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The Best Reel Mower for 2019

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If you are tired of polluting the air with a gas-powered mower or tired of tripping over the cord of a corded electric mower, it’s time you considered the tried and true manual reel lawn mower.

A push reel mower is cheaper – no gas to buy, no electricity to use, and no maintenance costs.


Quick look: here are the best reel mowers in 2019:


How We Rated The Mowers

In order to provide you with the best information, we left no stone and grass blade unturned to provide you with a great list of choices for reel lawn mowers. We read hundreds of reviews from all over the Internet – from Amazon, eBay, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. – plus the manufacturer’s pages for Fiskars, Great States, American Lawn Mower, Earthwise, and Scotts. After thoroughly reading both the positive and the negative reviews, we chose 5 push reel mowers that he felt were among the best in the field.

Once these 5 reel mowers were selected, we considered each model individually.

  • What are its pros and cons?
  • What are its average ratings from customers?
  • How reliable is this mower?
  • Does it come with a warranty?
  • Are there any unique features displayed by this mower?
  • How much does it cost, and does its special features and performance rate a higher price tag?

Please read on to discover the comparative features and pros and cons of these 5 models. A star system was used to rate the reel mowers, with 5 stars denoting the highest possible rating. We hope that our investigation of the merits of each machine will be a help to allow you to determine which machine is best for you.

Reliability (Warranty)

Push reel mowers are well known for their performance, price, and reliability. The Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower not only comes with a limited 3-year parts warranty, but its blades are so sharp that they will only need sharpening approximately every 5-10 years. It also has something called Inertia Drive technology which guarantees twice the cutting power of other reel mowers. The Great States mower only comes with a 1-year warranty on defective parts and manufacture. This compares to our least expensive model, the American Lawn Mower 1204-14, and our midrange mower, the Earthwise 1816-18EW. Finally, the Scotts 2000-20 comes with a 2-year warranty.

Height Adjustment

A height adjustment on a reel mower is a great and essential feature. The Fiskars 18″ Reel Mower provides a 1-touch patent pending height adjustment called VersaCut that promises a clean cut from 1″ to 4″ for all types of grass. The Great States 415-416 mower offers a height adjustment of 1/2″ to 2 1/2″ that must be implemented on both sides of your mower. The American Lawn Mower 1204 offers a cutting height adjustment of 1/2″ to 1 3/4″. The Earthwise 1816-18EW provides cutting height adjustments from 1″ to 2 1/4″, and the Scotts 2000-20 offers quick-snap height adjustments of 1″ to 3″.

Cutting Width

Reel lawn mowers are available in different widths which range from 14″ to 20″. The wider your reel mower is, the faster it will mow. A 14″ mower will cut your lawn about 30 times slower than a 20″ mower. The smallest cutting width on the reel mowers reviewed today belongs to the American Lawn Mower 1204-14, which provides a 14″ width. The largest cutting width among our 5 contenders belongs to the Scotts 2000-20 which features a 20″ width. The Fiskars 18″ Staysharp Mower features a unique inset wheel design which lets blades extend completely across the entire mower width and eliminates uncut strips underneath the wheels, permitting the mower to edge closer to fences, borders, and foundations.

Quality of Cut

Several factors may affect the quality of cut, including sponginess of the turf, excessive thatch, or if the user tries to cut off an inordinate amount of grass height at one time. The lower the cut height, the more probable that you might experience some of the following factors that might affect the quality of cut:

  • Reel or traction speed or cutting unit drop-speed
  • starTire pressure or engine governed speed
  • starReel sharpness and bed knife angle and sharpness
  • starCutting unit down-pressure setting or counterbalance
  • starHeight of the cut

Ease of Use

A reel mower does not only have superior cutting ability; it is very easy to use. It starts up whenever you do – no rope to pull, no cord to plug in, no oil or gas to worry about, and no idle to adjust. A reel mower is lightweight (usually weighing between 19-35 pounds) and is a snap to push or store. The Scott 2000 weighs in at 34 pounds, the Earthwise 27 pounds, the American Lawn Mower weighs 19 pounds, and the Great States weighs 25 1/2 pounds. The only exception is the Fiskars Staysharp, which weighs 51.7 pounds but is still a superb reel mower that is easy to use.

Why Buy a Reel Lawn Mower?

Reel lawn mowers have many fans – eco-friendly environmentalists, those people who love exercise, economical shoppers, and those people who hate noise and/or the smell of gasoline. There are many reasons to purchase a real lawn mower:

  • Economic – The mowers on our list range from an incredible $55 to $184, much smaller sums than other powered units.
  • Superior cutting ability – A reel mower provides an even, clean cut which seals grass blades to keep out any disease organisms and holds in moisture at the same time.
  • Yields natural mulch – A reel mower disperses clippings via a fine spray that decomposes quickly (no clumping is involved). The clippings can be left safely on the lawn, and provide natural fertilizer.
  • Safety – Reel mowers don’t throw out debris or rocks. They start when you start and stop when you stop.
  • Appeals to many types of users – female, male, suburban, urban, old, young, all income levels, exercise enthusiasts and anyone who is environmentally aware.
  • Nostalgia – Reel mowers bring back memories of times that were simpler, more peaceful, and more natural.
  • Fitness – A reel mower burns the same amount of calories per hour as downhill skiing, tennis, or low impact aerobics (approximately 400-450 calories)

Pros

  • Very low-cost, dependable mowers with very few maintenance costs.
  • Pollution-free – No gas, no engine, no tune-ups, so it won’t be degrading the air quality.
  • Quiet and safe – You can carry the baby strapped to your back while you mow.
  • Low maintenance – No spark plugs to replace, no filter that needs cleaning, no oil that needs to be checked or replaced.
  • Lightweight alloys and plastics have decreased the weight of these mowers considerably.
  • Reel mowers start up every single time!
  • A reel mower is better for the health of the grass, unlike rotary mowers which rip off the tips of grass blades and makes them more exposed to diseases. Your reel mower will snip the grass tips and leave healthy trimmings to turn into mulch in the yard.
  • Reel mowers cut shorter and don’t disturb the surface of the soil, and your lawn will be much less welcoming for weeds to grow.
  • Reel lawn mowers are more maneuverable than power lawnmowers.
  • It’s more aesthetically pleasing to use a reel lawn mower. The smell of fresh cut grass (without oil fumes and gas smells mixed in) can be pleasantly intoxicating. It’s so quiet that you will still be able to hear the kids playing or the birds singing.

Cons

  • You’ll need to mow about twice a week to keep the lawn in check.
  • If you have a lot of trees and twigs in your yard, this mower might not be for you. You’ll have to rake and pick up twigs before mowing.
  • Although many of the newer models are more lightweight, they will still give you and your muscles a good workout.
  • This machine is human-powered, and not the best choice for people with energy or strength deficits or other disabilities.
  • Reel lawn mowers will need to have their blades sharpened about once a season.
  • Rocks can frequently chip mower blades.
  • Uneven, broken ground can be a nightmare for a reel mower.
  • You’ll need to trim around sidewalks more if you have a reel mower since they’re set lower to the ground and won’t go over stone paths or sidewalk edges like power mowers can.

Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Models

The editor’s choice, the Fiskar StaySharp Mower, is the most expensive of the models reviewed here today, and with good reason. The cutting reels turn with the slightest of pushes. It discharges clippings in front so you won’t get any grass spray on your shoes. It is 10 pounds heavier than our other models, but that really helps to create momentum when you’re cutting taller and more robust weeds. It also features an inset wheel-design that allows edging and cuts every area of your lawn.

Our second most expensive model is the Scotts 2000-20 Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower. It has a number of worthwhile features, including a 20″ cutting deck, 9 separate height-adjustment modules, dual-radial tires, and five tough stainless-steel blades which reduce friction.

The Earthwise 1816-18EW 5-Blade Reel Mower holds third place in cost. It has a ball-bearing 5-blade reel which is best suited for cutting thin, fine grasses, and it is easily adjustable. It does have some cons – it comes to a dead stop if it encounters the smallest of twigs. It also has trouble cutting the occasional dandelion or other stray weeds.

The Great States 415-16 Reel Mower is the second least expensive mower reviewed here today. For its modest price tag, this mower offers 25 pounds of tempered-alloy steel, easy roll wheels, and 3 adjustable height positions. The top height adjustment of 2.75 is a tad short of optimal.

Last but not least, our least expensive model is the American Lawn Mower 1204-14 4-Blade Push Reel Mower. Yes, it has a smaller cutting width, and height adjustments ranging from 1/2″-1 3/4″ – but other than that, this mower is extremely dependable. You push it, and it cuts. It is simple to maneuver, lightweight and features 8 1/2″ wheels and a T-style cushioned handle.

Best Selling & Top Rated Models

  • Fiskars
  • Great States
  • American Lawn Mower
  • Earthwise
  • Scotts
  • GreenWorks
  • Gardena
  • Husqvarna
  • Sun Joe

How Much Should I Expect To Pay?

The mowers that we have reviewed here today fall between $55  and $185. All of these mowers have excellent qualities, but the old adage also applies to push reel mowers – you get what you pay for.

Reel Mower Reviews

1) Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower

Pros

  • Stationary reel and precision-ground blades never make contact
  • Eco-friendly mower eliminates the need for electricity or gas
  • Special InertiaDrive reel glides through the toughest spots with double the cutting power

Cons

  • Does not corner well
  • Stops if anything other than grass gets in the blades (heavy dead leaves, twigs, etc.)

The Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower boasts twice as much cutting power and is 60% easier-to-push than other standard reel mowers. It has inset wheels that facilitate super-close edging, an adjustable cut height of 1″ to 4″, a 1-touch handle height-adjustment, and a reversible grass chute.

2) Great States 415-16 16-Inch Reel Lawn Mower

Pros

  • Wheel height adjusts to 3 positions
  • Five heat-treated blades stay sharp longer
  • Quiet and environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Needs lubrication before each use
  • Narrow model, so the number of passes across the yard is increased

The Great States 415-16 Mower features a steel unbreakable side plate, a tempered alloy bed knife blade, and steel reel, cushioned handle grips, a 1/2″ to 2 1/2″ adjustable cutting height, and easy, lightweight maneuverability.

3) American Lawn Mower 1204-14 14-Inch Push Reel Mower

Pros

  • Just push to start – No cords, keys, or buttons to remember
  • Easy storage – Just hang it on the wall
  • Quiet, engineless, and won’t ever disturb the neighbors

Cons

  • Large weeds and small twigs get caught up in the blades, and you’ll need to stop mowing and remove them
  • Non-adjustable handle and wing nuts loosen up after several uses

The American Lawn Mower 1204-14 features 8 1/2″ tall impact wheels, a 14″ cutting width, and alloy steel construction. This very economical machine weighs only 19 pounds, is excellent for cutting very narrow turf strips alongside sidewalks, and cuts each blade precisely (like using scissors).

4) Earthwise 1816-18EW 18-Inch 5-Blade Reel Mower

Pros

  • No tools required for assembly
  • Sports a comfortable cushioned ergonomic handle
  • Economical and eco-friendly mower

Cons

  • Hard to use if grass is too high
  • After mowing, you’ll need to either use a blower or rake up all the grass

The Earthwise 1816-18EW has an 18″ cutting width, tempered steel bed knife blade and reel, 6″ rear tracking wheels, durable 10″ composite front wheels, and 5 blade ball-bearings. It’s lightweight, practically maintenance free, is ready to work anytime you need it, and doesn’t leave behind any residue.

5) Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower

Pros

  • Wide 20″ cutting path reduces time needed to mow
  • Smooth ball bearings help blades to spin efficiently
  • Foam grip loop-style handle

Cons

  • Lawn will need to be mowed at least twice a week
  • Won’t mow tall weeds or any other kind of debris

The Scotts 2000-20 has a cutting height of 1″ to 3″, 5 blades, and a QuickSnap height adjuster with 9 positions. It features a unique rear-wheel design that improves maneuverability and reduces drag. Add to that easy assembly, a welded reel hood, and strong heat-treated blades.

Conclusion

After extensive research and reading hundreds of reviews, we choose the Fiskars Staysharp Max Reel Mower as the best reel lawn mower in the marketplace today. It has twice the amount of cutting power than its competitors, it sprays the grass directly in front of you, and it’s approximately 60% simpler to push than most other manual mowers. It’s powerful, fast, and maneuverable, and perhaps best of all – its blades will only require sharpening every five to ten years!

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