Best Reel Mower Reviews for 2018

Reel Mowers - The First Lawn Mower

Of all the mowers, a properly adjusted cylinder mower makes the cleanest cut of the grass, and this allows the grass to heal more quickly.  Lawn cut with a cylinder mower is less likely to result in yellow, white or brown discolouration as a result of leaf shredding (source). In this article we review the most popular reel mowers and feature the best reel mower for 2018!

Right before we get into the reviews it may worth to look at the brief history of mowers and see how come the best mowers are possible still the good old reel mower!

Shanks Reel Lawn Mowers

As we have written about mowers history in our History of British Gardening Series, mowers came a long way along the years.

Before 1830 lawns were cut with scythes, which was extremely labor intensive and left an extremely rough finish. Edwin Beard Budding had the idea for a lawnmower after seeing a machine in a local cloth mill which used a cutting cylinder (or bladed reel) mounted on a bench to trim the irregular nap from the surface of woollen cloth and give a smooth finish. By 1858, more than 7,000 machines had been sold.

It was towards end of the 19th century that eventually, James Sumner of Lancashire patented the first steam-powered lawn mower in 1893 (source).  But that’s an other story.

Why should you get a reel mower?

The cut of a well-adjusted reel mower is straight and definite, as if cut with a pair of scissors. This clean cut promotes healthier, thicker and more resilient lawn growth that is more resistant to disease, weeds and parasites. They are simply better for the lawn’s health. 

As a matter of fact, it may not be that great to your sanity. It requires a strict cutting schedule to operate even the best reel mower efficiently. Depending on the region you should plan mowing about every 3-5 days. If the grass is not mowed in time, it may get too tall for the reel mower to cut clean. The mower might just push it down and roll over it. Any debris, like sticks and twigs, need to be cleared before mowing with a reel mower, and it is advised to pick up the clippings or to be raked. 

On the other hand, using a reel mower is so much nicer and closer to nature. It is not just environmentally friendly by not using gas, it is also quiet, simple and rather cheap indeed. 

If you can’t be bothered by the limitations of a reel mower you may better off with a cordless mower to be honest. They are low maintenance, quiet and practical, although much more expensive.

  • Lightweight
  • Cheapest
  • Easy maintenance
  • Best for the lawn
  • Good workout
  • Mowing schedule needed
  • Manual labor
  • Need even surface

When it comes to the best reel mower, we have to mention the most famous company in the business, the American Lawn Mower Company. It was established in 1895 and now owns the Great Sates, Earthwise and Yardwise brands. They together have a huge variety of reel mowers and they represent 3 out of the 4 mowers on our list of best reel mowers. 

Great States 304-14 14-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawnmower

Cutting width (inches)

Key Facts

Great States’ most popular model is the 14-inch 304-14 push lawnmower with 5 blades. It has a limited cutting width but for that you get outstanding maneuverability. 

It rolls easily on its 10 inch wheels, blade height can be adjusted providing a cutting height of 1 to 2 1/4 inches. The blades are heat treated made out of alloy steel. 

Great States offer similar reel mowers in different sizes:

Great States 815 18-inch Reel Mower

We need to mention that the basic Great States 304 is one of the cheapest mower on the market in the region of ~$40.

The big brother Great States 815 on the other hand costs three times more. It offers a very efficient 18 inch cutting width suitable for bigger lawns, height adjustment from as little as 1/2 inch to as high as 2 3/4 inches! To top it up it features powder coated finished handles for longevity and a bit of luxury.

American Lawn Mower 1204-14 14-Inch 4-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower

Cutting width (inches)

Key Facts

America’s other popular choice when it comes to reel mowers is the American Lawn Mower 1204 14 inch 4 blade reel lawn mower. 

Ideal for small lawns but surely keep them trimmed and neat. This particular mower has tempered alloy steel blades with adjustable height between 1/2 inch and 1 3/4 inches. 

It only weights 19 pounds so this light weight compared with the relatively narrow cutting width of 14 inches, makes it an agile and easy to use push mower. 

Of course, if you have bigger lawn and need more efficiency in the form of greater cutting capacity, American Lawn Mower offers just that in the form of the American Lawn Mower 1415-16 16-Inch 5-Blade Hand Push Reel Mower. This bigger tool features 4 spider with 5 blade ball bearing reel with 1/2 inch to 2 1/4 inches cutting heights. 

Earthwise 1715-16EW 16 Inch Wide, 7 Blade Push Reel Mower

Cutting width (inches)

Key Facts

Earthwise manufactures great quality tools and the Earthwise 1715 reel mower is no exception. 

It features a 7-blade design, which is best used for common Bermuda, Hybrid Bermuda, zoysia, centipede and other common bent grasses. For the more common taller, wet, upright grass a 4 or 5 blade reel mower will be more efficient when cutting grass. 

Stepping up the game not just in the number of blades but clearing with, the 18 inch wide path it can clear makes this Earthwise reel mower more suitable for big lawns.

Height adjustments are easy and can be set between 1/2 inch to 2 1/2 inches. 

Earthwise has a wide range of reel mowers as well, from 14 to 20 inches of clearing widths. 

Fiskars StaySharp Max 18 Inch Reel Mower (formerly Momentum)

Cutting width (inches)

Key Facts

Let’s put this out first of all: this is not your granddad’s typical mower. While other reel mowers in this list might seem like so, Fiskars have put a lot of effort, both engineering and design, to create possibly the best reel mower.  

The Fiskars reel mower is not just stylish, but has the most outstanding feature on the market today: it can cut grass up to 4 inches high. This single fact eliminates one of the biggest disadvantages of using a reel mower, that one need to use it regularly and not letting the grass grow too high. With the Fiskars StaySharp Max you will have an extra few days to rest. 

The StaySharp Max features a chain drive system called Inertia drive. This makes it easier to push and provides twice as much cutting power. The patented StaySharp technology promises longer lasting, sharp blades, saving you from regular blade sharpening. Still need to do so occasionally, just not that often. 

Cutting width is a healthy 18 inches, a great compromise between efficiency and easy reach near narrow places. Cutting height can be adjusted between 1 and 4 inches. 

Fiskars Max has a front-discharge mechanism, meaning it throws clippings forward, not on your shoes. This can be changed to backward and downward direction, should you wish so.

You may wonder, how come a reel mower has four wheels? Well in this case the front wheels help the mower run more smoothly even on rough terrain and also drive the chain mechanism. 

Another great thing is that this reel mower is designed to cut all grass types, even tough southern varieties like Bermuda, Bahia or St Augustine.