Manual lawn mowers, also known as reel lawn mowers, are popular alternative lawn mowers for smaller yards. Not only are they an affordable option, but they’re also quiet and environmentally friendly to operate. When used correctly, they will also provide your lawn with a clean, crisp cut. For city dwellers, push reel mowers are an excellent choice.
This article will cover the ins and outs of manual lawnmowers. We’ll also highlight the best manual lawnmowers available in Canada this year.
The Benefits of Manual Lawn Mowers
Manual or push reel mowers, are better than electric or gas mowers for many reasons. Here are the main benefits that make them an excellent choice for cutting your small lawn.
Not only are manual lawnmowers more affordable to buy, but they’re also essentially free to operate. Indeed, with no gas, electricity, or batteries to worry about, manual lawn mowers are a cost-effective solution to mowing your lawn. Also, since they don’t have a motor or electronic components, they require no maintenance over time. For that reason, they also tend to have a longer lifespan than their electric or gas counterparts.
Since manual mowers don’t require electricity or fuel, they produce no greenhouse gas emissions. If you’re looking to minimize your environmental footprint, opting for a manual lawn mower is a great place to start.
There is no discrete way to mow the lawn with a gas mower. While electric or battery-powered lawn mowers are quiet, they still generate some noise. A manual lawn mower, on the other hand, is completely silent to operate. This means you can mow your lawn at any time without having to worry about making noise. This factor makes manual mowers a great choice for city living.
Unlike gas or electric lawn mowers, manual lawn mowers that tear up your lawn, push reel mowers provide a cleaner cut. Grass that is cut cleanly is less vulnerable to diseases, providing you with a healthier lawn overall.
Easy to Operate & No Maintenance Required
With a manual lawn mower, there is no engine to start, you can simply push the mower forward and allow it to do its job. For that reason, the learning curve is very small when it comes to manual lawnmowers.
In terms of maintenance, it’s simply recommended to clean the cylinder regularly and lubricate the chain every five mowings.
The best part about manual lawn mower is their convenience. You don’t have to worry about refilling its gas tank, charging its battery, or finding a nearby power outlet. You also don’t have to worry about dragging around a 100-foot power cord.
For these reasons, push reel mowers are more convenient than their electric or gas-powered counterparts. They’re also perfect for taking to remote locations, such as rugged campsites or cabins deep in the woods.
The 5 Best Reel Lawn Mowers in Canada in 2024
If you’re looking to buy a push reel mower and don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a comparison of the 5 best models available in Canada right now.
Fiskars push reel mower is on this list for many reasons. With 4 wheels instead of 2, the Staysharp is easier to push than most push reel mowers. It’s also more efficient than most push reel mowers since it has a cutting width of 17 inches. Cutting height can be adjusted between 1.5 and 3.5 inches.
To ensure your comfort, its ergonomic handles are height adjustable and have a non-slip rubber coating. The Staysharp mower is designed to operate completely silently since its blades do not come into contact with each other. This also reduces the friction of the blades and their wear over time (hence the name “Staysharp”).
Finally, the Staysharp also features a unique grass discharge channel that throws grass clippings forward, instead of at your feet.
With an 18-inch cutting width, the Great States 815-18 Is one of the widest push reel mowers on the market. For that reason, it’s an excellent reel lawn mower for large lawns. It also has seven cutting height positions, ranging from .5 to 2.75 inches. The mower’s cylinder is designed for faster rotation and therefore faster cutting.
What’s also great about the Great States 815 is its durability. Its heat-treated blades are durable and offer superior performance to most. Its handles have an anti-corrosion foam coating.
The mower is stable and easy to push with its large composite wheels. Despite its 18″ width, the mower weighs just 27 lbs, making it relatively lightweight.
The Earthwise 1715 manual lawn mower is a bit more basic than the Fiskars above, but is nonetheless an excellent choice. It has an adjustable cutting height between .5 to 2.5 inches, so it’s great for cutting short grass. With 7 blades and a cutting width of 16 inches, it’s efficient and provides a smooth, even cut.
While the 1715-16EW’s handlebar height is not adjustable, it’s comfortable to handle thanks to its rubber coating. With 10-inch wheels and rear rollers, the mower is easy to push on most terrains. It’s also very lightweight compared to similar mowers, weighing just 26 lbs.
If you’re looking for a wider or more narrow cutting width, Earthwise also offers mowers with 14-inch blades, 18-inch blades, and 20-inch blades.
One of the main disadvantages of push reel lawn mowers is the cleanup required after mowing. Sun Joe’s MJ500M solves this problem with its built-in grass catcher. The mower has a cutting width of 16 inches and has 4 adjustable height positions ranging from .79 to 1.81 inches.
Weighing just 22 lbs, this mower is very lightweight and easy to push. Its 4 wheels make it even easier to push on uneven terrains.
While the mower is a great value, it’s not as powerful when it comes to cutting long grass or weeds. We recommend the Sun Joe MJ500M if you’re looking for a convenient push reel mower for cutting small lawns regularly.
The American Lawn Mower 1304-14 is perfect if you’re looking for a reel lawn mower for small lawns. The mower has a cutting width of 14 inches and a cutting height range of 1 to 1.75 inches. For that reason, the American Lawn Mower is not recommended for big lawns or for catering to precise cutting height needs.
The mower has large 10-inch, composite wheels that make it easy to push and stable on most terrains. Weighing just 21 lbs, it’s the most compact and lightweight mower on this list. The T-shaped handle has a soft plastic coating for enhanced comfort and grip.
Costing around $200, the American Lawn Mower is an excellent budget-friendly manual mower for cutting small lawns.
The Disadvantages of Manual Lawn Mowers
As manual pieces of equipment, manual lawn mowers do have their limitations. Here are some potential limitations to consider when opting for a manual lawnmower.
Only Suitable For Small Lawns
Since they are more labour-intensive than gas or electric mowers, manual lawn mowers are generally more suitable for small lawns. While some models can cover areas up to 2000 square feet, most are more suitable for small lawns. Don’t forget that most push reel mowers do not have a built-in collection bag, so you’ll also have to clean up all the grass clippings after mowing.
Requires Physical Strength
Manual lawnmowers require more physical effort than their gas or electric counterparts. While they tend to be more lightweight, pushing a manual mower for an hour can be quite exhausting for some people. Unfortunately, the more lightweight push reel mowers are lower in performance. However, since manual mowers are silent to operate, so you can mow the lawn at night or early in the morning when it’s less hot out.
Not Suitable For Thick or Tall Grass
Even though they have adjustable cutting heights, most manual lawn mowers are not suitable for cutting very tall grass. For that reason, it’s important to mow the lawn more frequently if you have a manual mower. They’re also not the best option when it comes to cutting through thick grass or weeds.
What to Consider When Buying a Manual Lawn Mower
If you’ve decided that a manual reel mower is the right choice for you, you now need to know how to choose the right model. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing a manual lawn mower for your lawn care needs:
Number/Range of Cutting Height Options
Similar to standard lawnmowers, manual mowers offer a range of cutting height settings. If you are particular about the aesthetics of your lawn, this is an important detail. Depending on the model, there are generally between 3 and 7 cutting height positions, ranging from .5 inches to 3.5 inches in height.
If you’re looking for an efficient push reel mower that can handle bigger lawns, opt for a push reel mower with a width of at least 16 to 18 inches. For very small lawns, a width of 14 inches is more than enough. The wider the mower, the fewer rounds you will have to make.
Number of Blades
Manual mowers generally have between 4 and 7 cutting blades. The more blades, the sharper and cleaner the cut, especially if you want short grass. On the other hand, fewer blades are better for cutting tall grass.
Number & Dimensions of Wheels
Higher-performing push reel mowers will typically have four wheels instead of two to allow cutting across the full width of the reel. To help provide a neater appearance after mowing, some manual mowers have additional rollers at the back. Larger, or multiple, wheels are ideal for handling uneven surfaces.
How to Maintain a Manual Lawn Mower
While push reel mowers require significantly less maintenance than their non-manual counterparts, there are still a few things that can be done to increase their lifespan. Here are some tips to prolong the lifespan of your manual mower.
Before mowing the law, check the cleanliness of the mowers blades and clean them if necessary. Similarly, the mowers chains and gears should be inspected and oiled if needed. Lastly, to avoid damage to your push reel mower’s mechanics, it’s a good idea to remove any stones or twigs from the lawn prior to mowing.
When operating a push reel mower, be cautious when it comes to cutting tall grass or thick weeds. Tall grass or weeds can end up jamming the mower and removing tall grass from the blades can be dangerous. Do not try to mow over hard objects such as branches, most push reel mowers’ blades cannot handle anything other than grass.
It’s a good idea to clean your mowers blades after mowing. A push reel mowers blades can be cleaned using a dry brush that is not too hard, or by giving them a quick spray with the hose. Be sure to dry the blades after cleaning them with water, to prevent rust from forming. Similarly, be sure to store your push reel mower indoors in a spot that is not too humid to avoid rust. Lastly, to maintain the performance of your push reel mower, it’s recommended to sharpen its blades at least 2 to 3 times per lawn mowing season.
Mow The Lawn More Frequently
Since push reel mowers are generally not suitable for mowing tall grass, it’s important that you mow every 4 to 5 days. This is especially important if lawn aesthetics are important to you. If this is not possible, opt for a push reel mower with a higher cutting height, such as 3.5 inches.