Recommended Reel Mowers to Buy

So are you convinced that you should be using a reel mower too? I hope so!

I live in Dallas, and have a St. Augustine grass lawn, one of the most challenging grass types for reel mowers. Right now I’m using a Mascot reel mower, which I am very happy with. The Mascot is a very heavy mower, which makes it hard to pick up. But it’s actually much easier to push through a thick, tough grass like St Augustine. It does not require a huge amount of effort to mow with. My wife is able to mow with it with no problems when I’m out of town. I’m going to try the Fiskars mower soon to see how it does, as my St Augustine grass starts to thicken up as the weather warms. I’ll be sure to update when I do.

So which push reel lawnmower should you buy?

The truth is that there’s not a single “best” reel mower that excels for every situation. Different mowers have different strengths and weaknesses.

You have to consider your type of grass (or area of the country), and the features that are important to you, and choose based on that.

I’ve narrowed things down to the four models that cover all of the various lawn scenarios, and that are also the four best reel mowers in general, in my opinion.

I sell reel mowers for a living because I work for Clean Air Gardening. I’ve been doing this since 1998, so I’ve dealt with thousands and thousands of people, and gotten their feedback. We have a 60 day money back guarantee, so we have to take the mowers back if someone doesn’t like them. That gives me an incentive to sell something that is actually going to work, so that it doesn’t get returned.

So here are the mowers for sale that you can shop for online or in local stores that I recommend, with a short explanation of why you might consider each model.

Brill Razorcut 38

The Brill Razorcut 38 is an excellent German-made push reel mower.

It weighs only 17 pounds, but is ultra durable, and features a silent cut design. This mower works well on a large variety of grasses – however, it is not recommended for thicker grasses such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, and Zoysia. With thicker grasses like those three, the light weight tends turns from a huge advantage into a big disadvantage. Overall, this is an phenomenal reel mower. Its superior construction and design make it an ideal choice. I wish I could use this on my own lawn, but I have St Augustine and cannot.

If you are in the northern half of the country, the Brill Razorcut 38 (or the similar-but-smaller Razorcut 33) is likely to be your best choice for a reel mower.

Mascot 18 Inch 6 Bladed Reel Lawnmower

The Mascot 18 inch 6 Bladed Reel Mower is a tough, sturdy push reel mower. It’s heavier than most push mowers (it weighs in around 42 pounds), yet it is still easy to use. The added weight to this real mower actually has a positive effect, as it allows you to easily push through thick grasses such as Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bermuda. The Mascot mower has a silent cut design, which means the reel blade barely makes contact with the cutter bar. Its cutting range is adjustable, from half an inch, all the way up to two and three quarter inches.

So if you’re in Florida or Texas or the gulf coast area and you have St Augustine, Bermuda or Zoysia grass, this is a mower should you consider. If you’re in the northern half of the country, the extra weight of the mower might not provide much of an advantage for you.

This reel mower is built to last, and built to keep your lawn looking sharp. If you are familiar with the old Agri Fab reel mowers from years ago, I am pretty sure this mower is a duplicate of that design.

There’s also a cool backstory about this mower. It is made in China, but an Amish company owns the design. They import them into Pennsylvania, where an American inspects and sharpens each one and adjusts it before the mower ships out to any customer.

Scotts Classic Reel Mower

The Scotts Classic Reel Mower has a large 20 inch cutting width. It’s a workhorse of a push reel mower. The cutting width of this mower, combined with extra back wheels for maneuverability, a cutting height ranging from 1 inch to 3 inches, and a reasonable weight of 30 pounds help make this mower a wonderful value for the money. It can knock out a wide variety of grasses, and is a good choice if you like to keep your grass on the tall side. It doesn’t have the build quality or elegance of a German made mower, but it gets the job done. It has been a best seller for more than a decade.

I used this mower on my own Bermuda lawn, and then a St Augustine lawn for several years until I recently switched to a Mascot reel mower. The Scotts Classic reel mower is a good mower for the money, in my opinion. It isn’t quite as easy to push through Bermuda or St Augustine as the Mascot (because it is a medium weight mower, probably), but it’s still reasonable. This is a good all around mower for someone who wants a wider cut, and the ability to cut higher, and it works all over the US.

Fiskars Momentum Reel Lawn Mower

The Fiskars Momentum Reel Lawn Mower is a brand new design, introduced in 2010. Unlike other push reel mowers, it throws the grass forward, instead of backward. It’s a pretty strange looking beast, and it’s a very heavy 53 pounds. Like the Mascot though, that makes it hard to pick up and carry, but not necessarily hard to push through the grass when you cut.

This mower ranges in cutting heights from 1″ to 4″ – the tallest cut of any reel mower out on the market. I can’t imagine anyone keeping their grass 4 inches tall, but I suppose you could if you wanted to. The Fiskars lawnmower features an 18 inch cutting width. A nice feature about this mower is also the chain and gearing feature, which is related to the way that the mower throws the grass in front of the mower instead of behind it. Fiskars says that this chain system delivers twice the energy of a normal reel mower. I’ll be testing this mower on my own thick St Augustine lawn soon, and will report back on how it does compared to the Mascot. Overall, the Fiskars Momentum looks like a durable, long lasting mower that will provide your lawn with a premium cut. The build quality is very nice on this mower.

Have a reel mower that you love? Leave a comment and tell me why you recommend it.

{ 132 comments… read them below or add one }

1 J 06.06.10 at 3:24 am

Could you please include a comparison of prices?

2 lisa jasik 06.13.10 at 3:19 am

I have never used a reel mower before, and I live in the country in south Texas and I am trying to clear out my fence line is a reel mower recommended for this type of work.. It has tall weeds and grass and some small mesquite.

3 lars 06.14.10 at 2:47 pm

@Lisa J

No, a reel mower would not work at all for that situation. You shouldn’t even try it.

You’d be better off with something more ag related like one of those DR Trimmers that they advertise everywhere.

4 Jeremy 06.28.10 at 9:11 pm

I was disappointed with the Fiskars. I bought one and did the adjustment check they recommended. It didn’t cut paper as it should so I tried to adjust it. The adjustment bolds were in so tight that I wrecked them with my wrench (the size they recommended. ) Exchanged that for another one. Exact same problem. Now I’m looking at Brill or something. Just learned Husqvarna also is coming out with a no-contact. Know anything about that?

5 lars 06.28.10 at 9:25 pm


Sorry to hear that the Fiskars didn’t work out for you. In the meantime I have used one on my St Augustine lawn several times, and I have been pleased with it. It doesn’t cut as easily as the Mascot through thick St Augustine, but it’s easy enough that it’s usable.

I kind of like the way the Fiskars mower throws the grass forward, although it can bog down when you have a really long row to cut as the grass clippings start to build up.

The whole cutting paper adjustment is a mystery to me. I’ve never been able to make any reel mower cut paper, ever. If the mower cuts the grass well, then that’s good enough for me.

I’ve found where I work that anyone who tries to adjust their mower to cut paper inevitably returns it. If you were a customer, I would probably not recommend that you use a reel mower and would suggest a standard electric mower instead. Generally, we’ve found that if someone is unhappy with one model of reel mower, they will not be happy with any others either. There are exceptions to this, but it is rare.

The Brill will have the same issue if you try to adjust it to cut paper, even though they also mention the paper thing in their owner’s manual. The best way to adjust the Brill (if it needs it) is to tighten the blades on both sides until you hear clicking, and then back off just a hair at a time until there is no more clicking. At that point, you’ll be perfectly adjusted, as close as you can get without the blades hitting the cutter bar.

6 zee 06.30.10 at 12:52 am

i’m in the market for a new reel mower. i bought a brill razorcut 38 last year and i’ve killed it. that being said, i abused the hell out of it. i used it to cut down 12″ weeds [which was a hell of a chore, and this is NOT the right tool for that job]. i ran into rocks, sticks, roots, mud, you name it. i might as well have been trying to mow the appalachian trail. my girlfriend’s dog decided it was fun to bark at it and bite the wheels while i was mowing. i let him as it was a great way to exercise the two of us and get a chore done at the same time. actually, other than knocking off the hub caps [which never stayed on again], he didn’t actually do any damage that i can see.

that being said, i do feel that the brill was somewhat cheap. i’m all about german engineering, but plastic just doesn’t hold up to the abusive conditions i put my mower through. it is a lawn mower after all.

so i’ve begun my research into reel mowers again, and this time i’ve got durability in mind. i had it pretty much narrowed down to the mascot 18 [or 21], but then the momentum hit the market. unfortunately with it being so new, no one can tell me anything about it except all the fiskars marketing terms like “30% reduced push force”. every site has the same info and almost no reviews.

i’m specifically interested in what you think about it compared to the mascot. you mentioned briefly above, but can you go into more detail? [you mentioned in your initial post that you planned on a proper review of it. i know, i’m just being impatient – sorry.]

7 lars 06.30.10 at 1:16 am


Having used both the Mascot 18 and the Fiskars Momentum on my yard, and hearing about how hard you are on a mower, I think I would probably recommend the Mascot over the Fiskars. The Fiskars is a heavy mower that has plenty of heft to it. But it has a chain driven reel, and I wonder how it would hold up under the kind of abuse you describe. The Mascot is based on a design that’s been around for decades, and there are antique mowers still going strong with that same design. So I’d lean toward the Mascot.

That said, I wouldn’t expect any reel mower to magically last forever under the circumstances you just described. It’s a mower, not a bullet proof miracle device! It would still be possible for you to break any mower when you use it like that.

8 Steve 07.03.10 at 7:12 pm

I’ve used a reel mower (Great States) for quite some time and have really enjoyed it. Recently, I bought a used Agri-Fab reel mower (predecessor to the Mascot) for the great price of $40. It’s a 21-inch, 6-bladed model. I live in Indiana and have a mixture of bluegrass, rye, fescue, and weeds in my yard. A few days after I mow, I notice that some blades of grass regardless of thickness) have several brown horizontal stripes on them. This makes me suspect that the reel and blade aren’t quite cutting like they should. Since this is a silent cut mower, I admit I’m afraid to make an adjustment for fear of ruining the alignment and never being able to get it right. Do you have any tips on adjusting the blade on these Agri-Fab/Mascot mowers? My Great States always seemed to do a better job cutting. Thanks!

9 John 07.04.10 at 5:26 pm

I’ve been happy with both the Great States 18 inch reel mower (which I gave to my brother when he moved) and the new one I upgraded to: the Yardworks 20-inch reel mower. The Yardworks is a lot like the Scott’s Classic, but with a better handle design (in my opinion). It’s easy to adjust the height, comes with a bag (which I never use personally), and has great maneuverability due to it having rear wheels. I think it’s a great mower!

10 steve 07.05.10 at 12:38 pm

@John, Thanks for your insight, we appreciate your comments.

11 steve 07.05.10 at 12:46 pm


Since this is a silent cut mower you need to precisely space the reel and the cutting bar. Since this space is extremely small we suggest you use a piece of paper to know the correct amount of space. You will need an adjustable wrench and a piece of paper.

Much like setting the space on a spark plug, you need to set the space on the reel and cutting bar. Use the piece of paper to create that space by tightening the nut that adjusts the reel. Slid the paper across the cutting bar and when it touches the reel and stops you know you need to open it up a little so the paper will barely slid through. This will take a little time and patience but should only need adjusting once or twice a year.

12 paula 08.07.10 at 7:48 pm

I am suffering from information overload. I have a small backyard and small front yard that is almost straight uphill and a 2ft plateau. I want to purchase a real mower. Was going to buy a fiskar from lowes but they have stopped carrying them, perhaps due to problems mentioned on this site. I do travel and so my grass may get tall between mowing and the last “ace hardware” real mower jammed continuously on sticks and choked on the tall grass.
Which real mover should I purchase? I loved my real mower when it worked, loved the exercise and the quiet. I don’t need it to last forever, just give a good cut. I am able to sharpen myself if needed but have to admit the fiskar 5 year no need to sharpen blade was compelling. I would rather purchase local (Milwaukee) rather than online but will do online if needed. So, which mower do I purchase?

13 steve 08.11.10 at 12:45 pm


You mentioned that you travel so you lawn grows tall on occasion. This is not conducive to reel mowers. In other words reel mowers work best when the lawn is mowed regularly and leaves and twigs are raked prior to mowing.

I suggest you consider an electric mower. If you are certain you want a reel mower, try the mascot mower, it’s a heavier mower and more likely to cut through the tall grass. However if the lawn gets to high, like 7 to 8 inches no reel mower will cut it well.

Also, keep in mind; you are the power to any reel mower so when the grass grows tall you have to push through it just like you would have to push through it with a gas powered mower, except with a reel mower you are pushing both the mower and the blades. Here is a link to the mascot mower.

I hope this helps.

14 Brian 08.13.10 at 1:40 am

My wife and I are moving into our first house in Omaha, Nebraska. One of your standard midwest split-level that has some elevation variation on the lot. About two-thirds of the lot is flat, then it slopes down to the lowest elevation at the edge of the lot. What suggestions do you have for using a reel mower on a yard with a hill, and which model/brand do you think would work best for that application?


15 steve 08.13.10 at 6:02 pm


Congratulations on your first home, that’s always exciting. I suggest the widest reel mower you can find. The width will both decrease the number of passes needed to cover your whole lawn and the wider wheel base will help on the slop. The negative will be the weight, however when you consider a standard gas mower still ways more then the heavier reel mowers you will still be ahead of the game. Take a look at these two options.

16 Anne 09.28.10 at 6:05 am

This may sound silly, but is there a big difference in the amount of effort it takes to push an electric mower vs reel mower? I currently have a Neuton mower and I’m considering the Mascot 21 for my bermuda lawn. They weigh about the same. I see descriptions of the Mascot that say things like this “This heavy duty reel mower is especially popular with people who are taller than average, fairly strong, accustomed to working with heavy duty tools and have a large yard” (does not describe me),but if I can push a 48lb Neuton, I should be able to push a 42-45 lb Mascot right? Thanks!

17 lars 09.28.10 at 2:36 pm


In general, with a reel mower, *you* are the engine of the mower, so there’s a little bit of extra effort involved in making the blades turn when you push a reel mower.

However, my wife is petite, and is able to use our Mascot 18 inch mower without problems in our St. Augustine lawn, which is also a hard to cut grass like Bermuda.

So I’d say that it’s probably going to be a little bit more effort than the Neuton, but it should be within reason for you.

What’s wrong with your Neuton that you want to switch to a reel mower? I’ve tried out a neighbor’s Neuton, and thought it was pretty good.

18 Anne 09.29.10 at 3:06 am

I really like my Neuton, but I am investigating reel mowers for a couple of reasons. My Neuton only has a 14″ cutting width and I’m trying to decide between getting the larger 19″ Neuton or reel mower. Although my yard looks level, it is uneven and I frequently see crop circles and if I raise the blade too much, it’s really too high for Bermuda. It looks like reel mower would be better for that. Lastly, rumor has it you can use reel mower with dew on ground and I would love to be able to mow early in morning. Neuton doesn’t do that well with dew. Is that rumor true or are reel mowers not great with dew either? I know dry grass is preferred but I prefer to avoid mowing in 100 degree heat too. Thanks for your help.

19 Coined 10.17.10 at 3:26 pm

I have been looking for a reel mower for years. Bermuda grass down here in Florida.
Little afraid to try it and have it not work than have to ship it back.

20 steve 10.25.10 at 2:18 pm

@Coined, Reel mowers in general are not much harder to push than a standard rotary gas mower. However if the grass is not kept and grows tall a reel mower will be tough to push through it just like it is harder to push a gas mower through tall grass. The Fiskars Momentum reel mower is a great mower to try.

21 Bill W. 03.14.11 at 11:42 pm

I have always been intrigued with reel mowers due to the way they cut grass. When I was a kid I used my grandparents gas-powered professional reel mower and made a lot of money mowing lawns. I lived in California in an area where people where just sick about how their lawns looked so you had to do a good job with a good mower. As I got older and had my own yard I always wanted that type of cut again however, gas powered reel mowers of any quality are very expensive. I now have a very small grass area to mow and think a push reel should cut as nice as a gas-powered reel. Will a push reel do as well of a job as a gas-powered reel mower?
But my question is mostly about money.
How can I justify to myself paying $269 for a mascot push reel when I can get a gas-powered mower (non-reel) for barely more than that? It’s basically a handle, a blade, and two wheels. Why are they so expensive?
If I am going to pay that much is there a professional grade model and does it come with a basket to catch the clippings?

22 steve 03.15.11 at 12:24 pm

@Bill W, Yes, a push reel mower will cut grass as well and often better than a gas powered mower. Often a reel mower is the choice of those who prefer a better cut. As for the cost, like gas mowers, the prices range depending on the reel mower style and features.

A great choice might be the new Fiskars Momentum reel mower: The mascot is a great mower as well. There are less expensive models, like the scotts classic package which comes with a grass catcher and sharpening kit;

23 Jen 03.29.11 at 8:10 pm

Living in middle Tennessee where most of the grass is fescue and the ground (at least mine) is uneven.

Q1: Gathering from previous recommendations, you’d suggest the Mascot. Is that correct?

Q2: If a hillside is to be mowed, is it better to use a weedeater or can the Mascot be safely used in spite of its weight?


24 steve 04.05.11 at 1:29 pm

@Jen, The Mascot is a great mower, it would work well for you. As for the hillside, not knowing the grade of the slope you may need to use a weed trimmer. Try mowing with the Mascot and test if you feel stable while pushing on the side of the hill.

25 Wes Booth 04.07.11 at 12:53 am

I am from Nova Scotia, Canada and currently own a lawn care company looking to make the transition to using reel mowers. We deal with upright grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescue. Is it true that Mascot produces mowers that would be appropriate for such upright grasses?

26 steve 04.13.11 at 12:25 pm

@Wes Booth, The Mascot or the Fiskars Momentum Reel Mower will work well for that grass type.

27 Beth 04.14.11 at 2:03 am

I’ve just moved into a rental with a small yard, and will be responsible for my own lawn care. I’m set on getting a reel mower, but am still unsure of which kind to get. I live in Minnesota, and am not sure what kind of grass is already growing (it looks quite fine and is kind of sporadic). I just layed down a mix of bluegrass, fescu, and rye grass (hoping it will grow…I’m new to this whole ‘yard’ situation). What would be the best mower for me?

28 Cassie 04.14.11 at 3:57 pm

My husband is looking at buying a reel mower, but we have crabgrass. He was looking at purchasing the Scotts, but reviews have said that it doesn’t do a good job with weeds or crabgrass, simply pushing taller stalks over and not cutting them. Is this pretty accurate? Is there a reel mower that would be better suited?

29 Cherie 04.18.11 at 12:58 pm

Which is best for fescue in NC mountains

30 steve 04.18.11 at 7:15 pm

@Cassie, Most if not all push reel mowers do not do well with weeds, especially crab grass, look into an electric mower, it will do well with weeds.

31 steve 04.18.11 at 7:16 pm

@Beth, The Brill Razorcut 38 is popular in your area, it should do well. Some Ace stores carry them. Or try this link

32 Marie 04.20.11 at 4:20 pm

We live in the Texas Hill Country, on a 1/2 acre lot with much of it left shrubby, rocky, or landscaped. I’m looking into getting a reel mower to use on the smoother, grassy areas. Not sure what type of grass there is but it is more native/wild grass than planted lawn. My spouse currently used an electric weed-whacker as we don’t have any lawn mower but that is a pain and takes a lot of time.

Any recommendations? I’m assuming one of the heavier models would be best, if anything will work.

Someone in town nearby is selling a Sunlawn reel mower. Anyone know about this brand?

33 steve 04.22.11 at 4:12 pm

@Marie, Assuming the grass area is mainly grass and not weeds most any reel mower will work. If you have a lot of weeds it may cause a problem unless you keep up with the mowing. Weeds tend to grow taller and faster than grass and when you go to mow the tall weeds are not cut due to their height.
The Sunlawn (made in china) is a generic version of the Brill Razorcut (made in Europe). Either will work well as long as the grass type is not Bermuda or St Augustine. If so then I suggest the Fiskars mower.

34 mike 04.25.11 at 3:18 pm

I am considering starting a lawn care business but then recently took into consideration the cost of gasoline and realized that now is probably a good time to start a such a business with a gas free mower / tractor with the assumption that the manufacturing industry has also been preparing for the future and therefore is now making riding reel and electric mowers for people like myself in such a circumstance. Can anybody tell me about such an item as a gas free lawn mower which will work well in such a business?

35 Art Osten, Jr. 04.28.11 at 4:25 am


I live in a Chicago suburb. My 5,000 sq. ft. lawn is a mixture of rye, fescue, and bluegrass. I’ve used an 18″ Craftsman Quiet Cut reel mower for the last 8 yrs. I keep it sharp and adjusted but still have to make 3 or more passes to get a good cut, maybe because the ground was graded unevenly to drain rainwater… I keep my grass at 2.5″ – 3″ high. I’m wondering if a 7 blade reel mower, or any other, would give me a good cut with one pass and if there are any you’d recommend.

Also, reel mowers don’t provide any suction to lift matted grass. Is there any reel mower that has something like a mechanical brush to raise the grass just before it is cut?


36 sarah hobbs 05.01.11 at 2:50 am

We are strongly considering a reel mower for our lawn this year. We do not have a nice smooth lawn; there are gophers, moles, cows that get out (We live on a farm) etc. Our lawn is predominately bluegrass with weeds and whatnot thrown in. Suggestions?

37 mark 05.01.11 at 4:21 pm

Sorry to be “Debbie downer” but I have owned about 3 reel mowers- just purchased a Fiskar Momentum, and the bottom line in my opinion is this: Reel mowers are environmentally great, healthy to use – (excersise) nostalgic, etc. BUT, they don’t cut the grass nearly as well as a motorized mower! I’m talking in both the efficiency of cutting the grass, and the way your lawn will look when finished. I often have to go over an area 4 or 5 times to try to cut all the grass that it missed on the first 3 swipes. Reel mowers push down the grass rather than lift up the grass and cut it, like power mowers do. I don’t know why they can’t invent a reel mower that “really” works. When you are done with the lawn, it does not look nearly as well manicured as a power mowed cut. Not even close. Every time I have talked to someone on the phone who is selling real mowers, they tell me how it will produce a “nicer looking lawn” than a power (rotary) mower. They are liars!!! I even tried taking my reel mowers to other lawns thinking it was just my lawn, but got the same results. I desparately want a real mower to make the lawn look as good as power mowers but they dont. Unfortunately, reel mowers in my opinion, are like the difference between me cutting my own hair or going to an experienced hair cutter – no comparrison. So the bottom line is they cut the grass; are great for small lawns but if you want that beautiful freshly mowed look, you won’t get that from a reel mower. I welcome suggestions, comments etc. Please – prove me wrong.. but be truthful!
note: I live in Pittsburgh, PA . thank you.

38 Rob G 06.02.11 at 7:31 pm


I bought a home that features a Bermuda grass lawn and this is my first ever experience with Bermuda. My rotary mower has been awful when cutting my Bermuda when I hit anything close to uneven dips in the lawn resulting in some scalping. I have made the decision to switch to a reel mower to get a better cut and avoid the scalping. My question is…without spending $200 and up, is there a nice reel mower on the market in the $80 to $120 price rangethat will give me a great cut for my Bermuda lawn in Central North Carolina? Thanks for your time.

39 lars 06.02.11 at 7:47 pm


American Lawnmower makes a 7 bladed reel mower that is a lower price point, but that’s about all there is in that range that works on Bermuda that I am aware of.

40 DSGrub 06.06.11 at 12:00 pm

Does anyone have any information or experience with the McLane manual reel mowers such as the 17-PH-10 blade or 17-PH-7 blade mowers? I used a Task Force I bought from Lowes last year and enjoyed it with a couple of exceptions. The wheel to blade was friction on a rubber piece, which would slip and the blade to knife seemed to get out of adjustment quickly. I am planning on purchasing another higher quality and saw the McLane but very little information.

41 Dave McConnell 06.06.11 at 1:11 pm

I recently decided to abandon my gas powered mower for a nostalgic reel mower. One of the first things I found was that today’s mower is nothing like I remember. My memory is of a rusty contraption that always needed adjustment. Now we have the Fiskars, an excellent example of new and exciting engineering. This mower is absolutely the quietest mower on the market, could not believe I was actually mowing the lawn. Unfortunately, it was not as efficient as it was quiet, took me multiple passes to mow what is basically a mix of fescues. I live in north VA and my lawn is moderately healthy with a few small bare patches found in the shade.

I found the Fiskars very easy to push, once you got it going, it is heavy compared to many of the other reel mowers on the market. But, having to go over the same area two and three times was not my idea of a quality mower, especially at $200+.

After doing my own tests with four different brands, “mowing the lawn”, I found the Brill to be the best at cutting the grass and leaving it in excellent condition. My only complaint with the Brill is the cutting height. While I agree that the recommended height for a power mower is based on the fact that it tears the grass, it gets downright hot in July and August and I would like to mow the lawn at over 45 millimeters during this time. The Brill does not allow for a greater height, so for now I have resorted to adding duct tape to the wheels in an effort to add cutting height.

I would like to know if anyone has engineered a better solution and if so, please send pics and step by step instructions.

Keeping it green in VA….

42 Steve 06.30.11 at 1:09 pm

I have a Great States 16″ reel mower that I’ve had for at least 10 years. I bought it when I was renting a small house. It hasn’t seen much use since. I bent the shaft on my cheap Lowe’s gas mower and didn’t have the money to replace it at present, so I got out my reel mower for this week’s mowing. I was very pleased with the cut, but I have a 1/4 acre lawn. Would a reel mower with a larger cut make the job any easier? I was thinking of the Scott’s classic, but I wonder if my yard is too big for a reel mower.

43 steve 07.05.11 at 2:47 pm

@Steve, If you present mower is in fairly good condition there will not be a whole lot of difference except for the wider cutting path would make for a few less passes.

44 Steve 07.06.11 at 2:39 am

My present mower is in great shape. In fact, I just pulled the wheels off and cleaned and lubed everything. I also used the information on this site to adjust the blades. I think it is actually cutting better now than when I bought it new. I may still buy a larger reel mower, but I’ll keep this one. It can’t hurt to have a backup.

45 Tom 07.13.11 at 12:29 pm

I’m considering buying the Fiskars or Mascot 6 (actually the Whisper Cut made by Power Draulics). Two questions, is the Mascot 6 (or Whisper Cut) easier to push and better at cutting since it has 6 blades (compared to the Fiskars)? Second, do you recommend the Whisper Cut model (compared to the Mascot)? Thanks!

46 steve 07.15.11 at 3:21 pm

@Tom, As far as I know the two models sell equally well, both are well built reel mowers. No, the 6 blades on the reel does not necessarly make it easier to mow with compared to the Fiskars. I think its a toss up, but would lean more toward the Fiskars mower.

47 Bonnie 07.18.11 at 8:10 pm

I am a single woman and just have about 300 sq ft of grass so I purchased a scotts 20″ mower. I just put it together and I cannot push the darn thing the front wheels won’t roll it goes backwords but the blade won’t roll. Any suggestions.

48 lars 07.18.11 at 8:13 pm

@Bonnie See this page. Read the section called “Adjusting the Blades on the Scotts Classic Mower.” I think the issue is that someone adjusted the blades so tight that they can’t turn. You should be able to fix it with a large flathead screwdriver and about 10 minutes of time messing with it.

49 Trudy 07.19.11 at 4:54 am

Any experience with the Ellison brand? I’ve read a positive review of the Ellison Evolution, but would like to get more than one opinion. Thanks.

50 steve 07.22.11 at 5:21 pm

@Trudy, The Ellison Evolution reel mower is fairly new and we have just got our hands on one. will be testing it the few week and will give our thoughts ASAP.

51 Mike 07.26.11 at 4:09 pm

I’m eager to hear what you think of the Ellison Evolution too, especially how it works on St. Augustine.

52 lars 07.26.11 at 4:19 pm

@Mike and @Trudy

I tried an Ellison Evolution reel mower on my St. Augustine lawn last weekend.

I was able to mow the St. Augustine, but I had to move the cutting height all the up to the setting just under the maximum 4 inches. When I tried to cut lower, the mower would jam and couldn’t push through. I’d say that it’s about 85 percent as good as the Scotts Classic on St. Augustine, which itself is about 80 percent as good as the Fiskars or the Mascot reel mowers.

I think the Ellison would do well on northern grasses, but I’d give it about a C plus on St. Augustine, Zoysia or Bermuda. It would get the job done, but it might be tough work. But many reel mowers won’t cut those grasses at all, so that doesn’t mean that the mower isn’t any good. The Brill, for example, just doesn’t work on those grasses at all really.

The grasscatcher system was well designed and easy to attach and detach from the mower. The height adjustment is a single lever that is easy to move up and down to set the cutting height.

It has a very long warranty period of 4 years. The design is similar to the Scotts Classic, but it seems like it has a better build quality than the current Scotts Classic.

I’ll try to get a page up about it in the next week or two.

53 Mike 07.26.11 at 5:33 pm

Thanks Lars, for the great feedback. The Fiskars or Mascot are the better choice for me, I’d say.

54 Trudy 07.27.11 at 8:33 am

Thanks, Lars. I just have northern grasses to deal with, so it sounds like the Ellison could be an option for me.

55 Julie 08.20.11 at 12:49 am

We’ve just taken delivery of and assembled our Fiskars Momentum Reel Mower. Only problem is it only wheels backwards not forwards! Any thoughts? If it wasn’t 8.40pm on a friday evening (customer service not contactable till Monday) I wouldn’t be bothering you! It’s just so frustrating as I wanted to cut the lawn tomorrow before it gets too long!

56 Julie 08.20.11 at 1:00 am

PLEASE IGNOR PREVIOUS QUESTION! My husband has just had a go at pushing it and it works fine! I was just being too gentle as I didn’t want to break the mower!

57 Ron Reinhardt 09.26.11 at 3:40 am

Just wanted to comment on the Fiskars Momentum Mower and provide a word of warning to potential buyers. Let me start by saying that I LOVE the mower in many ways, and have had it for about a year. It’s probably perfect for someone with a small yard. I mow approx. an acre of grass here on my property in Central Fla. What I’d like to point out is that, much to my disappointment, this mower didn’t hold up well for me. The chain system is their Achilles Heel in my opinion. My chain started locking up in the sprockets, then actually coming off a few months ago. I figured sand from my yard had gotten in the sprockets and simply worn the teeth down. Fiskars has GREAT customer service, and they promptly sent me out a new chain and 2 new sprockets for free. I installed them and it was fine for a few mows, then just the other day the chain popped off AGAIN. I know it’s not from sand this time. All I can figure is that other parts must have worn down and loosened. This mower just doesn’t handle tough yards like mine. I’ve suggested to them to put some kind of tension roller (like on a bike derailleur) to keep the chain taught. Until they address that issue, I’m getting ready to buy a more durable trouble-free mower. Hope this might save someone the aggravation I’ve been dealing with.

58 lars 09.26.11 at 4:51 pm


Thanks for your feedback. I have not heard of that issue from anyone else. I’ve been using that mower on my own small St. Augustine lawn for about a year, and have not had any trouble with mine. You might consider the Mascot, which can’t cut as high, but is a pretty rugged mower. It is a design that has been around for years and years, and I think it might be from the same exact tooling as the old Agri Fab reel mowers, although I have no way of verifying if that is true.

59 Raymond Rabbett 11.15.11 at 4:19 pm

I own three reel mowers, the Scott’s Classic, Brill accu 38 (battery Reel mower) and the Mclane 17 inch 5 blade manual push mower. I Like all three and yet each has its pro and con’s. My lawn is approximately 120 by 125 foot corner lot, eliminating house, driveways etc. I have a little over 5,000 sg ft of lawn(northern Ohio). The first thing I should say is that I mow every three days or so, so my reel mowers are not cutting heavy grass. The lawn has a fresh manicured look all the time.

The Scott’s Classic is very easy to use, very easy height adjustment from 1 to 3″ and overall would be my choice if I had to use only one. It’s draw back is it needs more attention to adjustment of the cutting bed/blade spacing and sharpening due to its contact cutting design.

The Brill battery reel mower is a pure joy to use and the best things about it are its light weight, around 25lbs with battery installed. The fact that when the battery dies (appr 30 to 40 minutes of cut time) you can still mow just like any reel mower. The battery causes the blades to spin at a much higher rate then just pushing which causes more cuts per foot and therefore a finer finish. It is a silent cut mower and has never been sharpened or adjusted . The cons are the maximum cutting height is about 1.8″ so I use this mower in the spring and late fall . I like to allow my lawn to reach a 3″ plus height in the summer and then cut to a height between 2 1/2 to 3″. This helps shade the ground and allows the root system to grow deeper, requiring less watering, The brill is retired for the summer. Replacement batteries are expensive and hard to find. The manufacturer states the battery will recharge about 1,000 times before needing replacing.

The Mclane is a front throw reel mower that has the capability to cut to 2 1/2 inches. It is extremely well built chain drive silent cut machine. Mine has never been sharpened but does need adjustment but rarely. Because the wheels are inside of the cutting surface it can edge a little better than the other two I own. The clippings basket attaches to the front of the machine and does a great job of collecting the grass should one have a need . I like the grass to be left on the lawn for fertilizer. (because I mow often I have no problems with thatch or unsightly dead grass on top of the lawn) It has the greatest number of height adjustments from about 1/2 ” to 2 1/2″ making it a great mower for low cut grasses such as bent grass. Its cons are it is very heavy and not as maneuverable as the other two are and even though it has the greatest spread of height adjustment it can require removing and reseting the wheels, a time consuming process..

I also own a rotary cordless Black and Decker Self propelled mower SPCM1936 when the lawn gets away from me or for bagging fall leaves, but I prefer the reel mowers scissor like cut vs the rotary cut.

I thought this might help your readers in making a decision as to what to purchase. I believe that a reel mower is the way to go but you have to be willing to mow more often and at times in different directions at the same time (double cut). I also think that 5,000 sg ft of grass is about the maximum one would want to attempt with a reel mower.

60 lars 11.15.11 at 4:58 pm


Thanks for the comprehensive and knowledgeable comment and advice!

61 Shelley 01.02.12 at 3:42 pm

I just moved to North Florida and decided to buy a reel mower, mainly for environmental reasons. I always used a push mower before rather than a self-propelled (it’s great exercise), so I figured I would be able to handle it.

I got the Scott’s 20-inch reel mower, and wow–it has exceeded my expectations! It’s actually easier to handle than my old push mower because it’s lighter. It’s more maneuverable, too, and I love the soft whirring and the smell of cut grass, rather than the loud engine and gas fumes! I’ve got a St. Augustine lawn, and it’s working just fine on it. Love, love, love it!

62 David 01.20.12 at 1:52 am

Just found your site and I am looking to replace my Honda power power. I also have a power reel mower I think 25 inch trimmer with honda engine. I like the trimmer, but the maintenance cost is very high. If you did the recommended maintenance, it is about $500 per year which was mid year back lap and begin of year sharpening. The dealer moved and is now about 60 miles.

I have El Toro zoysia which cuts fine with a standard mower, however the honda gets to be a little week during after a few months of the grass greening and thickening. I like to mow it short as possible and look good. The honda will bog down and then catch the grass and leave marks.

I used to mow every 2 or 3 days with the power reel mower as I liked the look and did not mind the excersise of walking around the yard. The yard is about 25,000 sq feet. I was told this might be a bit for a push reel, but sounds like these work pretty well.

Lars mentioned the Mascot and would seem the best choice for me. Is there any quality, performance difference going with the 21 over the 18″

Thank you

63 steve 01.20.12 at 4:47 pm

@David, The difference is going to be two fold, the weight, since the 21″ mascot mower is wider it will be heavier but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The weight allows the mower to get down into the dense grass allowing it to cut it instead of floating on it like a few lighter mowers might do. The wider cutting path means you’re cutting a larger patch of grass and if it’s really dense that makes for more grass you have to push through. The 18″ mascot might be a better choice for extra dense grass since the patch you are cutting is a little less wide.

64 David 02.11.12 at 10:20 pm


I have not purchased one of these, but as spring nears, I need to. I noticed the fiscars momentum is fairly new and is rather heavy as is the mascot. Lars mentioned he has the Fiscars Momentum and the Mascot. Is there a preference on these? I do have about 20,000 sf to mow, but I may only do the back with the push mower. I will decide that when mowing time comes :) It sounded like the fiscars requires less aligment and sharpening than the mascott, but the chains may require more maintenance.

Just looking for recommendations before I buy.


65 lars 02.13.12 at 12:48 pm


First of all, I’d say that I wouldn’t choose a reel mower for so much grass. In my opinion, it will end up being more of a time commitment than most people are willing to live with.

If you do use a reel mower, you should use the 21 inch wide model of the Mascot. It is so much wider than the Fiskars that it will make a big difference in how long it takes to mow over such a large amount of grass.

66 Mike 02.20.12 at 7:31 am

Appears my question has been asked many times, but I will include my specifics to see which one is recommended. I am looking at the Mascot 18 vs the Fiskars Momentum. Appears Mascot was recommended, now Fiskars seems to get the nod, but not positive. Let me know which one you lean toward, or let me know if another would be better. I live in San Diego, near the coast, and have fescue. Relatively small yard, about 650 square foot rectangle in back yard and about two 200 square foot rectangles in front yard. I am leaning toward a reel mover vs. gas mostly due to space issues in garage and would like to hang mower on wall (in stud) if possible. I also have raised brick on edge of grass and read the fiskars cuts closer to the edge. But I do have a string trimmer to cut edges. What mower do you recommend. Also, what height is best for fescue grass. If the Mascot a read there are two versions, one that cuts 2 1/4 inches and one that cuts 2 3/4 inches. I may be leaning toward Mascot, but made in China is not a selling point, but Fiskars isn’t made in US either I assume. Thanks.

67 steve 02.20.12 at 7:58 pm

I would go with the Mascot, I imagine its personal opinion, both will likely work fine for your use, but the mascot will hang better on a wall, the Fiskars will stick out to much. Fescue should be cut at a height of 2.5 to 3 inches, but in shady areas can be as high as 3.5.

68 matt 02.23.12 at 9:57 am

I Have Hybrid Bermuda overseed with a blend of cool-season Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass, which mower would you recommend?

I have been looking at the American/great states 7 blade, will this get me that ballpark look? or should I get a 5 blade model?

My experience is with solely Kentucky bluegrass and a gas mower. I fell I have that down, growing up we had the greenest and thickest lawn in town. I now live in California and have this blended lawn and I would like to start to use a reel mower not only for the environment but also for the health of the lawn. It is just all so foreign to me. Please help.



69 steve 02.27.12 at 4:47 pm

@matt, Either mower will do the job well.

70 Mickey 03.14.12 at 7:06 pm

Thanks for the great info. I have a new house in Texas with Bermuda Sod laid out. I am starting to see it green up as well as see lots of weeds. I was planning on getting a mower, but not sure a reel mower or electric mower. Here is the way my grass is – its a lake lot, so the rear has a decline down to the water, many areas are not level as construction crews footprints may have left some holes/crevices. I was looking at the scotts or troy built reel models. Not sure on the electric ones at all.


71 steve 03.15.12 at 2:36 pm

@Mickey, Yes, you may have problems using a reel mower if your lawn has lots of weeds and not fairly flat. The water will give you problems too, and unless you use a battery powered mower, I would not use one with a cord seeing you will be mowing in water.

72 Julie 03.21.12 at 5:03 am

Hi, can anyone suggest a reel mower that is light, low maintenence and will cut through thick grass? Price is not a concern.

73 steve 03.23.12 at 3:02 pm

@Julie, What you ask for does not exist. With thick grass you need a heavy reel mower or it will just float on top and not get down into the grass allowing it to cut. I suggest one of these: or this one

74 Benita 03.27.12 at 3:17 am

Ahhh, we just moved away from our massive Oregon wet and thick 1000 plus lawn to a patch of New Mexico high desert pokey dry grass! We definitely are looking for a reel mower – after burning through gallons of gas a year! We were told to look at American and GreenWorks. Do either of those compare to the Brill? We are also thinking about going to an “Eco-lawn” so any suggestion on mower for these alternatives would be helpful! Thanks – Benita

75 Carolyn 03.27.12 at 10:17 pm

Will the the Brill cut-up dried leaves?

76 steve 03.28.12 at 3:13 pm

@Carolyn, The Brill or any other push reel mower will not affectively cut up leaves.

77 steve 03.28.12 at 3:19 pm

@Benita, The Brill Razorcut 38 is a great mower, it cuts to 2 inches so make sure you can cut your type of lawn that short. The Fiskars mower is another great reel mower –

78 Fred 04.02.12 at 4:17 am

I use to use a reel mower about 20 years ago and with the high gas price and my old gas mower on its last mow I am now looking into getting back to using one again. I am looking at the Fiskars, I just moved on to .2 acres with a home and 2 car garage place in northeast Missouri and have no idea of what kind of grass I have, it does have some thickness to it. I going to get some Zoysia grass in the next year or two depending on how the lawn looks later this year.

79 steve 04.05.12 at 2:01 pm

@Fred, The Fiskars is a great reel mower, as well as the Mascot mower. Both will serve you well.

80 Islandder 04.07.12 at 4:28 am

Hello! Great info on this site – thank you. As long as I agree to do the mowing, my husband says to go ahead and get a reel mower.

We are on the west coast, north of Seattle and have a newly sodded (last fall) small lawn with a combo of Kentucky blue, fescue and rye. The yard is almost flat and the lawn is surrounded by bark-mulched garden beds. It looks rich and healthy so far and will soon need its first cut. There are no tight corners and only one tree to mow around. No weeds (yet).

I think I’ve narrowed it down to the Scotts Classic and the Fiskars Momentum – both available locally. I’m a little timid about spending a lot of dollars in case I don’t end up liking the reel mower concept. The Scotts seems basic and utilitarian, but I’m intrigued by the Fiskars. Is it easier to push? What’s the advantage of throwing the cuttings forward? Does it get closer to edges with the wheel placement behind the cutters instead of on the sides? How do these “silent” cutters cut if they aren’t making contact? Where is each one made? I’ve read several sites claiming the handle of the Scotts breaks easily and that concerns me about the quality of it.

Argh! I’m wracked with indecision! Help!

81 Robin 04.09.12 at 1:41 am

You mentioned in your writeup on Fiskars that the chain system is suppose to “deliver TWICE the ENERGY”. What is that suppose to mean? and did you find it to do that? – what ever “that” is!

82 steve 04.09.12 at 2:46 pm

@Islandder, The Scotts Classic mower is a good basic reel mower and while there have been a few isolated problems with the handles those are isolated to people who either assembled them incorrectly or are very rough on the mower itself. The Fiskars is a great push mower and there are not really any advantages to a front throwing mower it’s just a different style. Don’t over think this, its just your lawn. If it were me, I think I would go with the Fiskars. The silent cut mowers work like scissors and most of these mowers are made in China, with few exceptions.

83 steve 04.09.12 at 2:51 pm

@Robin, The chain drive on the Fiskars mower was designed by Fiskars and called “InertiaDrive”. While most reel mowers work by having the reel turn with an internal gear within the wheel that spins the reel, the Fiskars uses a chain from the wheel to the reel.

84 LP 04.14.12 at 2:23 am

We live in Wa state – so probably don’t have the grass that needs it, but would a 7 blade mower help – our grass is frequently trampled down by lots of kids. Can I go wrong with 7 blades? Does it only cut a certain kind of grass, or wouldn’t it cut all kinds shorter?

85 Roger 04.16.12 at 3:30 pm

Ok, so my son and I are going to try to grow a putting green. The problem we are now faced with is finding a reel cutter that will cut at around 3/16 inch height. The lowest we’ve found so far is 1/2 inch. Any ideas or can these be modified to cut shorter?

86 steve 04.18.12 at 1:40 pm

@Roger, Find smaller wheels or buy a greens mower.

87 steve 04.18.12 at 1:41 pm

@LP, I doubt a seven blade reel mower with kids trampling down the lawn will help, try a fence, sign or stick.

88 Islandder 04.19.12 at 9:45 pm

Hello again!

I bit the bullet and got the Fiskars. It seems like a quality machine – not at all flimsy. Very sturdy. Not too heavy to move around and a little easier to push around than my old gas mower. Seems to do a good job cutting, though in a couple of sections I wanted to run back over at a right angle to the first pass. Most of all, the silence is golden! Thanx for your advice.

89 Fred 04.23.12 at 2:39 am

Thanks Steve, I bought the Fiskars two weeks ago and love it. I have even got my neighbor using one. It is a lot easer to use than the gas mower manly because it does not take 10 minutes to get started. I have come across a weak point and that is the R-clip that holds the handle on. I have had one leave the mower while I was using it and it made for a near problem. The book that comes with the mower gives some good info on adjusting the mow height and putting it together, but lacks any real info on how to adjust the height of the handle (I just used the 3rd hole and ran with it). And I like the way it tosses the grass forward so my shoes are not covered with grass when I am done.

90 MarylandBill 05.02.12 at 8:57 pm

A week or two ago I asked a question about the Fiskars and the Ellison/Husqvara Evolution mowers. Based on the feedback I received (and other reviews), I decided to go with the Fiskars momentum (I think it is now the StaySharp Max). Have cut my grass with it twice (and also had a chance to use an 40+ year old reel mower my parents bought that has sat in their basement for 40 years). Here are my general impressions.

The mower is easy to put together. The clips attaching the handle to the mower leave a little more play than I would have liked, but it doesn’t cause any real problems. It is quiet and does do a good job on cutting grass and low weeds. Crabgrass and tall weeds like dandelions though are mostly left untouched (well, it will get crabgrass somewhat if I set it really low…). Pushing it is not too tough, and significantly easier than 40 year old mower my parents have (which is all metal and has Made in England stampled in large letters on the wheels).

I do have one complaint however. I was worried about the small front wheels, but they have proved not to be a problem. It looks like most of the weight force is on the rear wheels (which makes sense). As a result the front wheels tend to skip small holes and hollows in the ground. I wish the rear wheels were a bit bigger however. I am not sure how big they are, maybe 6 inches — in any case, they have gotten stuck in a couple of ruts in my lawn. not a big deal really, but also something I suspect would not be a problem with some other other mowers.

Still all in all, I really like the mower.

91 Vikki 05.03.12 at 2:12 am

I’m considering a reel mower for my trimming only.. I have a large yard that I mow with a rider, but I have many pine trees and other bushes that my rider can’t get close enough with. I was thinking about replacing my non working gas push mower with a new one.. but would a reel mower work for me?? Even better possibly? It needs no gas, no spark plugs.. (I like the sound of that!)
By the way, I don’t want to invest in a gas powered trimmer. I have an arm that just can’t carry one of those heavy things around any more. I live in northern WI.

92 steve 05.04.12 at 5:21 pm

@Vikki, Unfortunately if you have pine needles, leaves, etc a reel mower is not your best choice unless you can rake each time before mowing.

93 Vikki 05.04.12 at 6:05 pm

Thanks, I appreciate your reply!

94 NESTOR ARUCAN 05.13.12 at 6:33 pm

Does the Mascot reel mower come with a catcher. I don’t like grass clippings to get in my shoes and bring it inside my house. Thank you.

95 Tallulah 05.17.12 at 7:03 pm

I have a large backyard in Florida that is mostly covered in pine bark nuggets with some grass and weeds popping up randomly. Is there a push reel mower that could be adjusted high enough to cut the weeds and roll over the bark?

96 lars 05.17.12 at 7:13 pm


No. The bark would get stuck in the reel of any reel mower and constantly stop the blades from turning, leaving you frustrated and angry. Your yard would not be a good candidate for a reel mower, unfortunately.

97 lars 05.17.12 at 7:13 pm


You can buy a catcher for it, but it doesn’t come with one, I believe.

98 virgil davis jr 05.20.12 at 1:45 pm

i need to buy a reel mower! here are some specifics, the fiskars is looking good, but with the rollers in the front it makes for more trimming later? so i’m looking for them small wheels to be in the back of the reel. also i have rough terrian (mole tracks) , currently i’m mowing with a 42″ rider set at the #4 position I want to say thats 4″, this height alows the mower to cut the grass (not the dirt) so i’m looking for a 4″ cut height? also allows me to pass over the rocks! next ? 18 or 20″ wide i don’t need a bagger or want one throwing the grass in front of the mower (to be mowed again?)! been trying to look on-line , with limited success and am getting brain over-load can someone help?

99 Chris 05.24.12 at 4:56 am

My gas mower has finaly bit the dust. I was planning on purchasing a Scotts Classic reel mower, but I do not know if a reel mower will work with my lawn. The ground is pretty rough and uneven. Will a reel mower work on a lawn that is less than perfect? Thank you…

100 steve 05.25.12 at 6:36 pm

@Chris, A reel mower works best with well kept lawns. The rough ground will not be as much a problem as weeds will be. Typically weeds grow taller than the grass and once its 6 to 8 inches the reel mower has a hard time cutting it. Also, if you lawn has leaves, twigs, etc in it then that will be a problem too.

101 steve 05.25.12 at 6:38 pm

@virgil davis jr, The Fiskars mower is your best bet, however the Mascot is a great mower as well. If the cutting height is the most important than you will need to stick with the Fiskars.

102 Josh 05.30.12 at 10:00 pm

I live in Michigan and am thinking about buying a reel mower. My lawn is around 2000 sq. ft. and has kentucky bluegrass and fescue. There aren’t a lot of weeds, it’s pretty even terrain, but isn’t the greenest lawn on the block (I don’t water it). I’m trying to decide between the Scotts Classic and Husqvarna Evolution. My concerns are about the handle durability on the Scotts and the lack of reviews with the Husqvarna (only sold at Lowe’s). Is one of these mowers better for my lawn or should I just stick with my gas powered one?

103 steve 06.01.12 at 3:13 pm

@Josh, If you have lots of weeds then I would not recommend a reel mower. Typically weeds grow taller than the grass and the reel just pushes the tall weeds over and they are not able to get in between the reel and cutting bar. This causes a great deal of frustration for those who expect their reel mower to cut the weeds like their gas mowers.

104 Cici 06.07.12 at 6:21 pm

I recently bought an Ellison Evolution – mainly because it offered a 1-4″ cutting height and I prefer a higher cut to reduce need to water – here in the hot South.

My yards are small (back 22′ circle – narrow fescue, front – largest side is 22′ wide and 17′ feet deep and Bermuda with some crabgrass) and my issue is that as soon as you slow down the cylinder stops spinning…resulting in having to make multiple passes. It seems the cylinder doesn’t spin fast enough to cut the occasional crabgrass blade. It also doesn’t spin properly for mowing in a circle…making me believe it takes both wheels to drive the cylinder.

WHAT makes the cylinder spin even AFTER you stop pushing…like my 1901 Toro Roto Blade did? (<<bought at yard sale for $5 almost fifteen years ago with no maintenance, sat out in the sun in the South, and literally the wheels and platent bar fell off this Spring…or I would still be using). It was ideal for my small yard – heavy but it kept spinning/cutting right to the end of the grass and a turn.

Do I need a heavier mower? more blades? different drive?

105 steve 06.14.12 at 3:49 pm

@Cici, I am not too familiar with the Ellison Evolution reel mower, I would have suggested the Fiskars Momentum if you need a higher cutting height. It’s possible both wheels need to be turning and that is why it does not cut when turning. As for it not cutting when you slow down, as far as I know most reel mowers have this issue since the moving of the wheels is what propels the reel.

106 slojim 06.30.12 at 8:38 pm

just moved to a very small yard and left behind my big walk-behind. I am considering a reel mower. I’d like to leave my southeast Houston St Augustine a little long, so I’m considering the Fiskars momentum or the Scotts classic. I am thinking the fiskars looks like it won’t get into corners very well. I’ll have to edge along the fenceline and house with either one, but I have so many obstacles (fenceline, especially corners, raised bed gardens, air conditioner, shed) that I have to approach from one direction that I may be edging a lot more with the fiskars than if I got the Scotts. Am I wrong about its ability to get close from the front edge?

107 Pat 07.08.12 at 2:50 am

I have a Yard Man 18-inch Silent Cut (forerunner to the Mascot by the looks of it; it has six blades and weighs about 40 pounds) that I bought in 1995. It’s done a decent job on northern lawns and now on our Bermuda in Oklahoma, although it sometimes bends grass rather than cutting it all the way. It might need adjustment (I’ll try that after reading up a bit today), but it’s been four or five years since we last had it sharpened. I’d be interested in a sharpening kit. Mascot has a sharpening kit that runs about $60; others are more like $20 (but with a lot less grit paste). Are the hand cranks pretty brand-specific, or not so much?

108 steve 07.10.12 at 4:02 pm

@Pat, You can use this one, you will have to use a hack saw to cut it to size but that will only take a few seconds. Then cut the abrasive strips to fit.

109 steve 07.10.12 at 4:03 pm

@slojim, Both will not get very close to edging much like a standard mower will not, I guess that is why string trimmers are so popular.

110 Dave 08.26.12 at 8:20 pm

I live in Alberta, Canada. My grass is a mix of Kentucky bluegrass and creeping red rescue. I’d like to get a Scotts 20, but I’m not sure it’s best for those grasses. What do you think?

111 steve 08.27.12 at 1:45 pm

@Dave, Yes, the Scotts Classic will work well for Kentucky bluegrass.

112 Joyce 09.05.12 at 3:43 am

We haven’t had a reel mower, but are interested for myself and my daughter, primarily, and are hoping to avoid the pulling to start a regular mower. We have probably 80% fescue, and a little bluegrass, maybe more in the shady areas, and live in No. Virginia? We have about a .21 acre lot, with a small area with a few pine needles, and have sweet gum balls, and a good number of leaves here and there, but could rake first. We have fairly flat land, with a few holes. Love the quiet and the environmentally friendliness of a reel mower, but want something my husband will agree gives a good cut, as well. What would you suggest? and how long would it take to arrive?

113 steve 09.05.12 at 2:28 pm

@Joyce, I would suggest the Fiskars Momentum reel or the Mascot 18 reel mower. I think this company typically ships the same day if ordered before mid afternoon –

114 Emily 09.29.12 at 3:29 am

Hello, I am curious about the mascot and fiskars models, as I have St. Augustine grass. I have two plots of grass and would have to move the mower over a long concrete path to get between plots. I am petite and wouldn’t be able to carry it easily. Is it possible to push it over the concrete or would it be damaged?

115 steve 10.03.12 at 3:18 pm

@Emily, Yes, you can push any reel mower over concrete and it will not harm the mower. Both the Mascot reel mower and the Fiskars reel mower would be a great choice.

116 Dave 10.07.12 at 10:40 pm

I live in southern NM (Las Cruces) and am tired of my rotary mower causing the occasional “crop circle” scalping on my Santa Ana Bermuda grass lawn. I’m looking for a good reel mower which isn’t terribly hard to push and can handle the thick Santa Ana. Grassy yard in front and back isn’t too big, as it takes me no more than 30 minutes total to do both with an electric or gas rotary mower. I keep the grass length between 1.25 and 2 inches high…usually at the lower end if the heat doesn’t stress the grass too much. Any advice on the best choice for Santa Ana Bermuda? Based on what I’ve read here, the Scotts Classic and Mascot Silent Cut 18 may be best. Other thoughts? Thanks for the advice.

117 steve 10.09.12 at 4:55 pm

@Dave, A reel mower can be hard to push if you don’t mow regularly, but typically it’s not much harder than a standard push rotary mower with a motor. The Fiskars Momentum is another great mower you may want to consider. The Scotts classic is on the lower end and the Mascot and Fiskars are on the higher end.

118 CJ 12.03.12 at 4:17 pm

I live in South Florida and bought a Fiskars about 4 months ago. I was a bit apprehensive–I didn’t know if a manual reel mower would cut through thick St. Augustine grass (3 1/2″). I am extremely happy with this buy. It’s easier to push than a high-wheeled gas mower. Even my wife gave it a try and thought it was easy. It cuts great and doesn’t leave a pile of grass clippings on the lawn (throws everything forward). Even in tight places, a few back and forth pushes cuts everything (the blade spins fast). So, if you’re in Florida, tired of spending money on gas and having it sit in your garage, and tired of fixing a rusted-out gas mower, this is for you.

119 Meggie 03.15.13 at 2:26 pm

I have had a Scotts 20″ Classic for the past couple of years. Love mowing with it even on my bumpy, weedy back lawn. Bought it used and had it sharpened and it’s been great except for one thing…

My issue has been that it cuts uneven. The left side of the mower cuts, but the right doesn’t seem to so I have a strip of long grass in between passes. I have to mow my lawn lengthwise and then widthwise to get all the grass cut. I know that I’ll never get power-mower grooming from it, but it should at least use the whole blade.

I’ve tried adjusting the blades, but then the left side is too tight and a bugger to push. Not sure what the previous owner may have done to it, but I’m at the point now that I’m considering splurging on a Fiskars to see if that solves the issue.

Any thoughts?

120 lars 03.15.13 at 3:18 pm


The manufacturing tolerances of the Scotts Classic aren’t always as precise as some of the other brands of mowers. It’s either your reel or the cutter bar that isn’t perfectly straight, which is causing that issue you describe.

The Fiskars does not tend to have that issue, so I think it would probably solve that problem for you.

The other option might be to buy a sharpening kit and grind down the side that is too tight until you have it mowing straight again.

Just to be clear, this issue doesn’t affect all Scotts Classic reel mowers. But when I do see it, it’s usually either a manufacturing tolerance issue, or an issue where someone has sharpened it badly in the past and made it so uneven that you can’t get it lined up anymore.

121 Meggie 03.15.13 at 4:21 pm

Thanks lars. I’m betting it’s the previous life it had before me. No idea what it may have gone through. Definitely not handy enough to tackle correcting it myself, but it’s nice to have confirmation of my suspicions before I spend $200 on a new one. (Provided my husband doesn’t flip his lid…)

122 John 04.21.13 at 6:55 pm

I’ve wanted to make the switch to a reel mower for some time, but my uneven, steeply-sloped, weed-ridden lawn in Ohio was not the place to test it out. I now live in SC with a small, fairly-flat yard. The lawn is in a bit of disarray (as the house was a foreclosure and not well maintained), but I plan to till and put down some Zenith Zoysia sod.

Since my gas-powered mower was recently stolen, I’m now definitely ready to make the switch, but I’m having a reel hard time (haha—see what I did there) deciding which mower to choose. I’ve narrowed it down to the Scotts 20 in. Classic, Mascot Silent Cut 18, or the Fiskars 17 in. StaySharp.

I didn’t see much discussion/review (here) on this Fiskars model, but assume it is similar in performance to the 18 in. model you recommended several times above. So my question is, is the longevity (and perhaps superior performance with this grass type) enough to justify the higher cost of the Mascot, or will the Fiskars or Scotts provide ample performance with Zoysia lawns?

Thank you very much for all of the info and input!

123 Carl 06.04.13 at 12:47 pm

We live in Central California at the end of a cul-de-sac with a pie-shaped lot… very wide back yard… and recently took out our back lawn, opting for a more drought-tolerant landscaping: raised garden beds, flagstone paths, native plants. We reduced the grassy area to less than 800 sq. ft. We put in California Native Bentgrass, as we understood we could just ‘let it go,’ with little or no watering and no cutting, making for a natural, though shaggy, look. The literature for the grass makes it clear that you should make the decision early on as to cutting. We decided against the cutting and opted for the ‘natural’ look. It loves our climate and has thrived with virtually no watering. We over-estimated our tolerance for the wild look, however, and now we believe we’d like to start cutting it, but at the highest height possible. Over the past several weeks, I’ve used a gas line trimmer to slowly bring the height down…making sure I don’t cut more than a third of the length at a time. It’s a hearty (hardy?) grass and seems not to have suffered from this surgery. It’s almost down to the length where I can start using a reel mower. Does it sound like a candidate for a Fiskars? Are there retailers in this part of the country, Salinas-Monterey? Thanks for any advice.

124 lars 06.08.13 at 4:24 pm

The Fiskars is available at a lot of big box places, I believe.

It would be a good choice since it has a very tall 4 inch maximum height. Other reel mowers don’t typically cut higher than 3 inches, and even that is pretty rare.

125 Mike 06.09.13 at 12:19 am

I am considering the Mascot 21” for my ~1/2 acre yard. I know this is on the large scale of yard sizes when considering a reel mower, but I love the concept of a gas/electric free mower. I am usually drawn to old fashion devices anyway; I even listen to music on a 1922 wind-up Victrola.

I am in the Western PA region. My yard is mostly level, with ~¼ having a slight slope. It consists of ~75% fine fescue and 10% clover (I care about the bees and bunnies), with the rest being a mix of bluegrass and rye.

Would the Mascot 21 be a good choice for me? I’ve read some reviews that say the 21” is nearly impossible to push, and that you should buy the Mascot 18”. Does the extra 3 inches really make that much difference, or are they near equal in resistance? I currently use an 18” push gas mower, and can finish the yard (front and back) in ~40-50 passes.

I feel like a reel mower can turn a chore into a hobby, but I don’t want to kill myself trying to cut the grass.


126 Holly 08.13.13 at 9:24 pm

Hi, I recently decided and purchased a Scott’s Classic 20″ reel mower to replace a 23 year old rotary mower. Have really enjoyed the quiet time, however, after using it for a month I’m uncertain if I made a poor choice. For the most part it’s easy enough to push. The main problem that I’ve noticed from the beginning is that if it hits a patch of denser growth the reel locks up and skips over the section or at best creates mini horizontal cuts that look as if I carefully took a pair of scissors and cut little strips 1/2-1″ wide parallel to the reel blades. At first I bought it was random and still is to an extent, but now I’m noticing it more regularly and believe it’s the denser growth. The patch it has difficulty cutting isn’t necessarily the thickest part of the lawn either. It even happens when going from a barren area under a citrus tree to the grass that’s receiving part sun. I’ve checked for debris caught between the reel and cutting bar and that has not been the issue either. Adjusting the height doesn’t have any affect on performance, nor does the frequency between cutting. Even cutting every 3 days doesn’t eliminate or reduce the issue. I don’t know if I chose the wrong reel mower or the wrong type of mower altogether. I live in Az and have Bermuda in the front and buffalo grass in the backyard. No problems with the buffalo grass so far. Just the Bermuda which has an eccentric wavy striped cut. Any suggestions?

127 lars 08.13.13 at 9:38 pm


Thick bermuda grass in sunny southern states is one of the hardest situations for a reel mower to deal with. I think maybe your grass is just too much for that Scotts Classic mower.

You would probably have better luck with one of the 7 bladed mower models (American Lawnmower, which makes the Scotts Classic, also has a 7 bladed model), or the Mascot 6 bladed mower. If you go with the Mascot, the 18 inch would probably be easier to get through such a thick grass.

But it’s going to be a challenge period with really thick bermuda.

128 Lee 11.21.13 at 7:44 am

Do any of the reel mower models mentioned above(or any others that were not) produce quality stripe patterns? For example linear or checkerboard when cut in the directions to do so. I live in Kentucky, so I would be mowing mostly a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass and fescue.

129 Peter Lusby 03.06.14 at 7:34 pm

I noticed you don’t include Great States in your list of rwecommended mowers! Here’s the e-mail I sent them last week:

I really have to question if your engineers ever actually use your mowers in real world situations. The design flaws in the product are appallingly evident, and so easily remedied that it seems impossible to me that any competent engineer would overlook them.

The operation of the family “push mower” was a rite of passage for most middle class English boys in the leafy suburbs throughout the 20th century. Told for years we were “too little” to handle the machine, and it was “too dangerous” for a child to play with, our first sortie with the mower was akin to our sisters’ first pair of high heels. It said we were no longer boys, but men. It gave us bragging rights in school, comparing our blisters and callouses, and our prowess in mowing ever larger areas in ever shorter times. And our fathers knew how to exploit this, as theirs had before them. Most of us came home from school soon after 4:00 pm. There was literally nothing on the television (except the test card and a background of elevator music) until Children’s Hour started at 5:00, so the only excuse for not starting homework was the lawn to mow.

In the winter months, there was no opportunity to cut the grass; either it was too frozen or sodden, or buried under inches (feet, even, in some parts of the country) of snow. Come the spring, we faced a daunting expanse of tufts and tussocks, liberally interspersed with weeds. Generation after generation of British boys fought those lawns and won. We developed tricks and techniques for dealing with thick overgrowth, with cutting close to trees and shrubs, with woody weeds, mole hills and ant mounds. We quickly learned that whatever we couldn’t cut with the mower we would have to get down on hands and knees and deal with using grass shears or a sickle. 70Lb skinny weaklings had to find ways to manhandle a 50Lb mower through 18 inch high wet grass. Muscle power alone wasn’t going to do it, so we had to get smart.

Now, more than half a century later, my body remembers perfectly how to do what I used to do, but your mower doesn’t cooperate. Let’s begin with the most obvious.

By its nature, a reel mower tends to throw the cuttings forward. Any catcher assembly needs to take this into account and be mounted in front of the reel. It also needs a baffle to the rear of the reel to gather and channel stray clippings forward. If you don’t do this, the lawn looks like crap when you’re done mowing it. Clippings are scattered in all directions, and don’t get cut and recut for mulch. A rear mounted catcher is effective only until the blades encounter a twig, an acorn, a sprinkler head, a toy car, or some other obstruction. In that instant the whole assembly stops dead, and the entire content of the catcher continues its forward inertia, to dump itself out over the reel and the uncut lawn.

Cutting long grass requires a special technique. Pull the mower back until the handle is against your hips. Push forward with your entire upper body, straightening your arms until they are at full extension AND THE DRIVE WHEELS ARE OFF THE GROUND. Inertia should keep the reel spinning, clipping the tips off the furthest blades of grass. Now push DOWNWARDS on the handle to maintain the same angle of the mower, while you pull it back until the handle once again is against your hips. Repeat the movement until the mower moves easily throughout the length of travel, then take half a pace forward and repeat the process.

Sounds easy enough, but it takes practice, and a HEAVY mower. The impetus you give the machine in the initial push with your whole body MUST convert into enough forward momentum to keep the mower going through the entire travel, even when your arms are working at their least efficient at full extension. Any 11 year old in British suburbia from the 1920s to the 1970s could do this, no matter how low his own body mass, because the mower actually did the work. It takes also a heavy reel and heavy wheels, because that’s where the angular momentum comes from, to keep the blades turning when the wheels lift off the ground but the reel is still trying to cut thick wet grass. Now, for this technique to work, the center of gravity of the mower assembly has to be well in front of the handle attachment point (another useful consequence of heavy wheels and reel). In your equipment, it isn’t, so what happens is that when the wheels lift up, and the weight transfers to the rear roller, the entire contraption topples backwards. This interrupts the rhythm of the operator and completely negates the entire technique.

I’ve had my share of blisters and callouses from mower operation over the years. They come from too small a contact patch between hand and handle. My grandmother always admonished me to wear gloves and grease my hands before using the mower, as her father had done 3 generations earlier. Me, I liked the scars of my toil that cemented my manhood. But as an adult, I follow her advice. And yet, 20 minutes of muscling your mower through bermuda grass, and the blisters begin. Why? Because the pathetic foam wrap that my mower came with on its handle disintegrated in the first month, and the tiny steel tube underneath cannot be compensated for by even the best of leather work gloves.

The stereotype suburban lawn has alternating light and dark stripes. These come from the roller behind the cutting reel, which lays the grass down in the direction of travel. If this roller is not continuous across the width of the reel, guess what happens! Each stripe has a Mohawk! Again, weight of the mower is a factor here, but so is the diameter of the roller. Logically, it would seem that, Lb/sq in. being the same for a light mower and a narrow roller and a heavy mower with a wide roller, the result should be the same. But contact time is paramount here. The wider diameter roller holds the blades down long enough to interlace them with the adjacent blades. Yours doesn’t.

All the experts agree, mowing more than 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch at a time is A Bad Thing. Here, the adjustment steps on your machine beat anything I’ve ever worked with in half a century, hands down. But dammit, you turn the adjustment into such a production! At this time of year I have to adjust blade height every time I mow, and I have to mow every 3 days! To do this, I have to completely remove and replace the rear roller and the (incredibly Rube Goldberg [The British would say “Heath Robinson”]) catcher assembly every time before I start cutting my lawn.

May I suggest that you take a long and careful look at the design of Qualcast manual mowers, with a view to adapting their designs to your manufacturing techniques and marketplace?

130 Kevin 03.17.14 at 2:08 am

I, like some others here, am trying to decide between the Fiskars and the Mascot. I live in South Florida. How are each of these with maneuverability? I have a few kidney shaped garden “islands” on the front lawn and I’m wondering if I’ll have a hard time maneuvering around them. And how does the Fiskars handle with the bag on? Looks like it could be an issue getting close to things with the bag hanging off the front. I also live close to the ocean where rust can be issue. Whatever I buy will live in the garage, but should I be worried about the chain drive on the Fiskars rusting away and failing? Thanks for any help.

131 Brian 05.09.14 at 5:32 pm

I am getting ready to purchase my third reel mower. I live in Chicago and have not too big a yard. I really like the simplicity and reel mechanism of the Scotts Classic. I have gone through two of these mowers. The handle of the Scotts mower breaks over time. The handle is piteously behind the durability of reel mechanism itself. With both the units I owned, the handle cracked and broke in about three seasons. They have a pretty good warranty, so if you buy one save the box so you can get it replaced when the handle breaks. I really wish they would fix this design flaw because they are otherwise great mowers and easy to find for sale at places like Home Depot compared to Fiskars, Brill etc.

132 Shi Anne 05.24.14 at 3:13 am

I am considering purchasing a McLane 17-PH-7 17-Inch 7-Blade Push Front-Throw Reel Mower or a Fiskars 18 Inch Staysharp Max Reel Mower. I live in Florida & have mixture of the typical St A, & Bermuda grasses with a little centipede grass thrown in. My front yard just has a strip that takes me about 10min with a powered push mower. The back yard takes 20-30min. They both received excellent reviews on Amazon. The McLane is $235 on their site. & the Fiskars $199 I had not really planned to spend over $200, but I would to get a sturdy product with great durability & lasting power. Also, I am very partial to the fact that the McLane is made here in the USA & would pay extra for that. Finally, I do keep my grass a bit longer and typically mow every 2 weeks.

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