The Best Reel Lawn Mower

If you ever need to purchase a new lawn mower, and are looking at non-powered options, I'd like to recommend one.  My mother bought it for us as a housewarming gift back in March.  I've now used it long enough to feel like I could offer such a recommendation of it.  Prior to this number we had a different reel mower which we purchased for $12 at a yard sale.  It worked, but was heavy and the blades needed frequent sharpening.  Not so with the new mower. 
The new mower is a Fiskars Stay Sharp Max Reel Mower.  I know and trusted the Fiskars brand because I use their other cutting products in my sewing.  Matt carefully researched several different models and in the end this one was the clear winner.  It had excellent reviews, a "Green Design" award from Popular Mechanics, and many more desirable features, such as:

-an 18" cut width so that you're not cutting your yard literally a foot a time.  Its amazing how much of a difference those 4-6 inches make.  All the other mowers we looked at were 12-14 inch cutting width.

-inset wheels allowing the blades to extend across the full width of the mower so you don't end up with uncut strips under the wheels and so that you can get really, really close edge closer to foundations, fences and borders.  All the other mowers had wheels on the outside of the blades.

-cutting height settings from 1"–4" which was by far the largest range on a reel mower.  This is really nice when life is too busy and your lawn gets a bit too long between mowing.  It also allows you to have greater choice in how short you'd like your grass to be.   Cutting height is super easy to adjust too.  Just a sliding lever to adjust.

-"precision-ground, hardened steel blades" which cut the grass without ever touching significantly reducing friction and wear meaning you don't have to sharpen the blades nearly as often....though I never did the recommended annual sharpening on the old mower.

-thicker blades which never touch greatly reduce jams caused by sticks and hearty weeds.

-a chain drive system that allows for easier pushing since once you get it rolling the chains act as a belt to help keep the momentum going.  Fiskars says its 60% easier to push.  I don't know what number to give it, but it is way easier.  I know that.  it might have just as much to do with how much lighter it is as much as the chain driving system, though.

-a three year warranty.

-Easily adjustable handles so that it is the perfect height for the user' comfort.

And of course it has all the other awesome traits that all reel mowers have such as not having to mess with gasoline, batteries, oil, electrical cords, or being loud and smelly.   You can mow your lawn at 5am and your neighbors won't be cursing your name.  You can mow your lawn barefoot.
Speaking of mowing the lawn barefoot, I also think it safer than a power push mower.  Its not as fast and is only cutting when being actively pushed. Even if you run over something (a rock, or garden stake, or knitting needle) it doesn't get kicked back at you with great speed.  (It will cut the knitting needle in half though.)  You also can hear people (and animals) when they approach so its harder to be surprised by them.  But, that is just my safety opinion. 
We purchased a basket which attaches to the mower to catch the clippings as they are cut.  It is a tad small, but sure beats having to rake the clippings up if we want to use them in the compost pile.  i just have to empty it a couple of times per mow.  The basket does make it harder to do edges since it just out in front so I usually go around the periphery without the basket first and then put the basket on to do the bulk of the mowing.  The basket is also sold separately, something to consider when pricing. 
It does have some plastic components (the blade guard, the knob on the tip of the height adjustment lever, and between the handles) which isn't ideal in my mind, but they are limited and all the essential moving parts are metal. 

If you want to know more here is their website.

And no, I don't work for Fiskars or anything.  I am just smitten with my lawn mower.

Here is where I also tell you that I've only used a power mower once in my life--as an intern at ZooMontana.  They told me I was going to mow around some exhibits and when I said I didn't know how they looked at me like I was from Mars.  I was in my mid-20s.  I guess most people might know how to start and operate a mower by then.  I hated it.  It was so loud and the vibrations made my arms ache.  I dislike loud things--sirens, vacuums, fire crackers, guns, lawn mowers!  It took me years to work up to using the food processor! 

With the reel mower I actually enjoy mowing the lawn.  I watch the birds flitting about (and eating my kale!) and listen to them singing in the bushes as I pass.  It is awesome.  A totally different experience than a power mower.


  1. I have had a reel mower for 20 years and used it about half those years. Mine is from Sears, is easy to push, easier than a grocery cart or baby stroller. I have never had the blades sharpened. There are never any uncut strips. It seems they are comparing this on their site to 60-yr-old mowers.

    I fell in love with mine because I hated gas mowers, fumes, excruciatingly loud engine. Hearing the birds while I mowed was my number one reason I loved it. Oh, that and not having my body shaken to pieces and my hands and arms go numb.

    My mower has the handles that go straight down to the mower body because that style mower takes less effort to control. It's physics.

    Even with all my pain and disabilities, if I could get it up the basement steps, I could still mow. I mowed only 20 minutes each day for four days straight. That way, I could time my mowing for when I would never have to mow in the sun. I never broke a sweat in that length of time.

    Since I have St. Augustine grass, I mow at the highest adjustment all the time. I hated gas mowers too. I still have one, but exbf mows or I pay someone.

    I think I wrote a post on my reel mower but never got a picture to put with it. Your mower is pretty!


    1. Moderns Sears reel mowers don't sound like they hold a candle to the old ones like yours. My neighbor at the rental let us use his while our old garage sale find went in need of repairs. It cut quite unevenly and because the wheels were on the outside of the blade left tall grass around all the edges of the fence, flower beds, etc. Sometimes they just don't make them like they used to....

      I love reel mowers. They're brilliant, I think.

  2. Love it Beth and would love to mow your lawn with it. I always did like cutting grass...And I know what you mean about loud things, I think it took you awhile to adjust to being around me also! But you learned to love my loudness!

    1. And now I don't know how I'd ever live without you!

      You're welcome to take it for a spin some time when you come visit. Did you hear they suspended the direct flights from Billings to LA? Bummer! But, they might always resume...or we'll just have to get down there sometime some other way!


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