and extremely easy to use. All they require is a push to get the cutting started on the lawn. They are also economical and are relatively low maintenance. They don’t even require any gas or oil for power, resulting in zero fuel costs. Easy to assemble and lightweight with lots of bonus features, a push lawn mower is a great one-time investment for your lawn.

If you live in a close-knit neighborhood, the grinding sounds of a rotary mower can quickly annoy people…trust me! On the other hand, push mowers only make a gentle ‘snip-snip-snip’ sound. Before you know it, the job is done.

Lastly, push mowers are excellent for the environment. They don’t use any fuel and hence, don’t contribute to pollution. Push mowers are simple, practical, and hassle-free machines for modern gardeners.

Features of Reel Mowers

To determine the best reel mower for you, it’s important to analyze its different features. There are many things that constitute a high-quality reel mower. Here we’ve explained the major features of a reel mower.

Blade Cutting Height

A reel mower usually has an adjustable cutting height of a few inches, usually 1-3 inches. Staying in these parameters allows the blades to neatly cut the grass without harming it in the long term. Adjusting the blades at a proper height depends on the length of your grass blades.

By setting the right blade cutting height, your grass remains more vigorous and healthy.

Number of Blades

The number of mower blades greatly influences the performance of the machine. The number indicates how many times the blades can cut through the grass within a meter-long span. For example, a 5-blade reel with a high number of revolutions will result in cleaner and well-trimmed grass as compared to a 10-blade reel with a low number of revolutions.

A high revolution count can easily damage the blades with aggressive cutting. This can also influence the service life of the reels and the quality of their sharpness. The ideal rule is to ensure a high-quality cut with a moderate number of blades, somewhere between 4-7.

Blade Durability

The blades of a rotary mower can be aggressive and, therefore, not that durable. The rough cutting motion causes the blades to lose their sharpness quickly. When buying a reel mower, always make sure that the blades are constructed with high-quality material, preferably alloy steel.

A reel mower whose blades are heated with alloy steel tends to stay sharper for longer. Alloy steel has an extremely high tensile strength, which makes the blade resistant to corrosion and extremely durable over many uses.

Swath Width

The standard swath width of a good reel mower ranges from 15-20 inches. A wide swath width would mean that you have to mow more frequently. This can also make the machine difficult to push because the grass can become resistant. Therefore, a good swath width is around18 inches, which will help you use the mower blades to their maximum capacity.


If you have a uniform and level lawn, you can use any reel mower. However, if your yard is bumpy or slightly sloped, you should look for a reel mower that can cut across different angles. This way, you won’t have to run the mower multiple times across the same path.

Grass Spray

All the grass a reel mower cuts will eventually have to go somewhere. If you don’t want to be covered in the clippings, you can use a frontal grass spray to keep your feet away from the mess or select a mower with a grass catch.


It’s important to choose a lightweight reel mower as the weight can be a huge problem the longer you push the mower. You might be tempted to choose a heavy reel mower for a big lawn as it’s easier to push over a large area. That’s not a bad idea, provided you won’t become fatigued. Lighter machines are easier to push but can also not adhere as well to the ground over bumpy surfaces. The best reel mower will be light enough to push easily for a long period of time while still being heavy enough to effectively do the job.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Reel Mower

There are many factors to consider when you are looking for the perfect reel mower. When choosing a reel mower for your lawn, you need to inspect its effectiveness, affordability, maintenance, and price. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose a reliable reel mower – one that your lawn will love.


The best reel mower will quickly prove its effectiveness on the lawn. Choosing a manual mower over the electric-powered one helps reduce carbon emissions. It also eliminates a major concern of damaging the grass due to tearing and ripping.

A high-quality reel mower should have an excellent cutting height and durable blades to be effective on different grass carpets.


The best reel mowers offer great cutting power at an affordable price. Most budget models don’t cost more than 70, while premium ones are usually around 200. But perhaps the biggest financial benefit of reel mowers is that after the initial investment, they’re virtually cost-free. There are no fuel charges or replacement costs involved.


Reel mowers are essentially built for mowing short grass. So, yes, you may face limitations with mowing grass taller than 4 inches. You will need to go over a few passes initially. However, maintaining the lawn is usually easy after that.

But keep in mind that due to their manual nature, even the best reel mowers are only practical for small or medium yards that are less than 3000 sq ft. Anything larger than this will require an electric, gas, or sit-on-top mower.


One good thing about a reel mower is that it’s far more affordable than one powered by gas or electricity. Most of them usually cost under 200 and have zero maintenance or operating costs. A reel mower is truly a one-time investment for your garden.


The greatest benefit of a reel mower is that it’s maintenance-free. It doesn’t require any fuel, which means no oil changes, charging, refueling, or replacement parts. All you have to do is sharpen the blades once every few years.

Size of Your Lawn

Again, reel mowers are suited for small and medium-sized yards. This is because the average cutting width of these mowers is usually 14”-20”. Pushing them across a large-sized lawn will make the task extremely tedious.

Using a Reel Mower

The best reel mowers are those that are easy to use. Since the entire exercise is manual, a high-quality reel mower should offer easy maneuverability on the lawn. Here’s a quick guide to help you use your reel mower.

Sharpening Reel Mower Blades

The most major maintenance of a reel mower is sharpening its blades. Thankfully, you don’t have to sharpen the blades often as alloy steel doesn’t dull very quickly. They retain their sharp cutting edges for a long time. However, after a few years, it’s time to give them a quick sharpening.

Start by checking the alignment of the reel. If it’s fine, then sharpen the blades. You can do this with a backlapping sharpening kit. The kit usually offers a sharpening compound with a handle. Attach the handle to the driving gear of the reel mower and use a normal brush to put the sharpening compound on each of the blades.

Now, twist the mower in a reverse direction so that the blades can scrape each other down and become sharp again. While this is the best way to sharpen the blades, you can also do the job using a power drill with a sharpening attachment.

Cutting Tall or Thick Grass

Even when reel mowers are excellent for maintaining healthy and well-hydrated grass, they can get blocked while operating in overgrown lawns with thick or tall grass. It can be hard to push them forward. If your grass is taller than 4 inches, you can still use a manual lawn mower, but you will need a little patience.

The best technique is to mow by overlapping. What this means is that once you’re done mowing one row, you should turn back with your mower and start clipping while overlapping the previously mowed ground by a few inches. This will ensure that there are no high streaks of grass between each mowed row.

You can also do the job using the checkerboard pattern. Mow the lawn twice, except the second time, mow in the opposite direction. The crisscross pattern will ensure that there are no thick tufts of grass remaining.

Can You Run Mower Without Blade? – don’t do it!

Many people ask me about starting their mower engine without the blade, so much so, I wrote a post explaining all.

Many small engines are designed specifically for mowers and as such require the extra mass of a moving blade to help rotate the crankshaft on the compression stroke past top dead center (TDC). Starting such an engine without the blade may cause personal injury and damage the engine.

In this post, you’ll learn why most mower engines require a blade to run correctly. If you need video help, check out “Replacing mower blade video”.

Most mower engines won’t start without a blade attached.

Small Engine Types

There are two common engine configurations, the Vertical crankshaft, and the Horizontal crankshaft layout. Vertical and Horizontal crankshaft is self-explanatory. The orientation of the crank will naturally lend itself more suitable to one task over another.

Horizontal Engine

It’s not possible to turn a Horizontal shaft engine vertically and simply call it a Vertical engine. These engines have been designed to operate in their particular configuration. For example, most small engine oil systems are splash lube, it relies on splash paddles hitting a puddle of oil at the base of the engine. You can see the problem here. But the differences go deeper than that, as we’ll see shortly.

Horizontal small engines are designed to suit many applications, unlike vertical engines. The Horizontal engine is more common generally. They are best suited to driving power washers, water pumps, cement mixers, tillers, snowblowers, etc. They are not designed specifically for anyone single purpose and as such will run just as well with or without an attachment on the crankshaft.

Vertical Engine

Mower engines on the other hand are a little different. They are known as vertical shaft engines. Vertical shaft engines by their layout are perfectly adapted to sitting on top of a mower deck with a blade fastened to the crankshaft underneath.

Most of these types of engines are designed to have a blade fitted, meaning, the mass of the rotating blade is factored into the overall design of the motor. I say most mowers because some manufacturers employ a feature like Toro’s Spin Stop. They use a separate control lever to engage the blade. This feature allows the engine to run without the blade spinning, useful for propelling the mower across graveled areas.

Higher-end Honda mowers also sport this feature. If your mower has this feature then your engine will comfortably run without a blade attached. Likewise, tractor mower engines will run happily without blades attached, since they aren’t designed to have a blade fitted directly to the crankshaft.

Why Does Mower Need Blade To Start

Before explaining why a mower requires a blade, it’s helpful to know a little about the four strokes of an engine cycle. Once understood, the purpose of sufficient mass to rotate the engine becomes clear.

Stroke 1 Induction – As the piston travels down the cylinder the intake valve opens. Gas and air mixture enter the cylinder.

As the piston nears the bottom of the cylinder the intake valve closes.

Stroke 2 Compression – The piston meets resistance as it travels back up the cylinder, all valves are closed. Gas and air mixture is forced towards the combustion chamber at the top of the cylinder by the piston.

(It’s momentum, helped by the mass of rotating crankshaft, flywheel and blade that powers this stroke).

Stroke 3 Power – As the piston passes the very top of the cylinder travel (TDC), the plug fires and the explosion drives the piston downwards towards the bottom of the cylinder.

This of course also drives the blade which cuts the grass.

Stroke 4 Exhaust – This is the last of the four strokes of a complete cycle. The piston begins to travel back up the cylinder and the exhaust valve opens to allow spent gases to exit through the muffler.

As the piston reaches the top of the cylinder, the exhaust valve closes and the whole cycle begins again.

Mower Engine Needs A Rotating Mass

Flywheel Adds Mass

All small engines (vertical and horizontal) require a rotating mass to drive the piston when it’s not under power. This is especially true on the compression stroke, where the piston meets lots of resistance as it squashes the fuel mix into the combustion chamber.

To help the engine achieve sufficient rotational momentum, it employs weight in the form of a crankshaft, flywheel and of course, the blade is factored when the engine is designed for a mower.

If a moving object has sufficient mass (weight), it will carry momentum. Without the required mass rotating at a sufficient speed (mower blade spins at over 200 mph at the tip), the resistance the piston meets on the compression stroke would simply overcome the rotational force on the crankshaft and the engine loses its momentum. Firing the plug now easily causes the engine to reverse track, aka kickback.

Spinning Blade Adds Mass

Running Mower Without Blade Is Dangerous

Attempting to start a mower without a blade is dangerous, the lack of crankshaft momentum causes the engine to kick back. Kickback occurs when you pull the starter cord to start the engine and the cord is snapped from your hand sharply. The cord often whips you as it snaps back and sometimes breaks the pull handle. This can be a painful experience and is more commonly associated with a broken shear-key.

You can read more about a shear-key here.

Broken Shear-key

Running Mower Without Blade Risks Engine Damage

Running the mower engine without the blade risks damaging the crankshaft or shear-key. Blades aren’t universal, a mower engine is designed to run with a specific blade, by specific I mean not only correct length and width but also mass and lift.

As an engine approaches top dead center, and if it isn’t carrying sufficient momentum. As the plug fires, it causes the crankshaft to rotate in the wrong direction, snapping the cord from your hand as it does so. If you need video help, check out “Fitting mower shear-key video”, which covers the complete process from diagnosis to replacing, or check out a post I wrote here “Replacing a shear-key”.

Hey, I’m John, and I’m a Red Seal Qualified Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience.

I’ve worked on all types of mechanical equipment, from cars to grass machinery, and this site is where I share fluff-free hacks, tips, and insider know-how.

And the best part. it’s free!

Reel vs Rotary Lawn Mowers // Pros and Cons, Cut Quality, How To Mow Low

Definitions : Reel and Rotary

A Reel Mower is a mower in which the blades spin vertically (north to south) and use a scissoring action to cut the blades of grass. A reel mower should have between three and seven blades, depending on the model type.

  • Golf courses are most often cut with reel mowers which are pulled by a tractor.
  • A Reel mower pushed by people does not cut very high grass as well or as easily.
  • However, once the lawn is under control, the scissor-like cut of a reel mower is healthier for the lawn.
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A Reel mower snips the grass, cutting each blade like a pair of scissors. It’s a precise, clean cut that makes for a healthier and more attractive lawn.

A Rotary Mower is a mower in which the blade spins horizontally (east to west) and uses a sucking and tearing action to cut the blades of grass. Rotary mowers usually have one blade which rotates very fast. The rotary mower design is simple and adapts very well to small engines. Rotary mowers can cut a wide variety of grass conditions. Rotary mowers are usually powered by gas engines or electric engines.

Over the course of a cutting season, leaving lawn clippings as you mow is equivalent to a free application of fertilizer.

Mulching (Grasscycling) means laying a blanket of organic matter over the lawn which helps to retain moisture and add nutrients. With the cutting action of a reel mower you can leave reel clippings on the lawn. A reel mower creates a fine spray of clippings that act as a mulch and decompose quickly, releasing nitrogen into the lawn. Over the course of a cutting season, that mulch is equivalent to a free application of fertilizer.

Many states (24 at this writing) and Washington, D.C., have passed laws banning the disposal of yard waste, including grass clippings in landfills. According to the Composting Council, yard trimmings are the second largest component of municipal solid waste (18 percent or 35 million tons).The Professional Lawn Care Association of America is promoting Grasscycling. This term means either composting or mulching the clippings where they are produced.

Reel Mowers

Earthwise 16 Bent Reel Mower

165.00 FREE shipping

This reel mower is specifically designed to cut low-growing, creeping grasses.

Earthwise 18 Quiet Cut Reel Mower

189.00 35 shipping

The Earthwise 18-inch Quiet Cut Reel Mower features a non-contact quiet reel system for quieter and smoother operation.

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Scotts 20 Classic Reel Mower

169.00 30 shipping

This large reel mower cuts as wide as a traditional gas powered mower but without the harm to the environment and loud noise.

Hudson Star Classic Cut Mower Reel Mower

2190.00 FREE shipping

Hudson Star Greensmowers have lower cutting heights than most reel mowers and will mow low enough for a putting green.

Rotary Mowers

Earthwise 20 Cordless Electric Lawn Mower

139.00 31.99 shipping

The Earthwise 14 Corded electric mower delivers the performance of a rotary lawn mower without gas, oil or pollution.

Resources ::

PPM has enthusiatically developed an outreach page for gas mower emmissions and related research. Find:

What Happens If You Run A Lawn Mower Without Oil

It’s common knowledge that the moving parts of a machine need oil for lubrication to function effectively. However, you could find yourself in odd situations where oil gets depleted in your lawn mower while in use.

Sometimes this will happen without your knowledge catching you by surprise. Read the rest of the article to know what happens if you run a lawn mower without oil.

Can A Lawn Mower Engine Run Without Oil?

No, a lawn mower engine cannot run without oil. If you try to run it this way, you’re effectively killing it by damaging the engine parts beyond repair.

Whether your lawn mower engine is two or four-stroke, it requires oil during operation to smoothen the moving parts such as the crankshaft, the piston, and metal bearings.

Also, with oil, there is less friction— the temperature of the internal engine components remains at normal levels preventing the engine from overheating.


Several mechanical issues could arise if your lawn mower engine runs without oil. Typical signs include:

Other signs include loud knocking or rumbling sounds coming from the engine.

Your lawn mower engine will seize if it runs without oil longer, ultimately failing. The major culprit is the increased friction leading to overheating.

Substantial damage occurs to the metal parts causing small pieces to chip away. The other problem you’re staring at is poor lubrication leading to the crankshaft and pistons interlocking with other metal parts.

Additionally, you have to deal with the premature wearing of the piston rings, potentially resulting in low compression levels.

How Long Will A Lawn Mower Engine Run Without Oil?

As per various manufacturers, a lawn mower engine shouldn’t operate without oil. However, there could be scenarios where your engine runs short of oil during operation.

Different lawn mowers vary in their reaction to an oil shortage.

For the record, a two-minute oil shortage during use is enough to cause permanent damage to the engine. However, this is not cast in stone since some engines may still have room for repairs.

The parts that take the most beating with visible damage include the crankshaft, the piston, and the bearings.

How Do You Know When A Lawn Mower Needs Oil?

As already highlighted, oil is a vital component of your lawn mower engine to ensure its functionally operational.

However, too much oil is equally bad for your engine and is a major cause of leaks and hydro locking.

You should check the oil in your mower when the mower is parked on a level surface, and the engine is off.

The dipstick is usually found on the side of the engine. It has two marks; the top mark indicates a full oil level while the bottom mark indicates low oil levels.

The oil is at critically low levels below the lower mark.

Tip: Always turn the dipstick anticlockwise when removing it from the engine.

How To Correctly Add Oil To The Lawn Mower?

Once you’ve checked the oil levels in your engine and determined that the amount is insufficient, proceed with the steps below.

Given the small nature of some dipstick tubes, you may need to use a funnel for proper filling.

Add a little oil as you recheck the oil level. Keep adding and rechecking until the upper mark is reached.

Avoid the temptation to overfill beyond the upper mark.

What Should You Do If You Accidentally Start Your Lawn Mower Without Oil?

If you accidentally start your mower without oil, the first thing to do is to stop it immediately. Look at the below scenarios to assess the damage caused:

Scenario 1: The piston is still moving slowly.

There is a considerable chance your mower engine can roar back to life.

Scenario 2: The pistons and other parts are welded together.

There is little you can do about it.

If the former situation occurs, check the user’s manual for guidance on how to fix it. If that doesn’t seem to work out, you’re better off enlisting the services of a technician.