Despite the advent of their gas-powered counterparts, traditional manual mowers remain very popular.
They are user-friendly, less noisy, and inexpensive, making them a great choice among many homeowners.
What’s more, these machines require little maintenance and don’t need gas to operate, which means they won’t cause harm to the environment.
If you’re considering buying one for your yard, our list of the best manual cylinder lawn mowers is a great place to start.
We also included a detailed buying guide and FAQ section to help you find the right reel mower for your needs.
- 5 Best Manual Cylinder Lawn Mowers
- What Should I Look For in a Manual Lawn Mower?
- Which Is the Best Manual Lawn Mower?
5 Best Manual Cylinder Lawn Mowers
1. American Lawn Mower Co. 1204-14 Lawn Mower
This manual reel mower has a 14-inch cutting deck designed to handle most cold-season turf grasses, including Fine Fescues and Kentucky Bluegrass.
The cutting reel is mounted on a three-spider ball bearing assembly, which allows you to get the mower spinning quickly with a gentle push.
Some of the top features of the American Lawn Mower Co. 1204-14 Lawn Mower are:
- Compact and Lightweight Build
This lawn mower only weighs 20 pounds, which is similar to the weight of a shopping cart or a dog crate.
That said, it’s easier to maneuver, and moving it around won’t take a toll on your back and shoulders.
Despite its lightweight build, this mowing machine has a sturdy steel frame.
The American Lawn Mower Co. 1204-14 Lawn Mower works well with most types of grass, although it’s ideal for cool-season grasses.
- Adjustable Blades
This mower uses a scissor action mechanism designed to cut grass evenly, leaving your lawn nice and pretty.
You can adjust the blade height between 0.5 inches and 1.175 inches to meet most of your grass-cutting preferences.
- Sharp Blades
The American Lawn Mower 1204-14 boasts high-quality blades made of heat-treated alloy steel.
Aside from being less prone to wearing, these blades are razor-sharp.
You only need to whet them every three or five years.
What we like the most about the American Lawn Mower 1204-14 is its simple yet highly functional design.
The three-spider reel system means you won’t need to exert so much effort to achieve a beautiful, scissors-like cut for your lawn.
The durable cutting blade is also a major selling point.
Since it’s made of heat-treated steel, you won’t have to sharpen the blade as often as you think.
Lastly, all the other parts of the American Lawn Mower are made of durable materials.
Even the wheels are nicely made and designed to sustain high impact.
That said, you can use your mower on uneven areas in your yard.
Since the American Lawn Mower Co. 1204-14 Lawn Mower has a small reel, this mower is only ideal for very small yards.
If you have quite a big lawn or if you’re dealing with sports-turf grasses like Bermuda or zoysia, you might benefit from a reel mower with bigger blades.
Lastly, if you prefer to keep your grass a little higher, such as two inches or more, the limited height range of this mower might disappoint you.
- Sleek and compact design
- Very sharp blades
- Exceptionally lightweight
- Limited blade height range
- Not ideal for tougher grass
- Only suitable for very small lawns
2. Great States 815-18 Lawn Mower
Great States has been providing eco-friendly lawn maintenance solutions for 125 years.
One of their sought-after products is the 815-18 lawn mower, a five-blade push reel mower that is easy to maintain, use, and store.
This machine features a fairly wide swath that allows you to finish your task quickly.
This lawn mower has a lot to offer, including:
- Wide Cutting Reel
The Great States 815-18 is one of the wider reel models in the market today.
At 18 inches wide, you can give your lawn a clean cut in less time.
This size is comparable to that of a typical engine-powered lawn mower’s deck.
- Five-Blade Ball Bearing Reel
This mower uses high-quality alloy steel that’s heat-treated for optimal durability and sharpness.
It has five blades mounted on a four-spider ball bearing reel which makes it spin quickly with a single push.
- Multiple Cutting Height Options
You can choose from 0.5 inches to 2 3/4 inches cutting height, which is more than the average cutting height offered by most reel mowers in the market.
- Loop-Style Handle
This user-friendly reel push mower comes with a cushioned loop-style handle.
This design allows you to maneuver the machine with either one hand or both of your hands.
- Compact and Lightweight Design
Despite the wider and bigger blades, this mower is still compact enough that you can tuck it away in your garage or tool shed.
It’s relatively lightweight as well. At 27 pounds, you can move it around your yard without breaking a sweat.
- Big Wheels
The 10″ composite wheels make this motor-free mower a lot easier to maneuver.
The wide-cutting reel is the most significant advantage of the Great States mower.
A larger swath means you can cover more area in one pass, so you can finish your task quickly.
Its blades are also very sturdy and don’t require sharpening for a year or longer.
Above all, this mower is lightweight and compact, so using and storing it will not be an issue.
While the loop handle design allows for easy maneuverability, the frame and handle might not hold securely.
Since the two parts are held together with just wing nuts instead of locking nuts, you will find that you need to tighten them frequently, which can be a hassle.
Additionally, we find that the mower gets jammed with twigs easily.
That said, if your lawn has lots of twigs, this may not be the ideal cutter for you.
Another minor drawback of this machine is that the wheels are larger than the cutting reel.
Thus, it may have a hard time cutting along fences, walls, or trees.
That said, you may still need to edge or trim your lawn after mowing.
- Wide cutting reel
- Sturdy build
- Quick, single push
- Easy maneuverability
- Light and compact
- Gets easily jammed by twigs
- Wheels larger than the cutting reel
- Unsecured handle
3. Scotts Outdoor Power Tools 20″ Reel Mower
This classic lawn mower from a well-known company comes with added features for comfort and convenience of use.
It includes an ergonomic handle, precision blade technology for accurate and clean cuts, and quick-snap adjusters for easy operation.
Some of the things you’d expect from this reel mower are:
- Cutting Width
The Scotts 2000-20 has the widest swath in our list of the best manual cylinder lawn mowers.
Needless to say, it cuts grasses and weeds quickly and conveniently.
- Easy Assembly
This mower is easy to set up right out of the box and doesn’t require any tool.
- Precision Blades
It comes with a set of five heat-treated steel blades designed to cut your lawn like a pair of scissors.
The smooth ball bearings enable the cutting reel to spin nicely and smoothly, preventing ripping and tearing the grass.
- Quick-Snap Adjusters
You can adjust the reel to nine optimal heights from one inch to three inches conveniently using a snap lever located near the rear wheels.
- Large Wheels
The Scotts push mower features a dual-wheel tracking system that consists of two 10-inch wheels and two six-inch wheels.
The smaller tires provide more stability since you’re pushing the mower, so it’s a lot easier to maneuver around your yard.
Given its exceptionally wide deck, managing your turfgrass is going to be incredibly fast and easy.
It’s the kind of time-saving feature you would normally expect from a decent-sized power lawn mower.
Additionally, the dual-tracking wheels and radial tires provide superb traction and stability on the ground, which translates to enhanced mobility.
Finally, it has a maximum cutting height of three inches, which is surprisingly tall for a manual push mower.
While it’s effortless to assemble, the multi-section handle of the Scotts 2000-20 feels a bit flimsy.
Another thing, even though the powerful helical blades orchestrate quick and smooth cuts, they don’t do well on longer grass, as well as on tough weeds and twigs.
The cutting reel also makes contact with the rear blade, which means the blades need to be sharpened more frequently than other models.
- Exceptionally large cutting reel
- Suitable for small to medium-sized yards
- Dual-tracking wheels
- Quick assembly
- Precision blade technology
- Nine-height adjustability
- Weak handle
- May not cut tall grass easily
- Requires frequent sharpening
4. Greenworks 25062 Lawn Mower
Greenworks 25062 comes with an 18-inch wide cutting reel and five durable stainless steel blades.
It isn’t the lightest manual reel mower around, but at 37 pounds, it’s still easy for one person to maneuver it around the yard.
As a little bonus, the package includes a small grass catcher, which is a nice, helpful addition.
The features of the Greenworks 25062 lawn mower that you need to make a note of are:
- Slim Build
The Greenworks 25062 has overall dimensions of 25 x 43.5 x 33.8 inches.
That means it will be easy to store it in the tightest corners of your yard, such as your tool shed.
- Cutting Reel
This mower uses a standard cutting system wherein the cutting reel touches the rear blade.
The helical blades make cutting grass a breeze and ensure a neatly manicured turf each time.
- Grass Catcher
The grass catcher makes it easier to collect clippings for disposal, although you may have to empty it frequently as it’s a bit small.
If you don’t feel like using the bag, you can simply detach it.
Unlike most models, a four-year warranty backs the Greenworks 25062, which is double the industry standard.
This reel mower is one of the most inexpensive options in the market.
We like that it comes with accessories like a grass catcher, and it’s easy to use and store.
The wide-cutting reel is another selling point.
Overall, the Greenworks 25062 is an excellent tool for mowing small to medium-sized yards.
Like most reel push mowers, this model might struggle with taller grass.
You may also struggle to get a good cut on uneven ground, and the mower will often require multiple passes to cover tough grass.
- Most economical
- Wide cutting reel
- Four-year warranty
- Nine height adjustments
- Easily maneuverable
- Flimsy handle
- Small bag catcher
- Requires multiple passes
5. Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower
Despite being a classic reel mower, Fiskars StaySharp Max offers plenty of advanced features.
These include a reversible grass chute, one-touch cutting height adjustment, inset wheels, and remarkable cutting power.
This lawn mower boasts a lot of features, such as:
- 50% More Power
This model features a patent-pending IntertiaDrive reel that is twice as powerful as the standard cutting system.
It is also 60% easier to push than traditional reel mowers.
Another unique feature of the StaySharp Max is the large-diameter cutting reel that can deal with most types of grass, including tough varieties like Bahia and Bermuda.
- Stay Sharp Cutting System
The thick precision-ground steel blades offer dependable performance.
They also eliminate the need for seasonal sharpening.
- Height Adjustability
This mower has a maximum cutting height of four inches, which is ideal for both cold-season and warm-season turfgrass.
- Swath Size
The ingenious positioning of its five-blade cutting reel allows the mower to cut through anything.
Meanwhile, the inset wheels enable the blade’s sharp edges to extend along the mower’s full 18-inch cut width, leaving no uncut grass in one pass.
- Adjustable Grass Chute
The reversible grass chute can be shifted away from your feet or in reverse and descending manner.
That makes it a lot easier and quicker to cut extreme patches and edges.
The Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower is one of the most advanced reel push mowers in the market today.
While it provides the simplicity and eco-friendliness of a traditional manual mower, it’s also jam-packed with features that give it a more competitive advantage over motor-powered models.
Even though it has the power you need to strip off challenging grass varieties like Bermuda grass, it will still struggle to cut taller grasses, just like most manual mowers.
- Clever cutting reel design
- Optimized reel speed
- Blades require less sharpening
- Three-year limited warranty
- Two times more cutting power
- Adjustable handle height
- Reversible grass chute
- Quite expensive
- May struggle with tall grasses
- Quite heavy
What Should I Look For in a Manual Lawn Mower?
There’s a lot to consider when buying a manual lawn mower.
Below are the most important factors you should pay attention to.
Number and Quality of Blades
Reel mowers will usually have a set of between three and eight blades on the cylinder.
More blades translate to more cutting power, but they also require more work to maneuver or get spinning.
If you live in the Southern part of the country or the East Coast, where thick, robust grass varieties are commonplace, you should choose a reel mower that has more blades.
Ideally, you want something with at least five blades.
Cutting Reel Width
Cutting reels of manual lawn mowers have width sizes that usually range from 14 to 20 inches.
Of course, the larger the reel, the quicker you can get the job done.
Therefore, you will need a mower with a wider cutting swath if you have a larger yard.
However, note that the bigger the mower, the heavier it gets, so you want to stick to the size that’s just enough for your lawn care needs.
As a rule of thumb, an acre of grass requires a mower with a cutting deck of 20 to 23 inches.
If your lot is half an acre, a machine with an 18 or 20 inches cutting deck will do.
As much as possible, you should always purchase a mower that features several height adjustments because the ideal grass height varies in summer and winter.
Usually, your lawn should be about two to 2.5 inches high by wintertime and between three and 3.5 inches during summer.
Proper mowing height is also determined by some other factors, like the type of grass you have.
Do note that different types of the same grass variety can have substantially varying mowing heights.
That said, you will not always be cutting it down in the same height every time, so a mower with adjustable cutting height is more preferable.
1. Are Manual Push Mowers Any Good?
Definitely, and for several reasons.
First, reel lawn mowers are eco-friendly since they produce zero emissions.
Second, they are very safe to use and hardly make a noise, unlike engine-powered lawn mowers.
While manual push mowers aren’t as powerful as their motor counterparts, they are ideal solutions for small yards.
Lastly, they are effortless to maintain. Typically, all you need to do is sharpen the blades every few years to keep your lawn mower functioning optimally.
2. Do Reel Mowers Cut Better?
Reel mowers cut better when used on lower mowing heights, usually three inches and below.
The helical blades provide a clean and even scissor-like cut that keeps grass from ripping or tearing, making them well-suited for finer turf conditions.
However, reel mowers may struggle with tougher varieties of grass, as well as twigs and tall weeds.
You can further enhance the cut quality of your machine by mowing no more than one-third of the grass to encourage healthier roots.
Or, if the grass is more than four inches high, you can increase the amount of overlap in your mowing.
3. Which Is Better Cylinder or Rotary Lawn Mower?
Cylinder mowers give a cleaner cut than rotary models due to their slicing scissor mechanism.
Since the rotating cylinder has blades and a stationary bedknife, the grass is cut in a shearing action.
Unlike the chopping action of rotary mowers, the shearing action of cylinder models results in a finer cut that doesn’t cause tearing or ripping.
Another major difference between cylinder mowers and rotary mowers is the adjustability of cutting heights.
A quality manual cylinder mower can cut as close to 3/16″ and can be raised to about an inch, making them more ideal for shaving shorter grass.
On the other hand, a typical rotary mower won’t go below one-half inch and can be raised to up to four inches.
The good news is you can find higher-end models of manual cylinder lawn mowers that have a similar cutting height adjustability to a standard rotary model, such as the Fiskar StaySharp.
4. How Long Will a Reel Mower Last?
Since reel mowers are simple machines and don’t require an engine to work, they typically have longer lifespans than power lawn mowers.
With proper care and attention, good quality reel mowers can last up to ten years or more.
Another thing, this type of mower requires very minimal maintenance.
Typically, the only thing you need to do to keep it in tip-top shape is to sharpen the blades.
Newer models feature heat-treated steel blades that require sharpening only after three or five years.
5. Should Grass Clippings Be Left on Lawns?
As a rule of thumb, grass clippings of no more than an inch can be left on the lawn since they decompose quickly and turn into natural fertilizer.
Make sure to remove longer clippings because they can shade or smother the grass beneath them, which can damage your turf.
Which Is the Best Manual Lawn Mower?
The Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower is the best manual cylinder lawn mower because of its unbelievable cutting quality and power.
It’s almost at par with high-quality engine-powered machines.
The advanced cutting reel design makes it ideal for both cold-season and warm-season grass varieties, which many traditional models lack.
This mower also boasts an 18-inch swath, helping you finish your task quickly and get back to enjoying the weekend with your family sooner.
That said, if you’re looking for a more affordable option, we highly recommend Greenworks 25062.
It’s also a great choice if your yard is too small and doesn’t require the advanced features of the Fiskar lawn mower.
Greenworks is one of the most affordable options in the market. Nevertheless, it doesn’t fall short on durability and cutting quality.