As you may have guessed, reel mowers were the first generation of lawn mowers. It’s amazing to look at the advanced types of zero turn riding mowers available today and think that they actually evolved from the most basic form of reel lawn mowers.
The reel category of mowers are still very popular today and while they remain the most basic form of mowers on the market, even these machines have evolved considerably, with some models being very close to an electric lawn mower with assisted cutting technology and even grass clipping catchers.
Reel Mower Comparison Table
|Image||Manufacturer||Blade Size (inches)||Weight (pounds)||Price||Rating|
|GreenWorks 5-Blade||16, 19, 20||26-32||$|
|Great States 415-16SK1||16||26||$|
|Fiskars 6201 18-Inch Staysharp||18||52||$$$|
|Great States Scotts 2000-20S||20||34||$$|
How They Work
These machines typically have a cylinder shaped body with a number of blades that are connected to the wheels so the blades rotate and cut as you push the mower forward. They have very few moving parts and as a result are a much simpler machine than an electric or gas push mower.
There are a number of benefits when choosing this form of lawn mower over another form of mower, however some of these may also be considered negatives, such as not having a battery.
- No pull chord to start
- No spark plugs to change
- No battery to charge
- No rocks and shrapnel flying around
- No running costs
The down side of owning one of these machines is that everything is manual, and while there are models that have gears to assist you with cutting they generally require more manual work to operate. You will also need to clear the yard of any twigs as these machines will not deal with them so easily.
- Fully manual operation
- Can be hard to do the edges
- Tough grass is a killer
- Must not have rocks or twigs in yard
- Must have a very level surface
Like all the other types of lawn mowers on the market, this particular product market is evolving and expanding so you may be surprised to see some of the options available to you as far as these machines are concerned. There are many more options available than the typical old school machine you may be thinking of so let’s take a look at a few.
The Scotts 2000-20S is one of the stand out reel grass cutters on the market. It’s been well tried and tested and has proven to be a very solid and reliable option that can deal with most types of grass. This is a very popular mower and rightly so.
The Great States Scotts 2000-20S comes with duel wheels (10 inch front and 6” rear) to give you extra stability and help to control the mower. The cutting blades consist of 5 – 20 inch blades that can be adjusted to 9 different levels with an easy adjuster.
The weight of this mower is around 34 pounds.
Fiskars 6201 18-Inch Staysharp
The Fiskars 6201 18-Inch Staysharp is a very interesting looking machine as it does not conform to the typical layout of what a reel type mower looks like. This innovation in design leads to this machine being as close as you can get to a full blown electric lawn mower. It uses “InertiaDrive” technology which uses gears to help drive the mower as you push it which is a very welcome development. As a result of this extra technology, the weight of this machine is 52 pounds, which is heavier than average and the average price is also up around $185.
The cutting blade is 23.5 inches and the blades use StaySharp technology which ensures the blades stay sharper for longer. Another unique feature of this machine is that the grass clippings are thrown forward so they don’t end up covering you feet.
The GreenWorks brand is a big player in the reel market and this particular model comes in 3 different sizes which comprise of 16 inch, 18 inch and 20 inch cutting blades respectively. All of these models come with 10 inch wheels and helical blades, and the cost for all three of these models is in the $80 to $90 range.
These models also come with a grass clipping catcher which is rather unique for this category of mower.
All GreenWorks products come with a 4 year warranty which is double the industry standard of 2 years so this manufacturer certainly stands by their products. They also put a great deal of effort into making great looking mowers with as many useful features as possible.
Great States 415-16SK1
It just wouldn’t be good reel mower reviews page without a traditional looking model of mower to show off, so with the Great States 415-16SK1 that’s exactly what we have. This original looking machine has 16 inch cutting blades and 10 inch ball bearing wheels. It also has heat treated blades and is powder coated to help prevent rust.
The weight of this machine is very low coming in at only 26 pounds and the average cost is around $90.
While this mower may not look like much when compared to some of the other models reviewed here, it is a very solid and reliable mower. While the other manufacturers were off adding fancy features and innovating with different ideas Great States just made the original design tougher, stronger and better.
How to Choose the Best Reel Mower For You
Before you go out and order a reel type mower you should really take some time to think about your exact requirements and needs. Reel mowers can be a very bad choice in certain situations so let’s look at some of the things you need to consider before buying.
Is Your Yard Flat?
When I say flat here I really mean no bumps. You can still use a reel mower on a hilly surface but the ground needs to flat so the blades don’t bounce and catch because this will stop you in your tracks. With electric or gas mowers, the blades will still turn and do the cutting for you but not with these machines, when you stop pushing it stops cutting.
Size of Yard
Is your yard too big to push your mower around? If so, there are options available to help you push it around such as the “InertiaDrive” offered by the Fiskars 6201 18-Inch Staysharp.
If you do decide you want to go with a model that has more bells and whistles it will weigh more and be heavier to manoeuvre around and this may be an issue for you.
Type of Grass
This is a big point to consider because many people complain about the fact that reel mowers don’t work and are ineffective but in reality, they simply purchased the wrong type.
If you have tough grass such as St Augustine, Bermuda, or Zoysia you should go for a heavy mower as the extra weight will help you drive through the tougher grass.
If you have light grass you should look at a lighter model because the extra weight is not necessary and will just make your mower sink into the grass.
Tough grass = heavy mower.
Sand is a killer for this type of lawn mower. If you have sandy soil the mower will be very hard to turn and it will often sink and bite into the grass which is very frustrating.
If you have a lot of edging to do you should look for a model that is designed to assist with edging. The wheels will often get in the way and make edging very difficult so look at the Fiskars 6201 18-Inch Staysharp which has a unique design to assist with edging.
Do you need a Catcher?
If you want to use a grass clipping catcher your search will be narrowed down quite a bit and the best solution for you would be one of the GreenWorks models.
Reel Mower Video Demo
Here’s a great reel mower review demo video using the Scotts 2000-20S so you can really get to know how these particular types of mowers work.
Over to you
Now you’re armed with lots of knowledge to help you firstly decide if a reel mower is the right product for you and if so, to select the best reel mower model for you.