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Reel Mower Works Fabulously For Small Lawns

Updated on February 10, 2019
Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren gardens in PA, specializing in earth-friendly, unconventional, creative, joyful artistry. She works for eco & climate health.

A Reel Mower

Light and lovely - a reel mower does not need polluting fossil fuel.
Light and lovely - a reel mower does not need polluting fossil fuel. | Source

Reel Lawn Mower is the Name of Human-Pushed Mower

A reel mower is a grass-cutting machine with no internal power source. The power comes from the person behind it. Some call it a push mower, but if you search the term “push mower” on the Internet, the results are often for gasoline- or electric-powered lawn mowers. Reel mowers are easy to use, smaller to store, super cool and super green (ecologically friendly.)

Easy to Push and Store

Reel mowers come in sizes as small as those with 14 inch- wide blades to 20-inch wide (blade size increases in 2-inch increments.) When you add about 2 inches on either side, you've got the total width of the mower.

The new ones weigh as little as 20 pounds (about 9 Kg). Contrast this with reel mowers built in the 1920s: parts were made of iron and they were much heavier! Can the mowing person of your household push twenty pounds attached to wheels? Reel mowers are so much easier push to your starting location and to maneuver up and down hills because their weight is so low. On the other hand, pushing a gasoline-powered mower can be a bigger task.

When planning for storage, the “footprint” of a reel mower is a narrow rectangle, rather than the honking huge square footprint of a gasoline-engine mower. You do not need to relinquish one-quarter (or more) of a garden tool shed to store a reel mower.


Almost all reel mowers have a mechanism for changing the height of the grass which remains after the “haircut.” The operating manual describes how to change this. It usually requires a slot-head screwdriver and nothing more.

Not Expensive

I have seen some new reel mowers costing as little as $70 and others in the high $200 range. There are even a few Lamborghini-level mowers offered for over $2,000. My guess is that a reel mower costing in the low $100s range will certainly meet the needs of a lawn totaling less than 2,300 square feet. Naturally, personal preference is a factor in this opinion. Another cost advantage is that the reel mower is a simple machine with less moving parts than a mower with a motor. This leads to less expensive maintenance and repair.

AMAZON sells Reel Mowers!

Scotts Outdoor Power Tools 2000-20S 20-Inch 5-Blade Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower, Green
Scotts Outdoor Power Tools 2000-20S 20-Inch 5-Blade Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower, Green
I use a smaller Scotts 14 inch reel mower and I have been delighted with it for 6 years.

Check Ratings and Reviews

When I was researching what reel mower to buy, one brand continually had poor reviews. This was extremely useful information because it was attractive, inexpensive, and had a catchy name. All of those factors, of course, would be useless if the machine didn’t do the job or broke frequently. Obviously, I gratefully steered clear of that mower after learning this. So, be a smart consumer: check reviews which include the current year in order to inform your purchasing decision.


People used to pay big bucks for mowers which would chop up the cut grass blades and redeposit them on the ground. If you mow frequently enough, you won’t need the extra chopping feature. Pushing a reel mower provides the bonus to you of getting fresh air and sunshine-made vitamin D. Allow the clippings to lie where they fall and nourish your lawn. Problem solved.

Ecological Advantages

The most obvious advantage is that a reel mower has no fuel emission consequences. A gasoline-powered mower has stinking exhaust fumes. Additionally, one can factor in the gasoline used to drive to the gasoline station to fill the fuel can for the mower. Although an electric-powered mower is not spewing fumes, somewhere an electric generating plant may be consuming fossil fuel and creating emissions. With a reel mower, just feed the person pushing it.

Noise pollution. The reel mower does not get any more obnoxious than a steady Walter Middy-ish ta-pocketah ta-pocketah. Maybe some would feel the need to wear OSHA-style ear protectors, but I think most people will not.

A Simple Machine: The Reel Mower

A beautiful mower: my reel mower from Scotts.
A beautiful mower: my reel mower from Scotts. | Source

Go For It

You now know that a reel mower is small, light, and makes sense (cents) regarding purchase price, maintenance, and fuel. It does not cause pollution. An extra advantage is how stylish it looks. Be the trend-setter on your block – buy one! Or, if you live near me you can borrow mine to give it a test drive.

Photos and text copyright 2013 Maren E. Morgan.


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