How To Cut Extremely Long Grass In 5 Easy Steps
If you’ve been away on a long summer vacation and returned to a garden that looks more like a meadow than a lawn, don’t worry.
It’s happened to all of us.
Sometimes it doesn’t even take a month-long vacation to face such a situation.
All you need is a week-long rainfall and, before you know it, your lawn starts to look like the Amazon jungle!
Want to get tips on how to cut extremely long grass? You’ve come to the right place.
I’ve put together everything you need to know and do to tame your wild lawn.
Tips for Tackling Your Overgrown Lawn
- Prepare your protective clothing: You’ll need gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, safety glasses, rubber boots, and ear protection when using the mower and trimmer.
- Inspect the lawn for debris: The area of the lawn that requires cutting must be free from tree branches, rocks, and any other debris. Otherwise, your grass-cutting machinery will get damaged.
- Keep pets and children away: Make sure your children and pets are moved to a safe area while you’re cutting the grass. In fact, no one should be nearby to avoid injury. You should also watch out for any creatures in your lawn, such as snakes, armadillos, or moles.
- Pause often: When tackling an overgrown lawn, remember to take a breather frequently as your mower or trimmer can easily overheat. Gas-powered mowers tend to stall out when they’ve been running too long.
- Cut the lawn in spring or summer: As a rule of thumb, never cut your overgrown grass in winter. The stress of regular trimming during the cold seasoncan wreak havoc on the grass’s recovery.
How you cut your overgrown lawn now will affect it for the rest of the season!
This is why you should carefully follow my recommendations to achieve the best results.
How To Cut tall Grass: A Step By Step Guide
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when tackling an overgrown lawn is to try and cut all the grass on the first pass.
NEVER attempt to cut more than 1/3 of your long grass in one session. It will damage the roots and encourage the spread of weeds.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, this task won’t be a day’s job to accomplish. So remember to only cut the top layer of your overgrown lawn and leave the rest for later.
These are the tools you’ll need for cutting tall grass:
- A string or blade trimmer
- Safety equipment (see my protective clothing section)
Step 1. Start by cutting long grass with a trimmer or weed eater. You can use a strong.080 or 0.95 trimmer line or blade trimmer before mowing your grass. Cut down a fraction of the grass (up to one-third) at a time.
Step 2. Once you’ve removed the top layer of the grass, use the trimmer again a couple of days later for the second round. Even if your grass is bent (this happens if the lawn has not been maintained for a year or so) a trimmer or scythe will efficiently cut the grass.
Step 3. To allow the lawn to recover, water it before leaving it for a week. This is a good opportunity for you to take a rest and put your feet up.
Step 4. After a week, it’s time for a second trim. Again use your trimmer or scythe to cut the grass down to less than 6 inches.
Step 5. Don’t forget to gather the grass clippings with a rake. You can always use them as mulch later.
Some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of using a string trimmer or weedeater to cut their overgrown lawn.
If you’re one of them, I have other suggestions. Go to the next part to learn how to cut extremely long grass using hand tools.
Tools To Cut Long Grass By Hand
Aside from a string trimmer, you also have the option of using basic grass-cutting tools to remove the top layer of your overgrown grass by hand.
The most common hand tools are scythes, garden sickles, and shears.
But how do cut extremely long grass with hand tools?
How To Use A Scythe
Stand in a comfortable position and hold the scythe by its horizontal handle. Using the muscles in your hips and thighs, start by swinging the blade with a back-and-forth motion and work your way through the grass.
For the best results, hold the cutting edge of the scythe parallel to the ground. This tool is ideal for cutting grass up to 2 feet tall.
But unless you are experienced at handling this tool it may be best to try shears or a sickle.
How To Use A Shear
This small hand tool is ideal for cutting small sections of the lawn. Hold the handle the same way as a scythe so that the blades are parallel to the ground.
Squeeze the shear blades together to close the blades and cut as you move slowly across the yard. Click to buy shears at Amazon.
How To Use A Sickle
Hold the sickle with your right hand as though you want to play golf. Use gentle back-handed strokes so the blade moves away from your body (no, I’m not teaching you how to play tennis!). Make sure no one is nearby as the blades are very sharp! Buy at Amazon.
Next comes the fun part…mowing tall grass. Follow the final steps and soon your jungle-like lawn will be back to how it should be.
Mowing Tall Grass
The mowing process will help get your grass down to the desired height. A previously trimmed lawn will be much easier to mow, though the task will require quite a lot of effort on your part.
Depending on the type of mower you have, you’ll need to adjust the height setting to between 4 and 6 inches. The goal is to make sure the final result is completely even.
A word of caution: don’t mow your lawn while the grass is wet. This will make it extra difficult to cut down plus your mower won’t even work properly.
If the grass is wet, wait a few days until it’s completely dry before starting to mow.
(Well, we did say the whole thing will take time…so be patient).
Here’s our step-by-step process for mowing tall grass:
Step 1. After adjusting the mower to the highest setting, make the first pass to reduce the grass height.
Be warned: this will be a long and slow task as the mower might struggle to work through the long grass. In case the machine stops, clean the blade area regularly to remove any blockage.
Now grab yourself a cold drink and take a pause.
Step 2. Time for the second pass. After you’ve reduced the grass height to a more manageable size during the first pass, change the mower setting by reducing the height of the blade before making a second pass.
Step 3. Remember to take your time just like you did before and clear out the blade during the cutting process. Otherwise, your mower just will not work properly.
Leave the lawn now for a few days to help it recover.
Step 4. After a few days have passed, the new haircut you’ve given your lawn will look more respectable.
Now it’s time for the third pass in order to get the lawn to its final height. Adjust your mower to its usual height, which is between 2 and 3 inches. This is the ideal setting for your lawn.
Now go over your lawn one more time so you can achieve a nice even finish.
Before you pat yourself on the back and put all your tools away… there is the dreaded clearing of grass clippings. It’s all part of the process.
Step 5. For larger lawns, a leaf blower will efficiently clear up the clippings from the sidewalks. A broom will suffice for smaller lawns.
Depending on the size of your lawn, the cleaning part could well be a day’s job so you might want to leave it until the following day.
Must-Have Tools For Cutting Tall Grass
When cutting tall grass there are four stand-out tools. If you have access to power tools, start off with a string trimmer or weed eater and trim down to around 4-6 inches.
If cutting grass by hand, start off with a sickle or grass scythe, working your way down to a mowable length of around 3-4 inches.
For large lawns, opt for a gas-powered mower. An electric lawnmower is best used for small yards within the restriction of cable length.
A push reel mower is ideal for thick grass but it does require a certain amount of energy. There is also the battery-powered self-propelled mower that comes with 7 height settings and 20 inches of cutting diameter.
If you’re looking for the best gas or electric lawn mowers, we did a detail review of each one. Check them out.
Weed Eater Or Trimmer
You have the option between gas, electric, or cordless weed eaters. This tool makes the job of cutting long grass easier than a mower and is perfect for clearing areas of long overgrown weeds or brush.
Once you get the hang of using a trimmer, you’ll be able to maintain your lawn preventing it from turning into a micro-jungle.
A battery-powered grass trimmer provides you will complete flexibility and movement around your lawn and yard.
Corded models generally leave you restricted to the cord length and the potential of the cord catching on objects or damaging flower beds.
For detailed insight into how to choose the best trimmer for your garden check out the article below 8 Best Cordless Battery Operated Weed Eaters, featuring a detailed buying guide and giving a first-hand review of the best premium and budget weed eaters on the market right now.
This is a single short-handled tool made to be used with one hand. The inner curve of the sickle’s blade is the sharp part.
A sickle is easy to store and much lighter than a trimmer, but it’s typically used for cutting small patches of grass.
With each slash, you can easily remove the overgrown grass, even if it’s up to a meter high!
The final tool we will look at is one of the most common hand tools for cutting long grass. Unlike a sickle that has a single hand, a scythe is a two-handed tool.
It consists of a metal or wooden shaft, which is around 6 feet in length with an S-curve or straight shape.
The handle of the scythe is adjustable and the size of the blade can be anywhere from 2 to 4 feet long.
Stop Overgrown Grass Before It Happens
By now, you’ve become familiar with how to cut extremely long grass using some of the tools I’ve mentioned above. But wouldn’t it be better to avoid getting yourself into this situation in the first place?
Setting up regular mowing at intervals is all it takes to help you prevent an overgrown lawn.
The next time you put your doctor’s visit or a party date on your phone’s calendar, don’t forget to include the mowing task as an alert.
Tip: If you’re going on vacation, mow the lawn the day before you leave. You don’t want to return and face the arduous task of mowing tall grass in your backyard.
My Final Thoughts On Cutting Overgrown Grass
When you’re dealing with an overgrown lawn, learning how to cut extremely long grass with the right tools is essential to prevent damaging your lawn and affecting its recovery.
Once you get the hang of using a weed eater or a scythe, you’ll easily accomplish the task without hiring professional help!
FAQs about how to cut extremely long grass
What is the easiest way to cut long grass?
The easiest way to cut long grass is by using a string trimmer or weed eater to gradually trim the top layer of the grass. This prevents overloading the mower and allows for more manageable cutting.
How do I cut long grass in my backyard?
To cut long grass in your backyard, follow these steps:
Use a trimmer or weed eater to cut the top layer of the grass in sections.
Wait for a few days to allow the grass to recover.
Make a second pass with the trimmer or a lawnmower set at a lower height.
Repeat the process until the grass is at the desired height.
Use a rake to gather the grass clippings.
Can grass be too tall to mow?
Yes, grass can be too tall to mow. If the grass is excessively tall, it can overwhelm the lawnmower, clog the blades, and result in an uneven cut.
In such cases, it is recommended to gradually trim the grass with a string trimmer or weed eater before attempting to mow it with a lawnmower.
This approach ensures better results and prevents damage to the mower.
Can A Zero-Turn Mower Cut Tall Grass?
As long as you don’t let the grass get more than 6 inches tall you can use a zero-turn mower.
When dealing with taller grass and weeds, your zero-turn may get damaged or clogged. Use a gas-powered string trimmer instead for better results.
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Manage Tall Grass: How Tall Of Grass Can a Lawn Mower Cut
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Are you a new homeowner who wants to learn more about lawn care? If so, you may wonder how tall grass your lawn mower can cut.
Knowing this information is important for ensuring that your grass stays healthy and taken care of and for understanding when it’s time to break out the clippers or buy a bigger mower.
The good news is that with some basic knowledge of the subject and perhaps even a straightforward test, you can determine precisely how tall your lawnmower can safely handle it!
In this blog post, we’ll walk through what factors go into determining maximum cutting height and talk about strategies for successfully managing taller grass.
How Tall Grass Can Lawn Mower Cut
Mowing your lawn can be overwhelming, especially for those with yards full of tall grass.
While most lawnmowers have a maximum cutting height of four inches, there are ways to extend this to accommodate taller grass.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the ideal height for cutting grass, the maximum height your lawn mower can cut, the benefits of keeping your lawn at a reasonable height, and the types of lawn mowers that can cut taller grass.
We’ll also look at safety tips and the best time to cut your tall grass with a lawn mower. Finally, we’ll offer some tips on maximizing efficiency when cutting tall grass with a lawn mower.
What is the Ideal Height for Cutting Grass?
The ideal height for cutting grass depends on your grass type. For cool-season grass such as Kentucky bluegrass and fescue, the general rule of thumb is to cut the grass to a height of two inches.
The ideal height for warm-season grass such as Bermuda and zoysia is slightly taller, usually between three and four inches.
Keeping your grass at an appropriate height helps maintain a healthy lawn and allows more air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots.
What Are the Benefits of Cutting Grass to a Specific Height?
Cutting grass to a specific height has several benefits.
First, it helps to keep weeds from taking over your lawn. Weeds thrive in taller grass, so keeping the grass mowed helps to suppress weed growth.
Additionally, cutting the grass to a specific height can help promote healthier and more vigorous growth.
Different grass varieties have different optimal heights for mowing; however, the general rule of thumb is to cut no more than one-third of the grass blade at any given time.
Cutting your grass too short can rob it of food-producing chlorophyll, weakening plants, and possible disease.
Lastly, cutting your grass to a specific height is essential for aesthetic purposes. A well-maintained lawn can add curb appeal and value to your home.
What is the Maximum Height Your Lawn Mower Can Cut?
It is important to know the maximum height your lawn mower can cut before attempting to cut tall grass.
Generally, the top setting for most mowers gives a cutting height between 3.25 and 4 inches.
This is the ideal height for most grasses, and cutting no more than one-third of the grass at a time will help keep your grass healthy.
However, if your lawn is taller than this after the initial trim, it is possible to cut through dense grass with a mower like this Makita commercial strength set to the highest position possible.
Riding mowers like this Husqvarna below are designed to cut grass up to 8 inches tall, while robotic mowers can handle heights up to 4 inches.
Every variety of grass has an ideal cutting height; however, a common mistake people make with their lawn is thinking they have to mow all the grass down to the same height.
Inching into fall, mid-length grass is the preference. In winter, tall grass can get matted down by snow and will not suffer from being left in a slightly longer state.
By knowing your lawn mower’s maximum cutting height and familiarizing yourself with the specific needs of the grass in your yard, you can ensure that your lawn looks its best regardless of the season.
The Benefits of Keeping Your Lawn at a Reasonable Height
Keeping your lawn at a reasonable height has many benefits. Mowing your lawn regularly helps to maintain its overall health by promoting grass growth and preventing weed growth.
Your lawn will also look more aesthetically pleasing when mowed to an appropriate height, as it will appear well-groomed and manicured.
Additionally, cutting your lawn at a reasonable height helps to reduce the risk of pests and diseases taking hold, as long grass can become a breeding ground for harmful pests and diseases.
Lastly, keeping your lawn at a reasonable height will help promote water retention in the soil, reducing the need for water during dry periods.
The Pros and Cons of Cutting Taller Grass with a Lawn Mower
Cutting taller grass with a lawn mower has both pros and cons. On the one hand, it can be done in a pinch if you don’t have access to a larger mower or trimmer.
Additionally, it is easier to maneuver a lawn mower than other mowers, making it well-suited for cutting taller grass in small areas.
On the other hand, cutting taller grass with a lawn mower is more labor-intensive than with other mowers.
Then it would help if you considered that your blades may not cut through the grass evenly, and the cut pieces may be uneven and patchy.
Further, it is more difficult to make tight turns when cutting tall grass with a lawn mower, making it more challenging to achieve a uniform cut.
How to Adjust the Height of Your Lawn Mower Blades
Cutting grass to an ideal height is an integral part of lawn care, and adjusting the height of your lawn mower blades is easy and can be done quickly.
Most modern lawnmowers have a lever or knob that adjusts the height of the blade.
Check your mower’s manual for specific instructions on adjusting the blade height. Generally, you can adjust the blade height by adjusting the lever or knob on your mower.
Once you have adjusted the blade height, ensure all four wheels are on the same level before you mow. This will ensure that you get an even cut across your lawn.
Also, ensure you use the proper settings for your particular type of grass. Some grasses need to be cut higher than others.
For example, cool-season grasses should be cut at two inches, while warm-season grasses should be cut at the height of three inches.
Types of Lawn Mowers That Can Cut Taller Grass
When cutting tall grass, your lawn mower can make a big difference. Reel mowers and electric mowers are designed for cutting grass up to 6 inches tall while riding mowers are designed for grass up to 8 inches tall.
- Reel mowers, like this Fiskars brand, are an excellent option for small yards, as they’re lightweight and maneuverable. They’re also quieter than their electric counterparts.
- Electric mowers, like this Makita brand, are ideal for larger yards, as they’re more powerful and can easily cut through thicker grass.
- Riding mowers, like the Husqvarna one above, are the best for yards with tall grass, as they can cut through up to 8 inches tall.
However, they are more expensive and require more upkeep than a reel or electric mower.
When choosing a lawn mower, consider the height of the grass you’ll be cutting and the size of your yard.
Safety Tips for Cutting Tall Grass with a Lawn Mower
When cutting tall grass with a lawn mower, safety is essential. Always wear safety goggles and long sleeves to protect yourself from flying debris.
Take your time while mowing, as tall grass can be challenging to maneuver. Clear any obstacles, like rocks or sticks that may be in the way before mowing.
Inspect your lawn mower blades before using them, as they may become dull over time and require sharpening for optimal results.
It’s also important to pay attention to the weather conditions. Avoid mowing when wet or rainy, as this can be dangerous and lead to slippery surfaces.
Pt 2 How To Cut Tall Grass with a Basic Lawn Mower. Tall Grass Mowing
Finally, always use caution when operating a lawn mower and read the user manual for instructions on proper use.
The Best Time to Cut Your Tall Grass with a Lawn Mower
The best time of year to cut your tall grass with a lawn mower depends on the type of grass that you have.
Cool-season grasses, such as fescues and bluegrasses, need to be cut at a higher height during winter. In spring, these grasses should be mowed at a height of about three inches. Your tall grass should be cut to about two inches in the summer months.
Warm-season grasses, such as bermudagrass, St Augustinegrass, and centipedegrass, should be mowed at a higher height during summer. In spring and fall, these grasses should be cut to a height of about three inches. During winter, your tall grass should be cut to about two inches.
It is important to note that the ideal mowing height for your lawn depends on the type of grass you have and the current weather conditions.
Check with your lawn care professionals to determine the best mowing height for your grass type and weather conditions.
Conclusion: Maximizing Efficiency When Cutting tall grass With a lawn mower
When cutting tall grass with a lawn mower, it is essential to adjust the blade height and the type of mower for the best result.
Knowing the ideal cutting height for your particular type of grass is critical, and understanding the pros and cons of cutting taller grass can help you make an informed decision.
Additionally, selecting the correct type of mower and following safety tips are also important factors that should be considered.
By taking these points into account, you can maximize efficiency when cutting tall grass with a lawn mower.
Posted on Published: December 29, 2022. Last updated: April 29, 2023
I bought my first house in Elk Grove right after the housing implosion in 2008, I got a good deal but prior had only experience with apartments and definitely learned loads.
We sold there and moved to Texas later to follow employment and I was able to get a far nicer space built for enjoyment and entertainment and continue to learn little tasks and needs.
This site is my way to share them with you and hopefully help you skip out on the pitfalls and problems I have experienced!
Manual Lawn Mowers: Can They Cut Tall Grass?
With the introduction of manual lawn mowers, companies have adopted a more eco-friendly way of cutting grass other than using electric lawnmowers.
Not all manual lawn mowers are made equally since some of them are able to be adjusted to cut the varying lengths of grass. Manual mowers are great tools to use if you want an eco-friendly way of cutting the grass and your lawn size is less than 1/2 acre.
Manual lawn mowers can cut tall grass. Tall grass is more difficult to cut with a manual mower than short grass. Having sharp lubricated blades on an adjustable blade height manual mower can assist with making cutting tall grass mowers manageable.
It is important that you understand what a manual lawn mower, also known as a reel mower, does and how it works before attempting to use it to cut tall grass.
A manual mower will not work as quickly or as efficiently as its electric and gas counterparts and will take more physical work by the operator. Read on to learn about manual lawn mowers and how they function in tall grass.
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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.
Manual Lawn Mower Functionality
Everyone knows that electric and gas-powered lawn mowers are more effective in cutting grass than manual lawn mowers.
If you are someone who likes to do things manually, you don’t have a large yard size and you are a friend of the environment, then these types of mowers can benefit you. Some benefits of manual mowers:
- Easy to use
- No need for a charger or cords for you to mow your grass
- They do not burn fuel or make noise
Compared to their electric and gas counterparts, the blades of manual lawn mowers do not work with a motor. Manual mower blades are activated as you push the lawn mower. The grass is pulled into the bed knife as you move which cuts the grass with scissor-like blades.
Having manual lawn mowers can help you have more control over how you want your lawn mowed. Because manual mowers have no motor, they are lighter and easier to maneuver than your traditional electric or gas lawn mowers.
They produce no sound and they produce no emissions which make the process of mowing your lawn more comfortable.
The only drawback that can be found in using manual lawn mowers is that they are, in fact, manual, which makes them less convenient. You have to push them for them to work.
There is nothing assisting you in operating the mower so cutting tall grass can become pretty labor-intensive. You need to consider your physical health and capability when choosing a manual mower.
A benefit to manual mowers is their parts are much cheaper to replace than their gas or electric counterparts. There are still a variety of things that you need to make sure your lawn mower has before trying to use it in tall grass.
How to Cut Tall Grass Manually
Manual lawn mowers can cut tall grass, however, do not expect every type of lawn mower to be able to cut tall grass. You will need to check the characteristics of your model lawn mower before attempting to cut your tall grass.
If you fail to do so, you may end up causing damage to your lawn mower and your grass since it will not be cut properly.
There are some aspects that you need to make sure your model of lawn mower can perform to prevent any mistake from happening whether it will be a technical problem or an issue with how your lawn is mowed.
- Check to see if the blade height is adjustable and how tall they can be placed.
- Make sure that the blades are sharp before cutting.
- Examine the blades to ensure they are properly lubricated with no rust on them.
- When adjusting blades, do not overtighten; otherwise, blades will not move effectively.
- Verify that there are not any obstacles like small rocks in the way.
We will explain in the coming section how you can make sure all of these things are ready before you start mowing your lawn with a manual lawn mower.
Adjust Blade Height to Highest Position
Most manual lawn mowers are only able to reach a height of 1 ¾ to 3 ½ inches. If the blades can be adjusted, adjust them to the approximate height of the grass.
If you notice that they cannot be placed to the height of the grass, then slowly start to mow the tall grass, and repeat the process until you see an even cut in the grass.
Tall grass generally means more work. You want to make sure that your grass does not grow taller than four inches otherwise this might mean more work for you.
Manual lawn mowers can find it hard to create an even cut when the grass is taller than this, and you may have to go back and forth several times to get an even cut.
Make Sure Blades Are Sharp
If the blades of your manual lawnmower are not sharp enough you may find it harder to cut the grass. Dull blades can cause uneven cuts on your lawn.
This is something you want to avoid since it can cost you more time to complete the task. Dull blades can beat up your lawn and may turn the tips of the grass brown.
If you have newer modern manual lawn mowers they do not need to be run with a back-and-forth motion like prior models. You may find yourself doing it if your blades are not sharp and unable to cut properly.
Ensure Blades Are Lubricated
Verify the blades are properly lubricated or your blades will have trouble rotating. The blades of most manual lawn mowers act like scissors. Blades lift the grass from the soil and place it on the knife bed for an effective cut.
If they have rust in them, then you might need to replace them. Cutting with rusted or blades that do not have proper lubrication can make the task of cutting your tall grass harder.
Do Not Overtighten the Blades When Adjusting
Although this might sound self-explanatory, there are many times when people commit this mistake when they cut their grass following blade adjustment. Overtightening your blades can make your blades stiffer when they are cutting the grass.
Overtightened blades will increase the overall effort you will have to put in to cut your grass. Having your blades overtight can cause uneven cuts to the grass.
This causes you to have to re-cut the lawn to get a good cut. If this happens to you, make sure your blades are not tightened too much so they are able to move freely, lubricate the blades, and then resume cutting the grass again.
Mow in Dry Conditions
Make sure your grass is dry before you attempt to mow it. Wet grass can bind up in your lawn mower because it does not cut as well as dry grass.
Remove All Obstacles from the Path
Before cutting, make sure that there are not any obstacles like small rocks that can be in the way. Take away any big bumps, or rocks, since there are chances that your blades might become stuck in the bed knife, which can become frustrating.
How Often Should You Mow with a Reel Mower?
For the best result, you should mower your lawn at least once a week. In the prime growing season, you may need to increase your mowing to twice per week.
Letting your grass grow too long not only make the task of mower harder, but it will also cause your lawn not to look nice once you are done.
The blades of long grass tend to lay down once it tall making the grass a little more matted. Your lawn mower may not be able to cut the blades of grass when the lawn is matted.
It’s best to cut your grass while the blades of the grass are standing tall. With gas or electric-powered mower, the blades are able to spin faster. With the faster blade tip speed and suction created in a mower deck, the grass is “lifted” and the blades come by and cut the blades of grass.
You do not have this advantage with a manual mower. You will need to cut your grass before it gets too tall and the blades of grass fold over.
Manual lawn mowers can cut tall grass, but it depends on the way you do it. Taller grass tends to be harder to cut and harder to maneuver. With a manual lawn mower, you might need to repeat the process multiple times to have good results.
Do not let your grass grow too tall. Otherwise, it will be more difficult to cut it. Maintaining your grass at approximately two inches tall makes your life easier during the mowing process.
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The Best Reel Mowers for Your Lawns in 2023 Buying Guide
Reel lawn mowers can be a wise choice for yard maintenance because they are relatively inexpensive, quiet, and easy to maintain. Plus, they only take up only a fraction of the space required by a typical mower.
But that’s not all, they are also better for the overall health of your lawn since they cut grass blades the way scissors would. This is unlike a traditional rotary mower that tends to rip and tear grass, leaving brown tips and exposing it to diseases.
If you’re wondering why else you should consider a reel mower and which ones are the best reel mowers in 2023, then this article was specifically written for a lawn owner like you!
We go over not only what the best reel mowers are, but also what exactly you should look for, and how they work to help you make the best decision for your lawn.
Produces NO toxic fumes for the environment to absorb.- just a couple of footprints!
What is a Reel Mower?
A reel mower has vertically spinning blades. This differs from the majority of lawnmowers, known as rotary mowers, in which the blade spins horizontally.
Historically, reel mowers are mechanically powered, necessitating the use of muscle to cut grass. However, today you can also find reel mowers powered by gas, which are particularly useful for cutting larger turf areas.
How Does a Reel Mower Work?
Most motorized push mowers use rotary blades. The cutting edge is parallel to the ground and goes around and around in a clockwise motion (or maybe it’s counter-clockwise, but you get the point).
By contrast, a reel mower’s five to eight spiral steel blades spin at an angle perpendicular to the ground. As you push the mower, the reel turns and snips the grass in a scissor-like motion. It provides a finer cut than a rotary mower — no ripping or tearing — and seals the grass blade, which keeps moisture in and lawn diseases out.
People purchase reel mowers primarily due to their clean, short cut. The truth is that only reel mowers can achieve a cutting height of half an inch or less. If you’ve ever wondered how golf courses maintain such short grass, the answer is a gas-powered reel mower.
Do Straight Lines Matter When Mowing?
Also, unlike power mowers, which create a vacuum that pulls up the blades of grass as it cuts, the snipping action of a reel mower causes minimal disturbance to the natural growth pattern of turf.
This interwoven network of leaves (blades of grass) just above the soil level is a key element of turf’s natural ability to retain moisture and crowd out weeds. Reel mowers cut the grass in place, reducing the vertical height but leaving the grass with blades of varying lengths.
Professional groundskeepers prefer the cutting action of a reel mower because it allows them to cut at the lowest recommended height and still maintain a beautiful healthy look.
It also produces a natural mulch by dispersing clippings in a fine spray (no clumping) that decompose quickly. Left on the lawn, these clippings release nutrients into the soil. Over the course of a growing season, that mulch is equivalent to a free application of organic fertilizer.
Ideal for ALL grass types including Florida’s thick-bladed St. Augustine grass.
Why Consider Using a Reel Lawn Mower?
There are multiple reasons why you should consider using a reel lawn mower. Let’s look at some of our top reasons:
- First of all, they start every time.
- They’re much quieter than gas-powered mowers, so quiet that you can mow early Sunday morning without waking the neighbors.
- They’re fuel-free unless you count those bowls of cereal or peanut butter sandwiches that power your engine.
- They don’t degrade air quality (lawn mower engines are terribly inefficient and emit more than 10 times the hydrocarbons per amount of gas burned than auto engines).
- Not only are reel mowers great for the environment, but they also require little maintenance and are a great means of exercise.
- They’re cheaper than gas-powered mowers, both in initial outlay and operating costs.
Are Reel Lawn Mowers Better Than Gas Mowers?
Reel lawn mowers are definitely better than gas-powered, rotary mowers.
Rotary lawn mowers tend to tear off the tops of grass blades, leaving them exposed to disease. Ever notice how the tops of each grass blade turn brown after mowing with a gas machine?
A reel mower snips the grass, like scissors, leaving finer trimmings to mulch in your yard. This mulch not only nourishes your lawn but also prevents weed seeds from germinating.
Rotary mowers also create a vacuum as they pass (that’s why they’re great for cutting tall, droopy weeds). They literally vacuum the mulch layer off the ground, providing an opportunity for weeds to find space to take root.
On the other hand, reel mowers will cut shorter (approximately 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 inches depending on the model) without disturbing the soil surface.
What About the Disadvantages of Using a Reel Mower?
No doubt you’ve heard of the drawback associated with reel push mowers from some disgruntled neighbor or relative.
They’re just too much work.
They’re hard to keep sharp and don’t cut evenly.
They leave the dandelion crowns standing.
These concerns are mostly a thing of the past. New materials and technology have made reel mowers lighter and more efficient. And a few changes in your lawn care strategy will not only make life with a reel mower easier but will result in benefits to your yard — and your health — as well.
Easy to store whether you park it in the garage or hang it up on a wall.
When was Reel Mowers Invented?
Push mowers, invented in 1830 by Edwin Budding near Stroud, England (you can see one of the originals in the London Science Museum), have improved since I discovered that old reel back in the woodshed.
Today, they’re lighter, smoother rolling, and made of stronger alloys. Blades stay sharper longer — about twice as long as a power mower’s spark plug lasts — and some machines are designed for specialized uses such as cutting thick, low-growing Bermuda and Zoysia grass.
With a little care and planning, a push reel mower will not only give you years of quiet, fuel and pollution-free service. It will help you keep a better lawn.
Things to Consider When Buying a Reel Mower
Size and Terrain
Reel lawn mowers are best used in smaller, level yards. The wider a mower is, the harder it will be to push.
Steep hills can make mowing difficult (as they do with power lawn mowers) but maneuverability with a reel mower, especially those with rear wheels, is better than with most power mowers.
Still, a reel mower may require pulling the mower back and pushing it in the new direction. This assures a clean cut as it trims any grass missed while rotating the reel.
Push reel mowers tend to run over tall weeds, like dandelion flowers, rather than cut them. But a reel lawn mower makes weed control easier. You’ll want to inspect your lawn for obstructions as you mow. A rock can chip mower blades. I always cleared twigs and fallen fruit from beneath my trees before making a pass with the mower.
Type of Grass
It’s best to consider the type of grass you’ll be mowing and the height you prefer as this will affect the cutting width and number of reel blades to look for in your reel mower.
Most mower reels contain five blades and are fine for cutting Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye, fescue, and other common grasses. Thicker grasses found in the South and areas prone to droughts, like Zoysia, Bent, and Bermuda grasses, are best handled by seven-blade mowers.
Models with seven blades and an 18-inch cutting width are good for medium-sized lawns. If they are consistently maintained, most small to medium-sized lawns can be successfully cut by reel mowers with four or five blades and smaller cutting widths.
In warmer, wetter climates where grass grows quickly, an adjustable blade height feature found on some more expensive reel models can be a lifesaver. Most of the time, these settings range anywhere from 0.5 to 4 inches.
Consider the amount of moisture your lawn receives and the kinds of use it gets so that you’ll know just how short to cut.
To increase comfort when mowing medium-sized lawns, some reel lawn mower models feature ergonomic, cushioned handles, attached grass collection bins, and other features.
An InertiaDrive reel is another feature to look for in a reel mower; it provides a more precise cut and is especially helpful for cutting tall and thick grasses.
Planet Natural’s Picks for Best Reel Mowers in 2023
Here are our top picks for the best reel mowers you can buy in 2023:
Best Overall Reel Mower: Great States 18-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower
The Great States 415-16 push reel lawn mower is the first on our list and is well-known for its cutting power. This mower does an excellent job of trimming and shaping your lawn thanks to its blade height adjustment range of 0.5 to 2.5 inches.
This reel mower is our top pick because of the high quality of its blades; they are made of heat-treated alloy steel and stay sharp for a very long time. The blades are sharp enough to use for trimming precise lawn borders. And the mower’s cushioned handle makes it simple to push through even the thickest grass with a solid grip.
It requires only one push to start, making it a hassle-free manual lawn mower. Plus, the lightweight design of the Great States reel lawn mower makes it easy to maneuver throughout the yard.
The reels cut the grass cleanly and efficiently, leaving behind a neat and even lawn without any ripping or tearing. In addition, the lawn mower is simple and easy to store. It can be hung on a wall or tucked away in a garage nook and so requires minimal storage space.
Best Wide Cutting Width Reel Mower: Scotts Outdoor Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower
The Scotts 2000-20 is our top pick for a reel mower with a wide cutting width for healthy, precise cutting.
The mower’s 20-inch cutting swath allows it to quickly and cleanly remove grass in a single motion, without tearing or ripping the blades. With the Scotts 2000-20 mower, you’ll never have to go over your lawn more than once.
The blades are made of heat-treated alloy steel, which maintains its edge for a longer period of time and allows for exceptionally precise grass cutting. The blade adjustment range is from 1 to 3 inches.
The enhanced maneuverability on the lawn is a result of the dual-tracking wheels, which allow for a more even cut when moving around your lawn.
Mowing is a breeze with the Scotts 2000-20 Outdoor Power Tools mower. Ergonomic padding on the mower’s handles promotes healthful posture as you cut the grass.
It can be quickly and easily assembled with no extra hardware and tools required. It’s one of the most user-friendly and space-efficient manual lawn mowers on the market, making this model a top pick at its price point.
Best Lightweight Reel Mower: American Lawn Mower Company 14-Inch 4-Blade Mower
With being the lightest reel mower on the list, the 14-inch American Lawn Mower weighs just 20 pounds overall. It has four cutting blades made of a steel alloy that has been heated to prevent them from becoming dull. It also has 8.5-inch polymer wheels and rear rollers to make it more stable.
This smaller American Lawn Mower is ideal for mowing a small lawn, and its light weight makes it easier to operate for smaller individuals. It has both a T-handle and a padded handle to make mowing more comfortable.
Plus, this compact, low-maintenance reel mower has a fold-down handle for storage and is light enough to hang in the garage if preferred. The cutting height can be adjusted from 0.5 to 2.75 inches.
Since there are only four 14-inch blades cutting against the bedknife, this mower provides the least resistance out of all the models on the list, making it a good one if you’re a beginner or worried about manual mowers being too difficult to push.
Overall, this four-blade reel mower is sturdy and simple to operate, though it might need a second pass to finish cleaning up tougher patches due to having fewer blades.
You could use it to maintain the paths in your vegetable garden or other low-traffic grassy areas effectively with this manual mower.
Best High-Quality Reel Mower: Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower, 18 Inch
This Fiskars reel mower might be pricey, but you certainly get high quality in return for the price. This model has two small front rollers for better balance and stability, and its high-quality StaySharp blades require less frequent sharpening.
In addition to that, it has a design called InertiaDrive that enables the mower to cut through grass that is denser.
Even though the Fiskars Stay Sharp Max mower costs roughly twice as much as the others on the list, it easily outperforms them in every way. The construction, which weighs a hefty 52 pounds, has a heavy-duty feel but operates efficiently.
Even on the roughest terrain, the machine can be maneuvered with relative ease thanks to the ergonomically designed handle.
The wheels on this reel mower are offset in a way that prevents them from flattening the grass before mowing, allowing you to get closer to the edge of your lawn (only an inch away) than you would with most other reel mowers (typically 3.5 inches).
The lever’s height can be altered quickly and easily with one hand and the cutting height can be adjusted anywhere from one to four inches, and the chute can be moved in either direction, allowing the clippings to fall either in front of or behind the mower as desired.
This Fiskars mower has a cutting width of 18 inches, which makes it an excellent choice for maintaining lawns in both smaller and larger sizes. Plus, you can buy a grass catcher on its own if you want to.
If you’re looking for unbeatable quality, you can’t go wrong with this reel mower.
Best Reel Mower for Tall Grass: American Lawn Mower Company 16-inch Reel Mower
Unlike most reel lawn mowers, this 16-inch push reel lawn mower from American Lawn Mower Company has blades and a bed knife made of tempered steel, as well as an unbreakable steel side plate.
This built quality is incredible and definitely worth checking out. The blades slice through grass blades up to 4 inches tall, just like a pair of scissors would without ripping them like rotary mowers would.
One of the things that we love the most about this particular mower is how easy it is to use! If you’re concerned that a manual reel mower will be a lot of physical work, then consider trying this one by American Lawn Mower Company; it makes mowing a breeze and is easy to move through tall grass even with one hand.
How To Use a Manual Push Mower
Back when your grandpa was using a reel mower, the common grass-cutting technique was to saw–pass the mower back and forth in a sawing-like motion. That’s because the blades weren’t all that sharp. Today that’s unnecessary. Just walk at a normal pace and a single pass (or sometimes two) will suffice.
Cut to Shortest Recommend Length
Always cut to the shortest recommended height. That makes it an easier job for both you, the pusher, as well as for the reel push mower.
You’ll want to keep your grass at a proper mowing height (no more than three to four inches) and try to mow no more than one-third of the grass blade at a time. This helps feed the soil and ensures that your lawn will have deeper roots, which makes the grass healthier and discourages weeds.
That is, it’s better to mow a little bit and frequently instead of waiting for the grass to be too high. Usually once a week will do the trick.
Avoid long gaps and tall grass between mowings. Tall grass means too much work and it will be harder on you and the mower
Overlap Your Mowing Lines
Overlapping wheels while bicycle racing causes accidents. In the case of your lawn, overlapping the mowing pattern is a good thing. It makes it easier to mow and helps catch any errant grass blades that the push mower missed the first time around. (One good hint: if you get sloppy and wait until your grass is too tall to cut, try increasing the amount of overlap between passes.)
Variety adds spice to life and to mowing, so experiment. Try mowing in different patterns and seeing what makes your lawn look best. Heck, if you’ve really got a lot of time on your hands, you could work on becoming the next Picasso of the playing field.
Change Method Depending on Season
To every season, there is a method of cutting. You may find that you need to change your mowing technique as conditions change.
For example, grass grows fast in the spring and is brimming with moisture. You may need to set your push mower at a higher cutting height and mow more frequently than in the fall when the growing season is coming to an end.
Similarly, during the peak of summer and summer heat grass has less moisture and is thinner. You may need to reduce the mowing height to get your lawn to look its best.
Weed Control Tips
If dandelions or other “willowy” weeds take up residence, you’ll find that mowing isn’t the best solution.
This is because they are so tall that when the mower pushes over them, they do not spring back up to be cut by the blade. You’ll be pushing and the mower will be cutting, but the weeds will escape.
Instead of futile mowing, either start attacking weeds with the mower while they are still short enough to be easily cut or explore other forms of weed control.
How to Maintain Push Reel Mowers:
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