Reel Mower Vs Rotary Mower: Which Is Better For Your Lawn?

Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Georgie Smith

Introducing, the Reel Mower

A Reel Mower refers to a mower whose blades spin vertically (up to down). It uses a scissor-like action to cut the blades of grass. Depending on the model, a reel mower has between three to seven blades. The mower trims and cuts each blade of grass like a pair of scissors.

The mower gives precise and clean cuts which make for a healthier and more attractive lawn. The lawn of golf courses looks excellent always because reel mowers mounted on tractors keep it looking clean. Manual reel mowers pushed by humans do not cut very high grass well.

Besides the manual reel mower, today electric reel mowers and gas-powered reel mowers exist.

Meet the Rotary Lawn Mower

A Rotary Lawn Mower refers to a mower whose blades spin horizontally (left to right). With the aid of sucking and tearing action, it cut the blades of grass. Rotary mowers usually have one blade, and that blade rotates very fast. This type of mower adapts quite well to small engines because of its simple and unique design.

The rotary mower cuts different varieties of grass in diverse conditions. For power, the mower comes backed by either gas or electric engines.

Comparison: Reel Mower Vs. Rotary Mower

Gone are the days when you can sit outside early in the morning without hearing the annoying sound of the lawn mower engines. From soothing sounds to heavy and annoying ones – yes, the lawnmowers have come to stay. Thanks to the advent of technology, lots of rotary mowers get into the market daily.

With the reel mower, you do not worry about the revving of engines, making it a better option when it comes to noise pollution prevention. However, the reel mower requires labor and sweat. Since the rotary uses technology to reduce manual labor, it overthrew the reel mowers and took the lion share of the market.

Many people today use the gas or electric mower while only a few make use of the manual reel mower.

Whether you are stuck with the reel mower or moved on to the rotary mower, there are tradeoffs of both. Let us now analyze the tradeoffs:

Reel MowerRotary Mower

A reel or cylinder mower carries a fixed, horizontal cutting blade at the desired height of cut.

The blade rotates at high speed while relying on impact to cut the grass.
Quality of Grass Cutting:

The reel mower produces the best cut quality compared to the rotary mower due to its scissors-like action.
Quality of Grass Cutting:

The reel mower produces the best-cut quality compared to the rotary mower due to its scissors-like action.

The reel mower blade requires periodic maintenance and precise adjustment to maintain.

The rotary mower does not require more maintenance like the reel mower.
Height Adjustment:

A reel mower can cut as close as 3/16 inches to the ground, and you can raise it to about an inch without too much loss of mowing quality.
Height Adjustment:

A typical rotary mower cannot go below ½ inches but can be raised up to 3 or 4 inches with a decline in cut quality.
Environment Impact:

– The rotary mower affects the environment negatively with noise, emission, and leaky oil.
– The rotary mower cuts damaged grasses leading to infection of grasses.
Environment Impact:

– The rotary mower affects the environment negatively with noise.
– The rotary mower cuts damaged grasses leading to infection of grasses.

– You can purchase the reel mower at a less high price compared to the rotary mower.
– The reel mower tends to be less dangerous compared to the rotary mower.
– Regarding maintenance, the reel mower requires little maintenance compared to the rotary mower.
– They work without giving off any noise – no noise pollution.
– The reel mower does not require engine power or electricity but human energy, therefore, it saves the environment since gas and electric mowers get powered from fossil fuels derived from the environment.

– The rotary mower cuts grasses extremely fast.
– The rotating mower works with great ease and can adjust easily based on the task at hand.
– The rotary mower because of its versatile nature can deal with most types of terrains, grasses, weeds, shrubs, small sticks, leaves, etc.
– Most rotary mowers come with a box or catcher for grass clippings and also provide the option of not collecting the clippings by removing the box.

– The reel mower requires human energy, so the user uses up energy and sweat doing the job. And also work in a hot environment.
– The reel mower works with less efficiency in tall grasses.
– They cannot handle thick grasses, weeds, shrubs, small sticks, and so on.
– The reel mower will not be adequate for large lawns except if they are mounted on a tractor.
– Using the reel mower takes a long time to complete a whole lawn.

– The rotary mower topples its reel counterpart concerning price because of its complex features.
– Gas or electric mowers require experts to maintain and service them. Due to the sophistication users find it difficult to repair.
– They pollute the environment with noise.
– They require and use up energy which has their source from the environment.

Verdict: No Victor, No Vanquished

After the long battle for supremacy, we are glad to announce to you that both mowers can serve you. Either of them has their strong and weak points. Assessing either of them based on their weakness or strength will not give you the best result.

The best option for you remains to evaluate them both based on your job requirement as follows:

  • Lawn Size
  • Terrain Type
  • Maintenance Culture
  • Physical Strength Budget

For instance, if you own a relatively small lawn, it becomes wasteful of you to buy a gas or electric mower. Besides the fact that your cost of fueling and maintenance goes up, you also become a nuisance to your neighbors.

However, it might seem backward to use manual human power in a mechanized and automated world – yet what do you care? If you’re working on a budget, yet need a reliable mower, opt for the reel mower. It will not disappoint you in any way.

If you own a large lawn, the gas or electric power rotary mowers will serve you best. However, you can still buy a reel mower as a backup.

If you love quality green lawns and you have level terrain, opt for a reel mower. However, if you see it as stressful, you can go for a self-propelled or battery reel mower.

In the long run, both mowers can serve you well.


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Push Reel Mower

Push Reel Mower


Material - Metal

Color - Gray

Weight - 27 Pounds

Cordless Lawn Mower

Cordless Lawn Mower

Brand - Greenworks

Hardened Plastic

Color - Green

Weight - 37.5 Pounds

Snapper XD Mower

Snapper XD Mower

Brand - Snapper

Color - Red/Black

Weight - 90 Pounds


Top 3 of The Best Reel Mowers on The Market

Great States 815-18 18-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower

Great State Push Reel Mower comes with an 18-inch cutting width, 4-spider, and 5-blade ball-bearing reels. It also has an unbreakable steel side plate for toughness and 10-inch ball-bearing wheels with radial tread tires. You can easily adjust the eight from ½ inches to 2-3/4 inches. It has a cushioned loop-styled handle for comfort.

Since the mower does not have an engine, you don’t have to worry about pollution or noise. The mower delivers clean cuts without disturbing the neighborhood’s peace. With its lightweight, you can maneuver the Great States 815 with ease. The mower came from the company the Great States which has been around since 1895.

Great States mowers have been transformed thanks to a century of technological advancement. Their mowers now come lightweight and easy to maneuver. Being around for 100 years has contributed to making their product top-rated like a fine wine that gets better with each passing day. They are the nation’s largest manufacturer of in-demand, on-demand reel mowers.


  • Cutting Width: 18 inches
  • Ball Bearing Wheels: 10 inches
  • Blade Number: 5 blades
  • Reel Type: 4-spider reel
  • Height Adjustment: ½ inches to 2-3/4 inches

Unique Features:

  • It comes with heat-treated blades for long-lasting sharpness and quality cuts
  • It has a powder-coated finished handle for rust prevention and longer-lasting use
  • Due to the lightweight of the mower, you can easily use and store this mower
  • It has low-maintenance features and hassle-free use
  • It comes with alloy steel construction for ruggedness


American Lawn Mower 1204-14 14-Inch 4-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower

The American Lawn Mower 1204-14 snips the grass, cutting each blade like a pair of scissors. Therefore, leaving your lawn healthier and greener. Due to its lightweight, you can easily maneuver and store the mower. It comes with 8-1/2-inch diameter high-impact polymer wheels with integral molded tread.

The American Lawn Mower Company owns and sells not only the American Lawn Mower brands but also the Earthwise and the Great States brands. They also license and sell reel mowers under the Scotts brand. Being around for over 120 years says a lot about the perfect touch in their products.


  • Cutting Width: 14 inches
  • Ball Bearing Wheels: 10 inches
  • Blade Number: 4 blades
  • Reel Type: 3-spider reel
  • Height Adjustment: ½ inches to 1-3/4 inches
  • Weight: 19 pounds

Unique Features:

  • This deluxe hand-reel mower works perfectly for most turf grasses
  • This mower offers clean, precise, scissor-like cuts
  • It comes with rear grass deflection
  • It comes with a tempered alloy steel reel
  • It comes equipped with bed knife blades that spin smoothly
  • It comes with easy-roll wheels
  • The mower has low maintenance feature
  • It has the superior cutability
  • You can use this mower with ease
  • It leads to healthier disease-free lawns
  • It works quietly
  • It comes at an affordable price


Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower

The Classic Scotts Push Reel Mower offers the clean and healthy cut your lawn needs. It does not have an engine and does not produce emissions or any waste product. It gives the grass blade a nice clean cut without tearing them to avoid exposing the grass to diseases. It offers a 20-inch wide cutting capacity that saves you time and gets much done in reduced trips.

The five-blade reel slices grass blades just like a pair of scissors for that perfect and healthy-looking lawn. With the Scotts 2000-20, you don’t have to worry about anything; you can operate it easily. Because of the lightweight of the Scotts 2000-20, storage comes comfortable and convenient.

Regarding performance, the Scotts 2000-20 can handle thick turfs without hassles. It comes with a unique rear wheel design that reduces drag and improves maneuverability. It has composite wheels with radial tread tires and good traction. For superior cutting, the Scotts 2000-20 come equipped with an optimal number of blades.


  • Cutting Width: 20 inches
  • Ball Bearing Wheels: 10 inches
  • Blade Type: 5 blades
  • Reel Type: 5-spider reel
  • Height Adjustment: 1 inch to 3 inches
  • Weight: 34 pounds
  • Primary Wheels: 10

Unique Features:

  • It has a wider cut compared to others – at 20-inch cutting, path number of paces you make will reduce, and the job gets done quickly
  • With a quick-snap height adjuster, you easily control the height of the cut. Fitting into nine different height slots and the quick-snap technology helps it stays in place.
  • It comes with a 5-spider, a 5-blade reel that features five heat-treated steel blades for perfect cuts always. It also comes with a smooth ball bearing that affords the blade to spin smoothly as you push the mower.
  • It comes with dual wheel tracking for maneuverability. The Scotts 2000-20 features two 10-inch composite wheels with radial tires and two six-inch tracking wheels for added maneuverability.
  • It comes with a loop-style handle that has a foam grip for added comfort during use and makes the mower easy to maneuver.


Top 3 of The Best Rotary Mowers on The Market

Greenworks 16-Inch 40V Cordless Lawn Mower, 4.0 AH Battery Included 25322

When you want a mower that you can use with ease and without noise or fumes, turn to the Greenworks 16-Inch 40V Cordless Lawn Mower. This mower does not require gas which means no stress of ignition or fuelling – once charged. The mower continues delivering perfect cuts non-stop. It has a low maintenance feature and ease of use. You can rely on the Greenworks 16-Inch for your lawn works either small or medium-sized yard.


  • Cutting Width: 16 inches
  • Battery Type: G-MAX 40V 2Ah Li-Ion Battery System
  • Battery Capacity: 400-meter square on a single charge
  • Height Adjustment: 1-1/4 inch to 3-3/8 inches
  • Wheels (Front): 6 inches
  • Wheels (Rear): 7 inches

Unique Features:

  • It features a 2-in-1 functionality of rear bagging and mulching capability for multiple uses
  • It features a 16-inch cutting deck that affords it the ability to work with ease on small to medium-sized yards
  • It comes with a single lever 5-position height adjustment which offers a cutting height range from 1-1/4 inches to 3-3/8 inches.
  • It has up to 45 minutes of battery runtime
  • It operates with 50 percent less noise and vibration compared to gas mowers
  • It comes with foldable handles for compact storage and ease of transportation due to its lightweight.
  • It comes with a 4Ah battery and charger
  • The battery can fit more than forty 40V tools

Order your own here on Amazon:


Greenworks 16-Inch 40V Cordless Lawn Mower, 4.0 AH Battery Included 25322

The Greenworks 16-Inch 40V Cordless Lawn Mower delivers more performance compared its 15-inch counterpart. It comes with an efficient cordless battery platform that supplies all the power needed to handle your yard work. Go green with the Greenworks 16-Inch 40V and clear your lawn with ease. You require no maintenance, no fuel or fumes, no pull cords, just a power button.


  • Cutting Width: 16 inches
  • Battery Type: G-MAX 40V 2Ah Li-Ion Battery System
  • Height Adjustment: 1-1/4 inch to 3-3/8 inches
  • Wheels (Front): 6 inches
  • Wheels (Rear): 7 inches

Unique Features:

  • It features a 2-in-1 functionality of rear bagging and mulching capability for multiple uses
  • It features a 16-inch cutting deck that affords it the ability to work with ease on small to medium-sized yards.
  • It comes with an easy fold system that renders it compact enough for storage or transportation
  • It comes with a collection bag, mulch plug, one 40V 2Ah Li-Ion battery, and charger
  • The battery can work with all Greenworks tools
  • It comes with a single lever 5-position height adjustment which offers a cutting height range from 1-1/4 inches to 3-3/8 inches.
  • It has up to 45 minutes of battery runtime.

Order your own here on Amazon:


Snapper XD SXDWM82K 82V Cordless 21-Inch Walk Mower Kit with (2) 2Ah Battery & (1) Rapid Charger, 1687884

We introduce you to the Snapper XD 82V 21-Inch Cordless Lawn Mower. This mower comes with a powerful, durable, and reliable battery that delivers as promised on performance. This Briggs & Stratton-powered tool comes built for durability and with a 21-Inch cutting capacity, it gets done more quickly.

This quiet walk behind the mower offers ease of use to all. You can adjust it to up to seven different cutting heights. When it comes to storage, no problem, its vertical storage capability saves up to 70 percent of storage space.


  • Cutting Width: 21 inches
  • Battery Type: Briggs & Stratton 2.0Ah Li-Ion Battery System
  • Deck Position: 7 Position
  • Blade: 1 Blade
  • Wheels (Front): 8 inches
  • Wheels (Rear): 10 inches

Unique Features:

  • It features brushless motor technology for longer-lasting and high-efficiency
  • It comes with 2Ah Li-Ion Batteries for a consistent power supply of up to 45 minutes runtime and fade-free power. It has memory retention even after charging.
  • It comes with a 3-in-1 steel mowing deck for mulching, bagging or side discharge.
  • It comes with a compact vertical storage capability for ease of storage even in the tightest of space.
  • A smart and efficient mower with load sensing technology that allows power to adjust
  • It comes with ergonomic rubber handles for touchpoints which are easy to reach
  • It comes with two 2Ah Li-Ion Batteries and a rapid battery charging station.
  • 5-year tool warranty and a 2-year battery warranty.

Order your own here on Amazon:


What Is A Rotary Mower Used For?

Reel mowers have difficulties mowing uneven terrain, at that point the rotary mower comes. While working on uneven terrain, set your mower a little higher than the reel mower to avoid scalping and gouging of slightly uneven lawns. The Rotary mower works well with cutting grass, weeds, and other vegetation.

Rotary mowers depend on rotating blades for shredding grass, and this tends to result in rougher cut and bruises on the grass. Due to this somewhat heavy-duty nature, rotary mowers find their place in chopping thick grass, weeds, bushes, and so on.

How Does A Rotary Mower Work?

Either electric or gas rotary mower, the blade cuts in a horizontal position and is usually driven by a small engine. The drive shaft protrudes downwards through the deck of the mower housing. The driveshaft is attached to a large blade that spins at high speed. The deck of the mower prevents grass and debris from getting thrown out to the sides.

In most cases, the motor sits on the deck and is usually mounted on four wheels. Gas-powered rotary mowers use internal combustion engines of two-cycle or four-cycle motors. However, electric-powered rotary mowers either on electricity (connected to the mains), rechargeable batteries, or solar power.

Most rotary mowers come with a grass catcher to direct the clippings from the mowed lawn. However, if you prefer mulching your clippings, you can remove the catcher.

The rotary mower can cut a wide variety of grass in different conditions because of its simple design. With the blade made of steel and spinning at around 3,000 rpm, the mower delivers a clean-cut (especially if kept sharp). Rotary mower blades can either be straight or curved. Also, some blades slice up grass into small pieces for mulching.

There are 2-in-1 lawn mowers with the option of either bagging or mulching while there are 3-in-1 mowers that bag the grass, mulch, or discharge clippings. Self-propelled comes with motors that move a drive shaft either connected to a chain or belt. The blade of the mower spins once the gearbox connected to an axle starts rotating.

What Is A Reel Mower Used For?

Reel mowers because they make the cleanest cuts of all the mowers available, and become useful for precision cutting of golf greens, sports fields, and parks. Push reel mowers with no engines work well for smaller lawn areas with access challenges and noise pollution restrictions. Reel mowers come in handy in international zoos, animal sanctuaries, and exclusive hotel groups.

Furthermore, much smaller and lighter reel mowers work well for small patches of ornament lawns around flower beds.

How Does A Reel Mower Work?

The reel mower blades function the way a pair of scissors does. The sharp edges of the blades working together cause a lift and cut individual blades of grass. The mode of operation creates clean and even-looking cuts across the top of the lawn as a whole. A reel mower makes it easy for lawn experts to duplicate the striped pattern found at football pitches and manicured gardens.

The reel mower or drum mower has a cylinder or reel of blades with which it cuts. Several of the blades on the reel mower rotates and are paired up with a single back blade. The back blade stands fixed at the base of the rotating cylinder between the wheels. As the wheels spin, their circular motion turns the rotating blades.

The rotating blades spin towards the back blade which then gathers up loose stalks of grass as they turn through their arc. At the point that the back-blade brushes against the spinning blades, you see clean cuts results. The spinning cylinder blade not only cuts but creates an updraft that causes grass to rise and be ready for cutting.

Most reel mowers come with a grass catcher which can be useful when you are not mulching. However, if you like to mulch your grass clippings, you can disconnect the catcher so the clippings do fall on the lawn as a rich source of nutrients.

The reel mower does a precise ‘scissors-like’ cutting action which gives clean grass cuts and leaves your lawn healthy. Because the reel mowers cut grass with interlocking blades, they do not tear or shred grass blades. Grass heals quickly from these clean cuts and is less likely to get infected.

Special Tips: How to Use the A Reel Mower Like A Pro?

We put together some useful tips for you to take care of your lawn with the aid of a reel mower to make it look like a pro doing the job. We have stated all you need to know about the reel mower above, so let us cut to the chase with our useful tips:

1. Early Morning Care

Wake up early enough before the sun gets hot and mow! With the reel mower in duty, you need not worry about nagging neighbors; you will not wake them. With your reel mower, you don’t have to wait, swing into action.

2. Regular Care

When you do regular mowing, the grass will not get too tall for you to handle. You should know that when the grass is too tall, your mower may not work efficiently.

3. Mow at a Steady Pace

When mowing with your reel mower, ensure you work at a good steady pace. Consistency will give you a better result, so steady your pace to avoid frustration. Also, note that consistency does not mean slow, if you walk too slowly, the manual mower can bind up with grasses.

4. Make an Accurate Blade Adjustment

If you adjust your blade correctly, you will get a clean cut, and the result is healthy-looking grass!

5. Mowing technique – Row and Overlap

For better results and excellent cuts, mow in rows and overlap. Begin mowing at one side of the lawn and work across in rows. Ensure you overlap rows so that each section of grass is mowed twice but once in a direction.

6. ‘Man Know Thy Grass’

By borrowing Socrates’ quote and making it our own, you need to figure out how your grass grows. Be aware that grass has different growth patterns so experiment with your mowing patterns. Varying your mowing patterns will give you the best cut for your yard. Try out different cutting heights for grass to determine which suit your lawn best.

7. Maintain a Sharp Blade

Ensure your blades remain sharp always. Sharp blades make for clean cuts and healthy lawns.


Q: Electric mowers: how do they work?

A: The electric lawn mower depends on an installed motor that propels the blade for cutting grasses. Most electric lawnmowers need a push from the user for it to cut grass. However, other types of electric lawnmowers do exist but work differently. A corded electric lawn mower needs to connect to the mains or electric grid with a cord to run.

Cordless electric mowers use batteries to run while solar ones need the power of the sun through solar cells. Finally, remote-controlled robotic lawnmowers work on their own at the press of a button.

Q: Can electric mowers mow long grass and weeds with ease?

A: The electric lawn mower can cut long grasses. However, some electric mowers cut long grasses better than others. For really tall and compact grass a riding lawn mower will work perfectly. Riding lawn mowers have high power and efficiency for lawn work.

Q: Can a reel mower cut wet grass?

A: A reel lawn mower can cut wet grasses very well if the blades remain sharp. Therefore, keep the blade extremely sharp, and it will cut wet grass without too much effort.

Q: What differentiates an electric reel mower from a manual reel mower?

A: The differences between the two of them are not much. While the manual reel mower operates as a result of pushing, the electric mower does not require pushing. The electric mower has a motor attached to the reel within the unit that supplies power to the blades.

The power of the motor propels the blade and then keeps it from getting stuck in the thick or wet grass. The manual reel mower can get stuck in the grass if pushed too fast or too slowly. While the manual mower requires human energy, the electric mower requires electricity, solar, or battery power to run.


You can now add a reel mower and a rotary mower to your collection of homesteading tools. You need both, one as the main mower and the other as a backup mower. We hope we have successfully educated you with our research and even with our first-hand experience you will convince beyond reasonable doubt either to buy one of the two or both.

Recall both have their tradeoffs, weigh your options carefully and make the plunge – it remains your world and your decision. The battle of which is better remains open to you being the judge. Reel or Rotary, your lawn will get mowed clean and healthy.

Happy mowing!

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