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Last updated: April 28, 2022
For small plots of grass and areas that you’d prefer to keep tightly manicured, a push reel lawn mower is an excellent choice.
Manual push reel mowers require no fuel and are better for the environment while providing a cleaner, lower cut than rotary mowers.
But finding the right reel mower for your needs can be surprisingly difficult given all the choices available. To help make that process easier, we have searched out and reviewed 5 of the best push reel mowers on the market.
Top 5 Push Reel Mowers:
|1||American Lawn Mower Co 14-Inch 4-Blade Mower||Price|
|2||Great States 16-Inch 5-Blade Mower||Price|
|3||Great States 18-Inch 5-Blade Mower||Price|
|4||Earthwise 16-Inch 7-Blade Mower||Price|
|5||Scotts 14-Inch 5-Blade Mower||Price|
Top 5 Push Reel Mowers
Each of the below products has a reputation for being easy to use and delivering fantastic results.
Some of them also come with added functionality and hit at different price points so you can find the best mower to fit your needs and budget.
1. American Lawn Mower Co 14-Inch 4-Blade Mower
For an all-around great cut on small plots, you can’t beat the American Lawn Mower Co 14-Inch 4-Blade Mower.
This orange beauty features four durable heat-treated alloy steel blades that stay sharp for an even cut every time. With normal use, you can go up to five years before having to sharpen this reel mower.
The durable reel can be adjusted between heights of 0.5 inches and 1.75 inches, making this the perfect mower for low-cut warm-season grasses. For areas where you’d like to keep the grass a little longer, this might not be the best buy though. It can handle grass up to 4 inches tall but was made for tight trimming.
With an 14-inch wide cutting area and shorter 8.5-inch wheels, this mower is also a better choice for small plots that require precision cutting. The deeply treaded polymer wheels get around well but aren’t quite as maneuverable as some of the 10-inch options we’ve featured.
Between the smaller reel, shorter tires, and the fact that it weighs 20 pounds, the American Lawn Mower 14-Inch makes a great little mower for keeping more compact areas of lawn looking great. Overall, it offers perhaps the most bang for your buck of all the options on this list of best push reel lawn mowers.
2. Great States 16-Inch 5-Blade Mower
For grass that you’d like to keep a bit on the longer side, the Great States 16-Inch 5-Blade Mower is going to be your best bet.
The high-quality heat-treated alloy steel blades on this reel mower can be adjusted between heights of 1 inch and 2.5 inches. This gives you more versatility than most and allows for a higher maximum length that is perfect for thinner grass varieties like fescue grass.
This ability to cut grass at longer lengths combined with the wider 16-inch reel width allows this mower to make quick work of medium to large-sized plots. The five-blade ball-bearing reel is effortless to move and the 10-inch composite wheels cover more distance with less force.
If you’ve traditionally cared for your lawn with a gas rotary motor, then the Great States 16-Inch is an excellent choice for making the transition to push reel. Like all manual reel mowers, it will require a little more effort on your end to get things moving, but it cuts with an efficiency closer to a rotary and takes nearly the same amount of time to get the job done.
This 25-pound mower is well priced considering its size and versatility. Like all of the reels we’ve featured, this highly durable blade will last for years without sharpening.
3. Great States 18-Inch 5-Blade Mower
If you’re dedicated to mowing your large lawn with an earth-friendly push mower, the Great States 18-Inch 5-Blade Mower is worth looking into.
This large mower features a wide 18-inch reel that cuts a greater area of grass with each pass. And the 10-inch diameter composite wheels make maneuvering over rough terrain a breeze. Combine these with five blades of tempered alloy steel and you get a reliable, efficient machine that can tackle large jobs with ease.
This mower also has an impressive range with an adjustable cut height of 0.5 inches to 2.75 inches. Whether you’re hoping to keep your bent grass trim and tidy, or looking for a little longer length for thin blade varieties, you’ll have plenty of options with this mower.
Of course, a larger reel mower does come with some drawbacks, most notably in the weight department. The Great States 18-Inch weighs in at a hefty 27 pounds but still moves with ease compared to large rotary mowers. The price might be a little steeper too, compared to others on this list, but well worth it for the larger machine.
4. Earthwise 16-Inch 7-Blade Mower
In the realm of premiere push reel mowers, you won’t find any better than the Earthwise 16-Inch 7-Blade Mower.
Tightly packed alloy steel blades leave no piece of grass uncut with just a single pass. Specially designed for bent grass types like Bermuda and centipede, this mower is an especially great choice for precise cutting and low heights. The 16-inch wide reel is sized for use on small to large plots.
The adjustable height setting, from 0.5 to 2.5 inches, allows for greater versatility. This is key if you plan to cut your grass to different heights throughout the year.
However, if you plan to do frequent height changes, such as from one side of the yard to the other, this probably isn’t your mower. The adjustment mechanism requires pulling at screws and resetting them. But for the occasional height adjustment, this extra work shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
Slick ball-bearing operation with a lighter total weight of 21.8 pounds makes the Earthwise 16-Inch a pleasure to work with. The 10-inch composite wheels add to the maneuverability and smooth operation.
This is a premiere-quality mower and might cost you more than others on our list, but for a reliable product that you can depend on for years, it’s definitely worth the investment.
5. Scotts 14-Inch 5-Blade Mower
If you’re after a budget reel mower that won’t disappoint, the Scotts 14-Inch 5-Blade Mower is your best option.
This affordable mower is made with the same quality heat-treat alloy steel blades as our top choices. Each of the 5 blades starts razor-sharp and holds that edge for years. It requires little effort to push and makes a great mower for small plots.
The 14-inch wide reel is perfect for little yards and tight spaces. Like our first choice, it has smaller 8.5-inch wheels. These are less effective for maneuvering over rough terrain but work well enough on flat parcels.
The Scotts 14-Inch offers less versatility in terms of cut height, but it can be adjusted between 1 and 1.75 inches. It makes a great mower for Bermuda and bent grasses but unfortunately is no match for thick crabgrass or weedy areas.
One area this mower does excel in is in overall weight. At just 18 pounds, this is easily the lightest quality push reel mower we found. In short, this budget mower can’t do it all, but it is perfectly tailored for cutting well-kept, small plots of warm-season grass. And it can do it with very little effort.
Push reel mowers differ from both motorized reel mowers and the more popular rotary mowers.
Understanding where push reel mowers shine and the qualities that make them the most useful, will help you find the best mower for your needs.
Let’s go through the following deciding factors in more detail:
- Reel vs Rotary
- Number of Blades
- Cutting Height
- Cutting Width
- Handle Shape
1. Reel vs Rotary
Reel mowers utilize sharp helical blades that spin up against a bed knife to cut grass utilizing the same principles as a pair of scissors. The movement of the reel helps stand grass up for a more uniform cut. And the sharp blades mean grass is cut cleanly rather than torn.
These types of mowers are available in push and motorized models. Both are optimized for cutting low-growing grass varieties. Because of their ability to slice grass cleanly without pulling, they are uniquely capable of trimming grass to lengths as short as half an inch without damaging the base or roots.
On the downside, reel mowers do not do a great job cutting through debris. Even small twigs or thick weeds can be enough to jam up reel mowers.
Rotary mowers have a single long blade that spins on a center rotor, similar to helicopter blades. The sharpness of the edges of the blade combined with the high speed at which it spins is what allows it to cut grass. This cut is less clean than a reel mower and has more of a tearing effect on the end of the grass blades.
These types of mowers are good for cutting through thick grass and can handle a decent amount of debris without any trouble. On the downside, they do not cut cleanly enough for low heights and only work well with thicker, long-growing grass varieties.
2. Number of Blades
The number of blades on a reel mower can vary by model. Four is typically the lowest number you will find, while very precise cutters can have up to ten.
The more blades a reel has, the more precise and clean the cut. Bent grass varieties, like Bermuda and St Augustine, will benefit from a high-blade reel with a higher cut frequency. These reel types are also better for lower cutting heights.
Reels with four or five blades are a better choice for thinner upright grass varieties like Kentucky blue and fescue grass. These don’t need as much help being propped up and will benefit from fewer blade strikes. These reel types are also better for higher cutting lengths.
3. Cutting Height
As we covered above, the number of blades on the reel dictates a lot about the optimal cutting height for the mower. But many models include adjustable height settings that can be changed for different needs.
The lowest setting on most reels is between 0.5 and 1 inch. The highest can be up to 3 inches. The range available can vary widely, with some having multiple settings that vary by as much as 2 inches, like the versatile Earthwise 16-Inch 7-Blade Mower, and others only having a high and low that vary by as little as an inch.
If you are less than consistent about cutting your lawn, getting a mower with a large adjustable height range can be helpful. This will allow you to set the height high after a few skipped mowings and then lower it slowly as you get the lawn back under control. But do keep in mind that reel mowers do not handle grass over 4 inches very well, even ones that are highly adjustable.
If you are very consistent with your mowing, the adjustable-height setting isn’t so important so long as the mower can be set to the one height you plan to use on your lawn.
4. Cutting Width
The width of the reel is another important aspect to consider before you pick a new mower. Push reel mowers are available in sizes between 14 inches and 20 inches.
Wider reels will get the job done quicker as they require fewer passes to mow a plot of lawn. But narrower reels are a better choice if you have tight spaces to get into or a lot of maneuvering to do, such as along a curvy border.
Also, keep in mind that mowers with wider reels are likely to be more expensive and heavier.
5. Handle Shape
Most reel mowers utilize simple but effective T-shaped handlebars. These handles allow for easy maneuvering but fewer options for grip position.
On wider reel models, you’re more likely to find a U-shaped handlebar. This handle shape resembles that of a rotary mower and is necessary to control the wider base of these larger models. U-shaped handles are more difficult to maneuver with but do offer more options for grip position.
The last thing worth considering when looking for a reel mower is the overall weight of the product. Push reel lawn mowers are much lighter than rotary mowers in general, but they do vary quite a bit from one model to the next.
Very light models, like the 18-pound Scotts 14-Inch 5-Blade Mower, are easier to maneuver and a great choice for teens helping out with yard maintenance. On the downside, light mowers are more likely to slide around on the grass, especially if it is wet or if you are trying to mow on a slope.
Heavy models, like the hefty 27-pound Great States 18-Inch 5-Blade Mower, can provide a cleaner cut thanks to more downward pressure. But, of course, these types also require more effort to use and aren’t the best options for teens or older homeowners.
A reel mower is the best option for grass varieties that need to be kept short and tidy to stay healthy and look their best. And push reel mowers are perfect for small plots since they require less maintenance, are more affordable, and are more Earth-friendly.
For an all-around great mower that can handle various heights and grass types, the American Lawn Mower Co 14-Inch 4-Blade Mower is the way to go. This highly maneuverable mower is lightweight, affordable, and nearly maintenance-free.
For larger plots that can be kept a little taller, the Great States 18-Inch 5-Blade Mower is a great option. The size and functionality of this mower make it the perfect transitionary mower for those switching from a traditional rotary mower.