How to Choose a Push Lawnmower
The top performers in our review are Fiskars StaySharp Max, the Gold Award winner; Scotts Reel Lawn Mower, the Silver Award winner; and Earthwise Quiet Cut Reel Lawn Mower, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these ten products.
In years gone by, the non-motorized lawnmower was the norm. Today, most people with lawns choose gas-powered mowers. However, motorized lawnmowers aren’t the best choice for everyone. Push lawnmowers have several advantages over powered models. They’re less expensive, require no fuel and can easily be repaired if and when they break down.
Push lawnmowers have a carbon footprint of zero. This is great for consumers who are concerned about the environment. They’re also great for people with small lawns who don’t want or need a high-powered lawnmower to get the job done.
The best push mowers are easy to assemble, store and clean. And even though they might be seen by some of your neighbors as an anachronism, you’ll not only spend less money than they do to cut their grass, you’re also not going to inhale any exhaust fumes. Further, you'll get a better workout, be healthier and feel better once you’ve finished your chores.
Push Lawnmowers: What We Tested, What We Found
We subjected each of the reel mowers on our lineup to a battery of tests. These tests included evaluating how difficult the mowers are to assemble and how easy they are to push across your lawn. Additionally, we measured how consistent the cut of grass was after using each mower.
Grass Length and Number of Passes to Achieve an Evenly Cut Lawn
One of the tests we conducted involved using each products to mow a 10’ x 10’ area of a well-maintained lawn. We measured the length of the grass in each area before and after mowing. We also tracked how many passes it took for each mower to achieve an even cut in the test area. After our testing was complete, we found that you’ll get a mostly uniform cut with each of the products on our side-by-side comparison chart. But push lawnmowers vary widely, as you'll see below, in how easy they are to push, how reliable they are and how much control you have over the length of your cut.
Manufacturer-Claimed Cutting Width vs. Actual Cutting Width
We also evaluated the manufacturer-claimed cutting width (which varied between 15 and 20 inches) by making a single pass over an area of uncut grass and measuring exactly how wide the cut grass was. In most cases, we found that the difference between the claimed width and our measurements was between a quarter of an inch to a full inch. This discrepancy is usually caused by the wheels flattening the grass they roll over, leaving narrow uncut strips of grass that you have to re-mow.
Reel lawnmowers have a tendency to jam up frequently. During our tests, we tallied how many times the products stopped during the mowing process. Mechanical jams can be caused by a number of things. This usually happens when they roll over anything that isn’t grass, such as sticks, rocks and other lawn debris. But sometimes they get caught up on their own grass clippings.
We also noted how easy each lawnmower is to push over your lawn. Meeting some resistance is not uncommon. But if you’re encountering resistance that’s too difficult to overcome with your strength alone, the height of the cut may need to be adjusted. If that doesn't work, then you have a mower might not be right for you. Additionally, mowers that are harder to push are probably not appropriate for children to use.
Each of the mowers on our lineup requires at least some assembly. In our assembly tests we timed how long it took to build each product by following the instructions found in the user manuals. We also noted how many components are found in the box and whether you can build them solely with your hands or if you need additional tools. We found that the average time it takes to assemble a reel mower is about 14 minutes.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We obtained the units in our comparison by purchasing each of the products on our side-by-side comparison chart. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
WHAT ELSE IS IMPORTANT IN SELECTING A PUSH LAWNMOWER?
Appropriate for Children
It’s a traditional chore, sometimes called “character building” for children to mow the lawn. However, not all the products on our lineup are appropriate for children. Some of the user manuals actually contained explicit safety warnings that these machines should not be used by children under a certain age. This usually ranges from 10 to 14 years old. Other mowers have no such warnings and are light and easily pushed and can be used by youngsters without any safety concern.
Another important consideration when selecting your lawnmower is how short or long you can cut your grass and how easy it is to adjust the length. Most of the products on our lineup have a cutting length range of about an inch. Some can cut grass as short as half an inch; others can leave grass as long as four inches. The best reel lawnmowers have a cutting range length of about three inches and are easily adjustable using a lever or knob found on the mowing unit of the machine.
How and where you store your push mower is also important. All the mowers we reviewed have a special storage position, which usually involves simply pushing the handle straight upwards. Some lighter mowers can be hung on a peg-board. But larger, heavier mowers should remain on the floor. And you should always store you mower in a covered place where it is protected from rain and other elements to prevent rusting and to prolong the life of the machine.
In general push mowers don’t work effectively on unkempt or overgrown lawns. Additionally, grass should be free of lawn debris, such as sticks and rocks, because those items can make a reel mower stop dead in its tracks. All the mowers we reviewed did not cut grass that has grown over six inches.
Our Verdict and Recommendations
At the end of our assessment we found that the following push reel mowers performed the best:
Fiskars StaySharp Max - This is a reel mower for the 21st century. It has an advanced design that is very easy to use, despite its weight. It is also easy to assemble. And unlike lesser mowers, this machine did not jam a single time. We also found that this mower requires the least passes to achieve a yard with evenly cut, handsome grass.
Scotts Reel Lawn Mower - This machine gives you the most options for how long you want your grass to be cut. It also yields a uniform cut with only a few passes over the grass. It is somewhat difficult to push but not enough to keep you from using it.
Earthwise Quiet Cut Reel Lawn Mower - This push mower was the easiest to assemble of all the products in our lineup. It has a cutting width of 18 inches and can cut your grass as short as half an inch or as long as three inches.
The push reel lawnmower that you choose should be one that meets your individual needs. Some are better for smaller lawns while others excel at larger yards. It should also be a mower that can effectively cut the type of grass growing at your home. And whether you want to keep your grass long or nice and trim, you can find the push mower that’s right for you on our side-by-side comparison chart.