As a garden specialist, I am frequently asked what are the best reel mowers on the market today? Now that’s actually a more difficult question to answer than you might imagine.
There are a range of reel mower styles, methods of power, and differences in price to consider. Plus, of course, we have to deal with a wide selection of grasses – like Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Fescues, and Kentucky Bluegrass.
I have reviewed several categories and come up with, what I believe are, the top-performing mowers available today.
The following reel mower reviews will suit those gardeners looking for top quality, extra features, as well as those on a budget.
Why So Many Options?
In putting this article together, I have looked at some of the biggest names on the market: Fiskars, Scotts, American, Great States, Greenworks, Troy-Bilt, Husqvarna, Weedeater, Sun Joe, Easun NaturCut Classic and the list went on and on – so I am fully aware of the daunting task the consumer has to narrow it down.
Whilst it would be obvious to focus on manual lawn mowers, there are electric reel mowers and even gas-powered reel mowers to consider as well.
What is noticeable is the high quality of reel lawn mowers available today. The vast majority of these are made from the best possible materials, making manual mowing a lot easier than in years gone by.
I decided to base my review around 6 key areas :
- Amazon’s Best Selling Reel Mower – FISKARS 6201
- Amazon’s Highest Rated Reel Mower – FISKARS 6208
- My particular favorite for 2020 – SCOTTS 2000-20
- My ‘Top Pick’ for under $100 – AMERICAN LAWN MOWER 1304
- My recommended gas model – McLANE 20-INCH
- My recommended electric model – GARDENA 4025-U
Top 6 Best Reel Lawn Mower Reviews
1. Fiskars 6201 Staysharp Max 18-inch Reel Mower
At the time of the review, the Fiskars 6201 (previously known as the Fiskars Momentum) is an Amazon Best Seller, but what makes this mower so popular ?
Fiskars have a number of product innovations which makes their mowers stand out against other manual lawn mowers.
Their advanced technology makes this product easier to work with (the manufacturer actually claims that it’s 60% easier to push); whilst its superior cutting power makes light work of twigs and tough grasses – an area that manual mowers often fall down on.
Weighing in at less than 52 pounds it is not the lightest manual mower on review, but it is still light enough to push around quite easily. The handle is well designed and has a comfortable sponge grip. The cutting height is adjustable from a reasonable 1 to 4 inches.
Unfortunately, this mower does not come supplied with a grass catcher, although these can be purchased separately.
You will pay a bit extra for the 6201, compared with other models. However, this is a mower which is worthy of that investment.
- The one touch height adjustment is excellent.
- The reel cover stops grass from being sprayed all over you.
- Excellent cutting quality.
- The wheel design is ‘set in’, allowing the mower to cut right up to borders and walls.
Room for Improvement
- The design is functional, rather than pretty.
- It doesn’t come with a grass catcher.
2. Fiskars 6208 Staysharp Max 17-inch Reel Mower
At the time of this review, the Fiskars 6208 is Amazon’s Highest Rated model – and for good reason.
The manufacturer’s state that this mower is 30% easier to push, and certainly there appears to be some merit in this claim. The cutting ability of this mower is also enhanced thanks to patent pending innovations.
Although the overall look of this model is somewhat ‘plasticy’, it is actually very well built.
Weighing in at 41 pounds, it is very easy to maneuver and this is helped with a nice size ratio of front and rear wheels.
The handle is ergonomically set with a comfortable sponge grip. These two features always get a thumbs up from me.
The height is easily adjustable from 1.5 to 3.5 inches, through a 7-position lever. Some may find a range of just 2 inches a bit narrow, compared with other models, but I’m not a big one for scrolling through a range of heights to be honest.
What did surprize me is that a mower of this quality doesn’t come with a grass catcher, although one is available to purchase separately.
The 6208 push reel mower comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Easy one touch height adjustment.
- The reel cover stops grass spraying all over you.
- Excellent cutting ability – on all grass types.
- Very quiet to operate.
Room for Improvement
- Not such a good cut if you are going up hill.
3. Scotts 2000-20 20-inch Classic Reel Mower
This is my personal favorite out of all the reel models reviewed (and there have been a lot) – based on the product and the cost.
I just love the traditional ‘look and feel’ of this mower and the fact that it is a real joy to see a reel mower as wide as 20 inches.
You can actually complete the mowing of a reasonable sized garden just as quickly with this push mower as you can with many mechanical ones.
Weighing in at 35 pounds, this is lighter than the Friskars models mentioned above. Although the handle isn’t as ergonomically set, it is still a comfortable model to work with.
Again we are looking at a 2 inch cutting height variation – ranging from 1 inch to 3 inches, with an impressive 9 cutting height positions.
Grass catchers are not included but are available separately.
The Scotts Classic reel mower comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Nice wide reel width reduces the amount you have to walk.
- Good range of height adjustment positions.
- Solid, traditional, push mower.
Room for Improvement
- I prefer to work with ergonomically angled handles – although this one is comfortable enough.
- The recommended grass catcher for this model is ‘average’.
4. American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14 14-Inch Push Reel Lawn Mower
Now for those on a budget, I decided to look at all of the push mowers under $100. Some of them, as you would expect, were lacking in quality and my view is there is no point in buying cheap if the mower doesn’t do its job.
The one I’ve selected was not the cheapest model on the market, but it does an excellent job for the price range.
I don’t think that anyone will have any problems pushing the American 1304 mower about. At 21 pounds, it really is a feather-weight.
The slender 14 inch width means that you will have to take a few extra steps to cover your ground. However, it does cut well – reducing the need to go over parts you’ve already covered.
Of course, it’s never going to hack through long, tough, wet, grass, but then, for the money, what would you expect? The height adjustment range is a narrow three-quarter of an inch, ranging from 1 inch to 1.75 inches.
Understandably for such a low price, the grass bagger is sold separately.
For those gardeners who just want a ‘plug and play’ with no setting up nonsense, and a traditional looking T-style handle, then this could be the model you’re after.
- Great value for money.
- Wing-nuts make this very easy to assemble.
- Narrow enough to get into some very tight areas.
- Very light and easy to maneuver.
Room for Improvement
- Limited cutting height range.
5. McLane 20-inch Honda Gas-Powered Reel Mower
McLane do have a reputation for building solid mowers and have been around since just after the Second World War.
The model I have chosen in this gas powered cylinder category very much has a traditional look and feel about it, with the grass catcher (included) situated at the front. Unusually for today’s market, the grass is projected forwards, so you don’t end up with it all over your legs, or stumbling into a rear-hanging bag.
It’s a self-propelled reel mower, so pushing this 140 pound monster about is actually easier than you might think.
The 7-blade cylinder covers a quite generous 20 inches in width. However, where this mower really caught my eye was its ability to shave the grass down to a very impressive one quarter of an inch. For those that like their lawns with a bit more ‘hair’, then you can go as long as 1.5 inches.
If you have the right grass and want your lawn to look like a putting green, then you are going to struggle to find anything better than this McLane.
It comes backed with a 2-year warranty.
- Very robust, well-made mower.
- Reliable Honda engine.
- Easily chomps away at the toughest grasses and can mow your lawn VERY short.
Room for Improvement
- There’s a little bit of setting up required ‘out of the box’, but it comes with easy to follow instructions.
- The grass catcher could be angled better to swallow more clippings.
6. Gardena 4025-U 15-inch Electric Cordless Reel Mower
The Best Electric Reel Mower was a bit more difficult to find. Corded reels are available, however I was aiming to stick with the flexibility shown by the manual and gas-powered models (i.e. I didn’t want to be tied to an electrical outlet).
In the end, I was more than satisfied with the Gardena 4025-U as being, what I believe to be, the best model in this class.
Set up is quick and easy. Large wing nuts make adjustments to the height and handle very easy. It also folds down quite compact for storage.
Cutting performance is very good, although you will really be testing the 25-Volt 3.2 amp Lithium-Ion battery’s charge if you try and hack through anything too long or wet. That said, the battery life is good in normal conditions and there is a very useful LED display showing how much charge is left.
Cutting height ranges from a very short 0.47 of an inch to 1.65 inches. A rear grass catching bag is included.
It’s light (31 pounds is a good weight, considering there is a battery attached), with a nice comfortable handle and sturdy wheels – which grip the lawn well.
Overall, the Gardena has a modern ‘look and feel’ to it; is easy to operate, and comes with a 1-year warranty.
- Very quiet operation.
- Cuts very short.
- Comfortable handle grip.
Room for Improvement
- Some might find the width too narrow, resulting in a bit more walking.
- The grass catcher is quick to overflow due to it filling up from the side of the bag.
5 Tips For Buying A Reel Lawn Mower
A reel mower performs well when it has a good weight. Too heavy and it becomes hard to push it but too light and it becomes difficult to cut through heavy grass. Basically, you have to balance the weight in a manner that makes it easy for you to move it around and still get a decent cut.
2. Height Adjustment
The newest generation of reel mowers often come with some type of height adjustment. While this feature is not a necessity in order to be happy with your mower, it adds some choice in terms of “when and how often do I need to mow” and “do I want to have a close cut, or do I want to just trim the grass back a little”.
3. Ease of Use
By reading user reviews and complaints you can find reel mowers that are mighty easy to push around. Although these mowers lack engines or additional power sources, the innovative use of gears can help magnify the force exerted by you.
Think about the particular mixture of types of grass your yard is made of before deciding on a specific model. If you have a lot of dense grass or thick blades, you will want to get a heavier mower with (usually) a bigger deck, in order to successfully manage your garden. Not all reel mowers are good with thicker grass, not all can handle fairly high blades, so be aware of what type of grass you’re about to mow and adjust the criteria you’re looking for accordingly.
5. Edging & Landscaping
Traditional design of a reel mower prohibits users from edging or trimming at near the driveway and around flower beds. However, modern designs place the wheels behind the reel so that the entire front acts as the cutting head. These models are great at edging.
Reel lawn mowers appeal to many types of people: environmentalists, the frugal, exercise-fanatics, haters of machine-maintenance, lovers of quiet and safety. However, we recommend using the push reel mower for lawns of 10,000 square feet or less. Because of the effort required, we do not recommend using manual push reel mowers for large lawns unless you are very fit or mowing 10,000 square feet each day.
For which we offer above and Amazon’s 30-day return policy, FREE shipping, and quality assurance, I believe that you will find best reel mowers for sale on Amazon.